Practical Strategies for Coaches

Training Strengths — Building SMART Athletes

Strengths improve with deliberate practice on and off  the athletic field. Spot, manage, advocate, and relate with your strengths individually and in your relationships, and you will be able to use these strong character traits to develop these skills in your student-athletes.

Skill development in the athletic arena is enhanced when coaches get their players to understand how their strengths help them improve performance and enjoy their participation in a sport. Below, read about how a student-athlete guides you through the SMART model. How do his strengths affect his athletic performance? As a coach, what is your reaction to his awareness of how his strengths impact his play?

“My Clifton StrengthsFinder strengths are Strategic, Communication, Woo, Significance, and Context. These strengths directly relate to me. I spot my strengths when I catch myself thinking of how to do things by either using my past experiences or the experiences of others. My biggest concern about my strengths is the over thinking and planning of certain things. The strategic strength of mine sometimes becomes too powerful and makes me over-think even a simple task. However, I manage my strengths so they can complement each other nicely. I can notice when I am getting stuck in strategic thinking and easily think of a plan using the strategic part by using context of my past experiences to make the plan its very best. This happens mainly on the athletic field. I advocate with my strengths and use communication and woo to make my plan known to everyone and to explain why I think it is the very best plan for this situation.

I always can help to improve our game plan in all three of my sports. I understand situ­ations well and can see the bigger picture than just the now. This context strength can have a down side, like when someone disregards the game plan and doesn’t want to follow along when we have worked all week to perfect our plan of attack to give us the best chance to win. It really upsets me when someone does this. Relating is key, so I use my communication strength when this happens, and I try to talk to the player who is not following along and not executing the game plan that the team has decided to use. Now I am ready to train some of my other teammates to use their strengths more effectively and efficiently.”