Can you coach when you are angry?

Wouldn’t it be lovely to turn up to a session with your mind at ease with the world and excited about providing the best learning environment for the players?

The problem is that life gets in the way of the former and sometimes players and the weather for the latter.

Of course, the more we can control our emotions, the better placed we are to conduct a training session. However, I sometimes wonder whether we can channel some of this negative emotion in a positive way.

It could be that this emotion is anger. The anger I’m referring to is the sort of slight or bad comment that you might have received about your own coaching.

Sometimes this comes from feedback from well-meaning folk, other times from downright rude people who don’t know any better.

This is the rare occasion when I think that the phrase “what doesn’t kill you can make you stronger” can really apply.

You need to take that comment and work out how best to respond.

The best response is rarely some sharp riposte. That only inflames the situation. A better response is to become better at what you are doing. And if you are already doing well, continue to improve that.

One of the best books I’ve read on this is Thanks for the feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. It’s all about how you deal with comments and then organise yourself as a consequence. In essence, any feedback goes into triage. You either reject it, agree to disagree or change.

A happy Eddie Jones

However, it’s not the words that can be most hurtful, it can be the intonation. That leads to the energy which comes from the anger. You work harder at improving, whatever the outcome of the feedback triage.

After the Six Nation test series, I’m sure that the international coaches will have had their fair share of anger-inducing comments. One thing is certain. All the international coaches will be working even harder now.

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