Monday, February 2, 2009

A player is criticized only to improve him

Great story here about University of Portland Pilots coach Eric Reveno's penchant for getting onto Pilots 2-guard Nik Raivio.

According to Raivio, who had 27 points in a win Saturday over No. 18 St. Mary's:

"When he gets on me, I know it's nothing personal. We're both working for the same thing -- we want to win."

According to Coach Reveno, "Nik plays so hard and competes so hard that he brings out the best in you as a coach. He's trying so hard to do whatever it takes to win that I feel like we (the coaches) have an obligation to help him be successful. He wants to be perfect, and if he is addicted to being perfect, than I'm an enabler. If we told Nik, 'Nik, you need to dribble circles around a chair for an hour,' I think Nik would do it. He does what he believes in. That's a very exciting thing for a coach. It's a coach's dream to have players that are willing to do that."

The story reminds me of a passage from John Wooden's 2005 book, "Wooden on Leadership." In the words of Coach Wooden:

Giving criticism is an essential part of being a leader. While compliments, correctly conveyed, are a powerful motivational force -- perhaps the most powerful force of all, when given by someone who is trusted and respected -- criticism serves a similar purpose in a different way.

While criticism should have a productive result, it is very easy for the opposite thing to happen. I believe those under your leadership must be taught to how to respond properly to your criticism.

I did not assume that just because I didn't get personal, the recipient of my critical remarks took them the right way. Thus, I gave the following instructions informing -- teaching -- players how they should respond when criticized

"If the coach 'bawls you out,' consider it a compliment. He is trying to teach you and impress a point upon you. If he were not interested in you, he would not bother. A player is criticized only to improve him and not for any personal reasons."

[Thanks to Coach P for passing along the link to this story.]