Watching video footage results in an education on many fronts. I’ll watch the footage for patterns, the space between the participants, efficient skills and those needing improvement. I study body language and repetitive movements. I also listen for my voice and watch how my words affect the boxer and her opponent.
A few weeks ago I was watching some video footage of sparring and I could hear my voice in the background. I’d have to give myself a C- for effective coaching. I could hear the worry in my voice, which means the boxer can hear it, and might alter their ability to overcome whatever I am worrying about. I sounded condescending. My words were positive, but my tone was demeaning and coddling. It was a huge realization for me to hear how my thoughts and feelings are expressed through my voice. While I can’t quantify how my tones and words directly affect a boxer, I do understand that as the “authority” figure, the person they depend on, it is imperative that I am clear in what I am communicating. It might be appropriate to express worry or to get on the boxer about their performance. But in this case, the words and tones did not match. How is my boxer supposed to be clear in what I am saying, especially when they can’t look at me but only hear me and they are simultaneously being punched?
I am the mediator and interpreter for the boxer in the heat of the situation. They are relying on my interpretations and feedback all the while sifting through their own in split second fashion. If my interests, fears, desires, anything are in the way, my feedback is flawed and can influence poorly. I am the supposed expert from the outside interpreting and relaying what I see in small moments of action. I must be on point with my direction and intent so the boxer can put aside any of their unrealistic interpretations. I have to be succinct and clear so the boxer can also trust themselves in their realistic interpretations.
This is not a small feat and it takes practice outside of the ring. Language is important. Tone is important. Our words are a huge reflection of deeper complexities going on within us. I am motivated to learn and perfect my coaching intelligence so that I can give the boxer the best opportunity to make the right adjustments in the moment. I am motivated to take responsibility for my choice of tone so that I can get my biases out of the way and make more room for the boxer to risk and make their own choices.
Pay attention to the words you choose and how you say them. Take responsibility for your affect on others…..it is fun, interesting and a cool skill to improve and you will learn a ton about yourself.