“I find myself looking to Tom to break the awkward silence after I ask a question. The rest of the team just don’t speak up in huddles.” (Coach, U18 boys team)
In any social setting, whether that be a staff meeting, conference, sporting team, you’ll notice how very few people want to speak in front of big groups. Although as coaches, we often resort to bringing the whole team together for a ‘hug fest,’ where we either provide direct feedback or apply a questioning approach, often without the impact we expect.
Now there is something special, about getting shoulder to shoulder with team mates, with the faint (sometimes not so faint) odor of sweat drifting amongst the team huddle. Although if you are a coach who likes to use a questioning approach, you may notice 2 or 3 players who have the confidence to speak up in front of the whole team. And you may get frustrated that others don’t share their view. Now would you speak up in a large group setting, to answer a question in a room full of your peers, particularly if you were unsure of getting the answer ‘right’? Maybe, maybe not. If not, there is likely some fear that you may be judged for saying the wrong thing.
Consider different approaches to facilitating feedback sessions, such as small groups, pairs or one on one. These contexts are much safer for players. And if you do bring all players together, consider who the message / learning it for? If everyone needs to be involved, then get the Whole Team Hug Fest humming, otherwise consider different approaches to maximise learning for everyone.