Body language is a powerful tool and one that we as coaches use everyday with our athletes and those around us. Many times our athletes will emulate how we communicate on the field, to each other, to the officials, and to their opponents. It is our duty to closely examine how we (and our athletes) communicate.
I was recently told a story from a very wise coach who told me about being a Palm Down Program. We were conversing about the use of body language and the affects it can have on a team and the team culture.
This wise coach told me to think about one of the most commonly used gestures in coaching. I quickly thought of the exasperated coach, arms stretched, palms up, questioning a call by the official or the decision making of a player. That thought then morphed into an image of a soccer player, arms up, palms up, after a call that she did not agree with. From that, the picture of a disgruntled fan, arms up, palms up, yelling from the bleachers.
All of these are examples of negative body language all had palms up.
We need to be a palm down program. Think about it. Arms out, either to the side or in front, but with the palms down, what conjures in your mind? We have this? Slow it down? Control? Calmness?
Key words, control and calmness. This gesture can bring both for your players and your program.
Instill it in how you coach, both during games and in practice. Talk to your players about the difference between the two, ask them about what they perceive when they see such gestures and challenge them to them examine their own body language.
Become a palm down program and build up the team.