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Why Your Body Language Matters in Sports

As a veteran performance coach, I learned something very early in my career that continues to serve me to this day.

“It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear that matters.”

As leaders – coaches, teachers, administrators, and parents – a large portion of what someone ‘hears’ is dictated by our body language.  Our body language speaks volumes about our attitude, confidence, optimism, and ability to manage/regulate our emotions.

Why Should Coaches Have Good Body Language 

And as leaders, we must model the behavior we want to see in others. 

If we want our athletes, students, and children to display positive body language – especially during adversity, challenging times, and high-pressure situations – then we need to demonstrate positive body language ourselves! After all, we can’t expect it of them if we don’t expect it of ourselves. We should strive for our body language to support and reinforce what we say (our words and posture should be aligned). 

As leaders, our body language needs to give energy, not drain it. It needs to uplift, not erode. It needs to inspire, not degrade.

From a coaching, teaching, and parenting standpoint… one of the most important ways we can impact a young person is to define positive body language, model it consistently, and then care enough about them to hold them accountable to the highest standard possible. 

Holding a player, student, or child accountable – in any area of life – is the best gift we can give them… because it shows them that we care—and caring matters.  Another coaching axiom I’ve leaned on heavily for my entire career is, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” 

Focusing on Positive Body Language In Practice

This means we need to ‘coach’ positive body language 24/7… in practices, workouts, and games… on and off the court or field… in the locker room, classroom, and at the dinner table. 

If you’ll allow me yet another coach-ism, when it comes to effective and influential leadership, “You either accept it or you correct it – there is nothing in between.”

Another way to phrase that is, “You will get what you accept.”

If you accept bad body language – trust me – you’ll see plenty of it! 

So when it comes to your athletes, students, and children… when you see examples of positive body language (especially during adversity and challenging times)… make the effort to acknowledge it and praise it (after all, “That which gets praised… gets repeated”). 

When you see examples of bad body language… care enough to correct and coach it. Be demanding without being demeaning. Use it as an opportunity to teach a life lesson. 

Regardless of the score or a team’s record… you show me a team that consistently displays positive body language… I’ll show you a group that will outperform their natural talent. 

If you find this overall perspective helpful, you may want to invest in a copy of Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best.


Why Your Body Language Matters in Sports

By Alan Stein, Jr.

@AlanSteinJr on Instagram and X (Twitter)

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January 18, 2024

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