Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Coaching Sports - Part 1 of 2

If you are about to speak to your team, congratulations! These can be fun presentations that include elements of education, guidance and inspiration.  This is a privilege and an opportunity.

Public speaking for coaching is one of the best examples of trying to obtain a specific, quantifiable result during and immediately following the actual presentation. There are other speeches like those to a team of sales people that also seek near term results, but coaching sports is often unique when it comes to the goal of attaining immediate, tangible results.

This section is designed to give you information unique to coaching, but much of it can also be used with other kinds of teams. Please continue to utilize the information in the Path and Research Area sections in conjunction with this content.


You may have guessed that we are going to start with motivations! We firmly believe that all people do their best at whatever they’re doing when they are self motivated.

For example, Michael Jordan, one of the most successful and famous athletes of all time, arrived at practice early and stayed late afterwards to practice more than was required.

Hold on, the best basketball player to ever play the game felt the need to practice more than his teammates? Wouldn’t he be the one who could leave early? After all, he was already great and most coaches reward good performance with giving their athletes a break or special treatment, and most athletes want that special treatment.

Not Jordan. His coach could have said “Stay home from practice” and he not only would have shown up, he would have done extra work anyway.

Why? If his extrinsic motivator (the coach) wasn’t requiring it and his extrinsic goals and rewards were being met (like fame and money and success), what was the reason?

Jordan was intrinsically motivated to be the best.

Start with positive extrinsic motivation to lead your team to intrinsic motivation

Consider creating your presentations in a way that helps others become intrinsically motivated to learn, practice, and play the sport that you’re coaching.

To repeat, players are most successful when they’re intrinsically motivated not only to play their sport, but to learn and practice as well. Almost everyone who shows up is intrinsically motivated to play, but not all of them care about learning or practicing.

You’ll have to start as an extrinsic motivator, of course, since that’s what coaches really are. But the goal and style you use should work towards having players become intrinsically motivated. They’ll play harder and better when they are, and it will be more satisfying and effective when they self motivate. Coaches, teachers, leaders of all kinds often complain of having to babysit their groups.  Intrinsically motivated teams just don’t need babysitting.

Now, we may be crossing the line a bit when we say this, but we’ll say it anyway because we think it’s relevant and we’re passionate about it: Using a negative extrinsic approach rarely works when it comes to coaching.

As we discussed in our Motivations section a “negative extrinsic” motivator is one that comes from outside the person and is unpleasant. Having the crowd boo a poor performance by a team or player is a negative extrinsic motivator if there ever were one.

You may have heard of Bobby Knight, the long-time, infamous although “successful” coach of the Indiana Hoosiers. He used a negative-extrinsic style of coaching, so much so that he was once censured by the university for choking one of his players.

Knight was well liked by many supporters of his teams and most of his players, and his teams played hard and often won. But did he need to use those tactics? Probably not. With the knowledge he had of the game and his coaching skills he might have won more often with a positive style. You’re free to form your own opinion; we believe in the positive extrinsic.

There are countless coaches who use positive extrinsic tactics. Many of them have players who would do anything for them because they appreciate the way they have been treated and the respect they have been shown.

Some want to set up and maintain a dynamic where the coach continuously motivates the players to do the right thing. Others want the players to gradually become more self-motivated over time. And still others are great at allowing unique players to stay intrinsically motivated from the outset and work more as guides instead.

As you create your presentations for coaching, you need to decide which style you are going to use.  Ask yourself which style will best enable your team to grow and find that internal, intrinsic motivation to be the best that they can be.

Focus on focus

Pay particular attention to the area of focus when you’re speaking to players. Focus is such an important part of sports that it should be an important aspect to how you present. In other words, create presentations that your players can understand and absorb, and use concepts on which they can focus.

Broad speeches that reach for many topics at once may not help players improve since they’re going to be doing things like running, jumping, avoiding getting hit and so on  while they’re trying to remember what you told them! Keep it simple and deliver the information in bite size chunks.