You or We: The Power of Language

On TV last weekend, the cameras went into a coach’s huddle and captured his comments. He was frustrated with his team, as he had called the timeout to stop the opponent’s run. He said:

“When WE move the ball from side to side, WE get great shots. However, when YOU hold the ball on one side, YOU take bad shots.”

That might not be verbatim. I was not listening until I heard the difference between the WE and YOU. When there was a positive result, the coach was involved; when there was a negative result, the coach absolved himself of responsibility.

Few people notice the difference between the WE and the YOU, but the difference says a lot about a coach’s attitude. Whether or not the coach approves of the offensive stagnation, the team is the team, and the players and coaches need to stick together for the good and the bad possessions. When bad possessions turn into YOUs, dissension builds between teammates and coaches, as YOUs start the blame game. A team needs to work together and accept responsibility as one, and that starts with the coach, his attitude and his language.

By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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