Maximizing a Timeout. Emotional Control and Instructional Effectiveness: By Staci R. Andrews

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1 Emotional Control and Instructional Effectiveness: Maximizing a Timeout I was intense but never uncontrolled in the huddle. No screaming, no profanity. That short period of time was valuable. I didn t want emotions to spill over and spoil the opportunity. John Wooden (Wooden & Jamison, 2010, p. 26) J By Staci R. Andrews ohn Wooden, one of the most influential philosopher-coaches of all time, applied effective teaching practices while coaching high school and collegiate basketball. Under Coach Wooden s stewardship, the University of California at Los Angeles men s basketball program experienced unprecedented success from 1948 to Long before empirical research had substantiated emotional control as a contributing factor to athletic performance, Wooden intuitively linked the theoretical construct of emotional intelligence to coaching effectiveness. Emotional intelligence can be developed through life experiences and is composed of an array of cognitive abilities used to recognize and regulate emotional responses to environmental stimuli in order to accomplish desired outcomes (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). Volume 28 March/April 33

2 Figure 1. Athlete-specific optimal levels of arousal Source: Landers and Boutcher (1993). Permission to reprint Figure 1 obtained from McGraw-Hill. During the past decade, researchers have examined emotional intelligence and sport from a variety of perspectives (Andrews, 2014; Crombie, Lombard, & Noakes, 2009; Lane et al., 2010; Lu, Hsu, Li, & Williams, 2010; Perrelli, 2009; Zizzi, Deaner, & Hirschhorn, 2003). Specific to sport leadership, coaches with higher levels of emotional intelligence and proficient stress-management techniques are better equipped to deliver effective instruction by minimizing distractions and focusing on game tactics (Andrews, 2014). A timeout is a critical period of instructional time that can be inherently stressful, depending on the time and score of a competition. In high-pressure situations, individuals experience heightened levels of anxiety due to intense circumstances. Feelings of anxiety trigger levels of physiological arousal that can either facilitate or debilitate performance (Landers & Arent, 2010). According to the inverted-u hypothesis (Yerkes & Dodson, 1908), performance is enhanced by greater amounts of arousal up to an optimal level; however, if arousal increases beyond the optimal level, then performance will decline. The optimal level of arousal for peak performance differs from one individual to the next, as depicted in Figure 1. Athlete A and Athlete B experience peak performance under different conditions of arousal. Essentially, Athlete B requires a greater amount of arousal than Athlete A to reach an optimal level. Because optimal performance levels vary from individual to individual, leading a productive and effective timeout can be challenging for head coaches. In addition to regulating his or her own level of arousal, head coaches must also consider the arousal levels of players and assistant coaches to establish a collective focus during a timeout. Coaches can maintain emotional composure and maximize instructional effectiveness by dividing a timeout into three distinct phases, characterized by specific roles and responsibilities (see Table 1). Phase 1 of a Timeout Train players to hustle off the floor when a timeout is called and sit on the bench according to position. Predetermined seating on the bench will establish order and instill a sense of purpose as the players approach the sideline. Teach players to use this phase to decompress and regain emotional composure in preparation for processing critical information. To manage arousal and gain mental clarity, players should take at least three deep breaths while focusing on a positive aspect of performance as they settle into the bench (Williams, 2010). Instruct teammates who were not in the game to deliver water for hydration and minimize emotional feedback so players can calm their senses. As players use the first phase to poise themselves for instruction, consult assistant coaches to integrate their analysis into your strategic plan. Delegate specific roles to assistant coaches to clarify what each member is expected to contribute to promote cohesion and develop expertise within the coaching staff (Martin, 2002). For instance, appoint one assistant coach to be ready with ideas for defensive adjustments and another to suggest offensive refinements. Use this phase to narrow your instruction to three critical points. Players will learn to anticipate and develop the capacity to attend to three instructional objectives. Expecting players to process more than a few key points will likely impair concentration and increase levels of arousal, which could result in poor physical performance (Nideffer, 1976). Table 2 provides specific examples of three instructional points during a timeout. 34 Strategies

3 Table 1. Phases and Responsibilities of a Timeout Phase Individuals Responsibilities 1 Players Hustle to the sideline and sit in predetermined seats Recognize and manage emotional energy Mentally prepare to process instructional information Bench Assistant Coaches Head Coach Deliver water to teammates Minimize emotional reactions Share game analysis according to specialty Offer one or two concise suggestions Develop three instructional points Visualize instructional diagrams to illustrate on the clipboard 2 Head Coach Approach the bench with a calm and confident demeanor Establish eye contact with players on the bench Key point 1: Use specific positive feedback to identify an area of strength Key point 2: Provide corrective feedback to achieve a specific objective Key point 3: Provide corrective feedback to address a second specific objective Neatly draw illustrations on the clipboard to support visual learners 3 Head Coach Ask players specific questions to recap the three instructional points Clarify questions from players Close with a statement of affirmation and a concluding process-oriented word Players All Members Answer review questions posed by the head coach Ask questions to clarify any uncertainty Collectively chant the concluding process-oriented word Instructional Point Table 2. Example of Three Instructional Points during a Timeout Instructional Emphasis 1 Identify an area of strength 2 Achieve a specific objective 3 Address a second specific objective Example Scenario Stats sheet indicates a 10-rebound advantage Positive Feedback Excellent job controlling the boards due to your box-outs Continue making contact and forcing your player away from the hoop Scenario Opponent has capitalized off mismatches in the post due to switching ball screens Adjustment Hard double team ball screens with early and exaggerated help on strong-side block Scenario Three turnovers in last five possessions due to half-court trap Adjustment Pop the high post as an outlet Reverse ball to the two guard Three guard (3G) cuts to top of the key to receive pass 3G hits low post cutting to the basket Volume 28 March/April 35

