4 coaching styles that you want to switch up for the most impactJul 25, 2022
One of the most significant issues within esports today is the lack of flexibility that coaches have in their coaching style. Too often, players are coached in a way that doesn't suit them, causing them to feel demotivated and frustrated, and as a result, they underperform in practice and competition.
Many coaches have little to no idea how to inspire, motivate, and support their players to reach their next level. Most coaches try to do this by using one style of coaching. The fatal flaw is that each player and team is unique, so you must tailor your coaching style to their needs and what suits them best.
In this blog, you'll learn about four coaching styles that you can use effectively with your players. We'll describe the characteristics of each style, the negative effects, and how you can leverage its strengths for success in your coaching.
Firstly, we have the Autocratic coach.
Being an Autocratic coach means adopting an authoritarian demeanour rather than asking questions. You are “the General” By doing this, you're demonstrating to your players how you want something done. You're also anticipating your players consistently executing the techniques, strategies, and skills you've told them to. You won't be asking for any (or very little) input from your players because you're always in control. As an Autocratic coach, you genuinely believe that your approach is the only one that will work.
Characteristics of the autocratic coaching style:
- A lot of micro-management
- You have a strong self-belief in yourself and your methods
- You have high standards and strive for excellence
- You're the general high chief in command and always in control
Negative effects of the Autocratic coaching style:
- Can quickly and significantly impact your team's atmosphere. Especially if you keep pushing your players hard
- You leave little to no room for innovation and ideas
- You risk being seen as a dictator
- You will be doing everything primarily by yourself. You take on a huge responsibility to "carry" the team.
This coaching style is effective in more command-and-control environments – when your team's success depends on following precise rules, techniques, and a chain of command.
If you want great results from this coaching style, your ideal players require a lot of structure and direction to develop into their best selves. When you give the right kind of player this type of coaching, they will thrive because they constantly know exactly what is expected of them, what you want them to do, and when you want them to do it.
Laissez Faire (Let it be) coach
Second, the Laissez Faire coach.
The Laissez Faire coach is the complete opposite of the Autocratic coach. As a Laissez Faire coach, you give total decision-making authority to your players. You allow your players to learn and improve at their own pace. Doing this gives your players a high degree of autonomy while giving little guidance but always being there to support them as needed. With this style, the fundamental message you're sending to your team is "I'm here to help you develop and grow, but you must want it, and you must put the effort in".
Characteristics of the Laissez Faire coaching style include:
- You build trust
- You put the decision-making and responsibility in your player's hands
- You have a hands-off approach
- You're available when players ask for help
Negative effects of the Laissez Faire coaching style:
- Very low accountability. Players can feel that they're not doing much or progressing, e.g. it was a bit "whatever" or "I can do whatever I want, whenever I want".
- Your players may not feel structured.
- Your players may care less about the team and more about themselves.
- No clear roles as the team lack an authoritative figure/coach.
To sum up, some players do better when establishing their own rules and deadlines. Not all your players will flourish in an Autocratic system where rigorous rules must be followed. This coaching approach is for the "free spirit" type of player who prefers to do things outside of the box.
The high-performing player who is already aware of what is necessary to be successful in their role is best suited for this coaching style. This player needs to know when something needs to be completed or learned and can use you for suggestions.
Third, the Democratic coach.
The Democratic coach is the most common coaching style adopted by coaches, so there's a good chance you'll recognize yourself in this style. As a Democratic coach, you use the "self-coaching" method by asking many questions. This allows your team's opinions to be heard and considered before you make the final choice. For example, while setting team goals and targets, you won't impose any particular methods on your players. Instead, you support your players along the road to allow them to find their methods of achieving their goals.
This approach leaves room for your players to express whether they think what they're doing is effective or not. You believe that for your team to succeed, they must cooperate and that democracy helps your team perform better.
Characteristics of the Democratic coaching style include:
- You're an empathetic coach. You care about how your players feel and what they think
- Your players have a voice, but you have the final say
- You promote growth and creativity
- You rely on mutual trust to succeed. Mutual trust is built by everyone putting in their best effort.
Negative effects of the Democratic coaching style:
- You must have trust for this style to work
- Relies on a high level of accountability from your players to uphold democracy
- Your players entirely rely on your final decision
- Your players may not share ideas because they depend on you to make all the decisions
With this coaching style, you give your players the freedom to achieve their goals in a way that suits them. This coaching style is powerful as players typically get great results when given accountability and the freedom to express and do what works for them.
Players best suited to this coaching style want a fundamental understanding of their expectations. At the same time, they want to do things such as practice, scrim and compete in a way that suits them. Therefore they find it essential for their opinions to be heard.
Lastly, we have the Holistic coach.
As a Holistic coach, you are focused on positively affecting your players' lives, rather than only helping them to become a better Valorant, CS:GO, or FIFA player. You want them to grow and thrive as a person, so your focus is on long-term rather than short-term improvements. As a Holistic coach, you are wise and have a wide range of experiences that you draw on when coaching your players.
Characteristics of the Holistic coaching style:
- You're focused on the individual, the player as a whole person
- You help them in the other vital areas of life such as health, social life, wealth, stress, and mental aspects
- You want to positively impact their lives, not just their in-game results
- Your style relies heavily on wisdom and experience
- This style FEELS nice, but it doesn't always directly translate to results
Negative effects of the Holistic coaching style:
- Your focus is not result-oriented
- You won't always see results over time. It may take years of building up routines and systems and focusing on helping them to become a better person for them to reach their (life) goals. There is a good chance that you won't still be their coach, so you likely won't experience that with them.
- You must trust that the things you are doing now will have a positive and compounding effect on their future. This can be difficult as a coach as seeing results is a source of motivation.
- You're focused on your players individually rather than them as a team.
- You must be 100% yourself and stand behind your morals and values. This requires you to be in tune with who you are as a person, through and through. If a situation sets you over the edge and you respond differently, it can damage your image as a coach.
Putting it together
Now that you've learned about these four coaching styles, Autocratic, Laissez Faire, Democratic, and Holistic, you're more equipped to adapt your coaching style to each player and help them reach their next level.
We recommend that you take some time to reflect on these four styles and identify where your strengths and weaknesses are. You can identify your improvement points and things you're already doing well. By doing this, you'll gain self-insight and become more proficient as a coach.
If you want a deeper dive into this topic, including more Esports examples and a weekly Q&A with other Esports coaches, join the Esports Coach Development Program.
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See you there, coach!
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