The Importance of Body Language for Your Athletes

The Importance of Body Language for Your Athletes

Ever watch a game and notice a player that isn’t blatantly having a poor attitude, but something just seems a LITTLE bit off? We all notice the big body language “fouls,” but as coaches we need to watch for the “small” things and teach our players the importance of positive body language.

Let me give an example. A while back I was at an event where the coach happened to be a friend of mine.  I was so impressed with the players and their effort, their work ethic, and their attention to detail.

But there was ONE instance where I noticed a player walking slowly across the infield to their spot. It was not outright disrespect, but I DID notice it. My thoughts went from, “I wonder if they aren't a hard worker” to “maybe its just a bad moment and this is an anomaly”.

It wasn’t major, but the fact is that I noticed SOMETHING and it made me THINK.

Then I talked to the coach afterwards and in the course of our conversation it came out that this player is not as easy to motivate as the others…


Now in this one particular instance, it did not have a major impact on what was going on around them.

But here is where body language can play itself out in a negative way:

  1. Imagine if I were a college coach. That’s 1 “strike” on the player in the recruiting process. It was JUST enough to make me question your work ethic. This will definitely raise some red flags for the savvy college coach. In many instances, these are the things that will ruin a players chance to be recruited by certain schools.
  2. Negative body language WILL have an impact on your teammates. For the players that are working hard to compete, they will be inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) frustrated with the teammate that consistently shows negative body language on the field.
  3. Negative body language WILL have a negative impact on your own performance. Negative body language is typically an indication of lack of confidence or lack of care. Neither are helpful for individual performance.

On the flip-side, imagine if this same player were to sprint out to their position, be a constant encourager for their teammates, and have a consistent work ethic? 

Now you have a player that has the following going for them:

  1. Interested college coaches just became a little more interested.
  2. Teammates feed off of their positive body language and energy, which in turn has a POSITIVE impact on the entire team.
  3. Your own performance will improve naturally with better focus.

Positive body language permeating throughout a team will help all of your players “feel good” and lead to better performance.

This has to start with the coaching staff. None of us will handle all of these areas perfectly, but making them a priority will put you far ahead of a lot of teams.

This is why team building is so important.  It's also what 3Dimensional Coaching calls "coaching in the 2nd and 3rd Dimensions."

As coaches, we will need to help many of our players understand the importance of having positive body language. Hopefully each player will want to do what’s best for the team and be receptive.

But you have to start somewhere.

Sometimes that starting point is helping them see the impact their body language can have on the performance of their team AND themselves.

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