​Jonathan Armold

Ask Questions: The One Under-Used (Parent/Player or Coach/Player) Teaching Approach That Produces Better Relationships AND Results.

Jonathan is currently a pitching coach in the Texas Rangers organization, and a former professional pitcher with the Milwaukee Brewers.  Jonathan also has his Masters Degree in Organizational Behavior with an emphasis on Professional and Executive Coaching.

Summary and Action Plan below


Communication is vitally important. We all want our athletes and children to improve, but

The player coach relationship can get murky when it becomes parent/player relationship.

When your child is on the field, you don’t want them to feel like they’re your child. You want them to feel like they’re their own person. How and *when* you communicate with your son will go a long way to fostering a positive relationship and also gives the best chance for athletic success well.

Jonathan did a capstone project surveying coach/player relationship. There were common themes found about how and when player’s preferred feedback. One of the main concepts is on questions. Ask your player questions. Instead of “Here’s what you should do next time’, ask “What should you do next time.” Make the player a participant in his growth - nobody likes being told what to do, even if it is correct.

It was found that players do not like being “told” information (or instruction) at three specific times: 1. During competition (the game) 2. When it’s obvious and 3. After failure...and specifically if they know what caused them to fail.

Jonathan also studied when players don’t like questions from their coaches also, and they again said not during games.

The lesson we are learning is that instruction given during the game - whether through telling or asking - is more counterproductive to the relationship and to their performance.

Example of a good question, ‘What did you feel there? What are you feeling?” And sometimes a good and honest response is “I don’t know”.

So one of the biggest benefits from asking questions - aside from improved relationship with the coach/parent - is that it creates more awareness for the player. They start to recognize what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong and how each of those feel.

So THEY lead the process vs the coach leading the process.

It feels good when you tell people what to do, to feel like an expert. It’s easy to let that get out of hand. It’s less about what YOU the coach knows, it’s more about what you can instill into your player.

Creating an internal focus (focusing on the body - “do this with your hands”, “do that with your hip” decreases performance, simple as that.

The further away you go from your body with your focus - “hey I want you to drive this ball into the outfield” allows for the player to self-organize their body and intent to accomplish the task.

You have to personalize the way you coach from kid to kid. Some kids need more space while another needs to be kept in line. Creating a system for all players to go through won’t get the most out of the individual.

A good example is of a daughter who has her dance recital coming up. You go to the practices, you work on it at home, you take everything seriously to get it right. And when the day of the dance recital comes and that curtain opens on your daughter...you sit there - and you clap. That’s it. The work is put in at practice, and come gameday it’s just time to compete, have fun.


Search internal focus vs external focus

Next time you want to tell your son an instruction on how to improve, think of a question you could ask that would allow for them to come to that conclusion on their own.

If you’re not sure what to ask, go with “How does that feel?” It is FANTASTIC to develop self-awareness of how the body feels when things are going great and when things are not.

Questions will accomplish this far better than directions.

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