4 Once you have determined your three instructional points, approach the bench with a focused and calm demeanor. Confident posturing expresses your sense of competence and provides a model of poise for the players to emulate (Duda & Treasure, 2010). Take a brief moment to make eye contact with each player to confirm attentional focus. With your first point, acknowledge an area of strength that has created an advantage on the floor. Taking the time to identify success is an essential component of building trust, reinforcing positive behaviors, and promoting active listening (Smith, 2010). Use your second and third points to provide corrective feedback on specific objectives, such as improving block-outs, contesting three-point shots, executing plays, or making situational adjustments (Schmidt & Wrisberg, 2008). Draw diagrams or write key words on a clipboard to help visual learners and to promote transference of the key points from the sideline to the floor. Write neatly on the clipboard to clearly express your points and reinforce a sense of purpose (see Figure 2). Figure 2. Illustration of three instructional points and a process-oriented word on a c lipboard to support visual learners Phase 2 of a Timeout Table 3. Process-Oriented Collective Chants to Conclude a Timeout Execute Work Intensity Compete Defense Rebound Composure Focus Hustle Be Aggressive Together Team Phase 3 of a Timeout Initiate the third phase of a timeout by asking players specific questions that require them to repeat your instructional points. The players will listen actively if they are held accountable for repeating the information from the second phase. Take a moment to clarify questions. Make your last comment a statement of affirmation that connects the key points to experiences of prior goal achievement during previous competitions or practice situations specific to the team (Gould, 2010). Refrain from statements about winning to minimize stress and maintain focus on the performance rather than the outcome. Table 3 contains process-oriented words that are useful as a collective chant to conclude a timeout. Conclusion As with most aspects of coaching, players will follow in the emotional footsteps of the coach. Pair your words and actions with consistent composure and poise. Be prepared with an arsenal of plays for specific scenarios and be ready to express ideas clearly using familiar terms that the players hear regularly in practice. Establish and rehearse timeout procedures during preseason practices to familiarize players and assistant coaches with their roles and expectations. During intense moments of competition, a consistent timeout routine can mediate varying levels of arousal and facilitate effective instruction, thereby leading to peak competitive performance. References Andrews, S. R. (2014). The relationship of emotional intelligence and coaching behaviors. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 85(S1), A105 A106. Crombie, D., Lombard, C., & Noakes, T. (2009). Emotional intelligence scores predict team sports performance in a national cricket competition. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 4, Strategies

5 Duda, J. L., & Treasure, D. C. (2010). Motivational processes and the facilitation of quality engagement in sport. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed., pp ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Gould, D. (2010). Goal setting for peak performance. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed., pp ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Landers, D. M., & Arent, S. M. (2010). Arousal performance relationships. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed., pp ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Landers, D. M., & Boutcher, S. H. (1993). Arousal performance relationships. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (2nd ed., pp ). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. Lane, A. M., Devonport, T. J., Soos, I., Karsai, I., Leibinger, E., & Hamar, P. (2010). Emotional intelligence and emotions associated with optimal and dysfunctional athletic performance. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 9, Lu, F. J., Hsu, E. Y., Li, G. S., & Williams, L. (2010). Relationship between athletes emotional intelligence and precompetitive anxiety. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 110, doi: /pms Martin, K. A. (2002). Development and validation of the Coaching Staff Cohesion Scale. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 6, Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Implications for educators (pp. 3 31). New York, NY: Basic Books. Nideffer, R. M. (1976). Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, Perrelli, J. A. (2009). Satisfaction with coaching leadership as a predictor of emotional intelligence and efficacy (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Schmidt, R. A., & Wrisberg, C. A. (2008). Providing feedback during the learning experience. In R. A. Schmidt & C. A. Wrisberg (Eds.), Motor learning and performance: A situation-based learning approach (4th ed., pp ). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Smith, R. E. (2010). A positive approach to coaching effectiveness and performance enhancement. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed., pp ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Williams, J. M. (2010). Relaxation and energizing techniques for regulation of arousal. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed., pp ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Wooden, J., & Jamison, S. (2010). The wisdom of Wooden: My century on and off the court. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Yerkes, R. M., & Dodson, J. D. (1908). The relation of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit formation. Journal of Comparative Neurology of Psychology, 18, Zizzi, S. J., Deaner, H. R., & Hirschhorn, D. K. (2003). The relationship between emotional intelligence and performance among college baseball players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 15, S Staci R. Andrews is a Ph.D. candidate in physical education at Springfield College in Springfield, MA. STR1503 Volume 28 March/April 37

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