Two-Word Coaching: Simple Direction

This summer my oldest son has had the privilege of playing on a competitive baseball team, and with his new team, he gained some new teammates and coaches. The cool thing about new teammates and new coaches is there is a lot that can be learned from building team chemistry and determining the strengths and weaknesses of one another. Obviously, I enjoy hearing other coaches instruct my kiddos on the skills that I have tried to get them to work on for last couple of seasons, and then witnessing the kids actually trying those very techniques because somebody besides Coach Mom told them to do it. There is one dad on the team though that has introduced me to a different brand of coaching: Two-Word Coaching.

Tommy, the dad-coach, keeps his directions to the kids simple and usually only involves, you guessed it – two words. This may seem highly questionable, but let me tell you it can be very effective.

For example, as his son Will took the mound to pitch, Tommy barked, “Pitch strikes.”

Will proceeded to pitch 5 out of 9 pitches in the strike zone. (Pretty good for a first-year-in-the-league 10 year old.)

When Will was batting, Tommy grunted, “Little quicker,” and his son obligingly sped up his swing for a base hit.

Now don’t think Tommy’s two-word commands are limited to his son, the other kids are getting used to his brand of instruction as well. The more I listened; the more I was aware that Tommy wasn’t alone in taking advantage of this concise form of coaching. My awareness to this strategy heightened my recognition of just how often our terrific coaches employ its power, and the two-word coaching strategy has appealed to me even more.

Here are a few of the common two-word commands heard at most any game.

“Nice stop.” – for a solid catch or swatting down a hit by a defensive player

“Call it.” – Means, “Talk to each other, and let your teammates know you’ve got the ball.”

“Eat it.” – Means, “Hold the ball. Don’t try to throw out the baserunner (You probably won’t get them).”

“One more.” – This one has lots of meaning. It can infer, “Throw another strike,” “Get another out,” “All we need it one more hit,” or “One more game inning/game to win.”

“Charge it.” – Go to the ball and get that out. Don’t let it get away from you or the runner past you without hustling.

“Get down.” – Called when a player is running toward or stealing a base and the ball is being thrown in their direction. Usually a good indicator that the player needs to slide to arrive safely at the base.

“Body Language”*(My personal favorite) Our coaches yell this when a player is not holding himself in a confident posture. “Body Language,” reminds the players that if they stand tall and move with assurance they will be more confident and self-assured. They can’t let errors or solid play on the part of the other team get them down. They have to stand tall and be proud because that’s what true champions do.

Two-word coaching doesn’t have to be limited to the baseball diamond. We can all use this concise strategy in our relationships at home and work. Think of the millions of interactions that can be reinforced or improved by two-word statements.

“Nice job!” “Keep going.” “Well done!” “Not yet.” “It’ll happen.” “Chin up.” “Be big.” “Don’t stop.” “It’s yours.” “Dream big.” “Respect me.” “Respect you.” “Think twice.” “Step back.” “Let’s roll.” “Carpe diem.” … This could go on for a while.

Consider using two-word coaching in your day. Allow fewer words to say more for you.

During a recent game Will asked me if he could go ask his dad something in the stands, I said, “Yeah, but he can only give you two words.” When Will returned, I was floored with Tommy’s response, “It’s alright.”

How is that for two-word coaching?

It didn’t really matter what his son asked him, or what happened in the dugout, or what occurred on the field, “It’s alright,” was the answer to whatever was coming our way. Put some Intentergy into your two-word responses and simplify the way you listen and instruct in your life. It works.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I know there are some pretty crazy two-word commands out there, so let’s keep this G-rated. What is a two-word statement you like to hear or use in your life?


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