I was intrigued by Sam Shweisky’s feedback process he uses with his Princeton men’s volleyball team. It is a pretty involved system of questionnaires, reflections, and meetings. But the goal is simple: it shows his players how to appropriately handle authority. Shweisky’s system also allows his team a way to give their opinion in a respectful manner.
What his feedback system is:
- A way for players to give feedback and constructive criticism.
- A time for his team to discuss what they did and didn’t like during the season.
- A way for Shweisky and his players to discuss how he can best coach them.
- An opportunity for players to let him know what they wish the team would do.
What his feedback system is not:
- A time to complain without solutions.
As I listened to Shweisky explain his system, I worried that the meetings would become a time to complain, but he says it’s just the opposite. Once his players got used to the process, they became very thoughtful. So rather than lashing out in anger during a practice or whining about things in the locker room, they knew their time to be heard would be coming…but in a more appropriate location, his office.
His feedback system requires coaches to be open to listening, really listening, to their teams because it encourages dialog. I think today’s athlete would respond well to a process that helps them feel like they’re being heard. I can be honest and say this is an area that I can improve upon in my own coaching. This generation of athlete is used to sharing their opinion in every other facet of their lives, I think it’s time for us coaches to make a shift in that area.