In a recent Wall Street Journal, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has led the Duke Men's Basketball team to four NCAA championships and eleven Final Fours (tying for the second most in college basketball history), writes:
I believe that my work is as much about words as it is about basketball. Choosing the right words is no less important to the outcome of a game than choosing the right players and strategies for the court."
He discuses the importance of motivating his players through "vivid stories" to help them believe in themselves. Coach K frequently draws on the experiences of friends, family,and former team members who showed willpower, dependability, and courage. These stories are invaluable in helping to connect with inspire his players.
"When an audience makes these associations," Krzyzewski continues, "we have found common ground. We are no longer merely exchanging words; we are being mutually motivated by their meaning."
Words can be teaching tools, and they can inspire. They allow you to teach new things during practice and draw on them for your team during the game with low transaction costs. A shared vocabulary wins games, inspires teachers, steals bases, and brings people together. It keeps the benefits of practice alive, long after the practice is over.
From "Practice Perfect" by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway, and Katie Yezzi