Are You a Rhino or a Retriever? Best Tips for Effective Coaching

As a Coach, what makes you tick?

What exactly drives the responses you have – daily – as you interact with your athletes?

Or, which behavioral patterns help and possibly hinder your instruction?

These are questions that, when honestly answered, can provide a framework on how to coach more effectively.

We often look at how to customize our approach in order to reach the many diverse personalities that we work with, but it is usually based on their individual character traits. And although this may be helpful, how about tailoring your method based on what you know about yourself?

Leadership research has found that we have dominant behavioral patterns that shape our responses into four main tendencies. Today we will look at two of those and in a future article, we will explore the other two.

Are You a Rhino? 

A day in the life of a “Rhino” looks like this:

 He marches through each day with an agenda made up of the tasks that need to be accomplished. He is not afraid to make decisions or to let you know what they are. In fact, he tends to seek control of most situations.

 This coach is all about the results and is a natural leader that is not afraid of forging ahead on a goal. He is focused on winning and will probably get frustrated with you if you don’t share the same urgency to “make it happen.” 

His dominant personality is hard to ignore but this quality is actually part of what makes him successful. He is a relentless doer.

He is a valuable asset to have on your side. However, if you tend to be sensitive you might want to prepare to get your feelings hurt. It’s probably not personal but it is his way.

If these are the kinds of traits that others would use to describe you, then you probably lean toward Rhino tendencies.

Like the other behavioral patterns we will go over, there are strengths and areas of challenge for this personality type.

Tips for Rhinos

 As mentioned earlier, it is effective to tailor your methods based on the individual athlete or parent you are interacting with. However, as a Rhino there are some common themes you need to pay attention to with your communications.

The most difficult one – and probably something you don’t want to hear – is to be patient. Understand that not everyone operates like you. And that is OK, and perhaps even good.

Your directness may seem to be the most efficient way for you to get things done, but it is not always preferred by your athletes. In fact, it may hamper their productivity because it can be intimidating.

Try to ask questions instead. This allows them to come to the same conclusions but in a less threatening way.

Work on being more encouraging and approachable. The words you choose and the body language you employ can make all the difference in your ability to bring out the best in your athletes.

Are You a Retriever?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Retrievers. Here are qualities that resonate with this kind of coaching style:

She values relationship overall. Being a part of a team is one of the most compelling reasons that she feels kids should play sports.

Communicating well with parents and athletes is a daily priority for this coach. This is made easier because she is an exceptional listener. Unfortunately, at times, she struggles with getting her message across because she can tend to be indirect in her approach.

Her friends and family appreciate how steady and reliable she is. Following through on commitments and considering the feelings of others is how she rolls.

This coach does not feel comfortable with sudden changes or any kind of team or program instability but prefers when things are status quo.

Can you relate to these qualities? If so, then chances are you tend to have Retriever-type behavioral patterns.

Tips for Retrievers

As a Retriever, you could easily be considered a diplomat since you are not only concerned with all the feelings of everyone in your circle but you also confer on every decision.

Unfortunately, this is not always the best approach as a coach, since at times you have to make unpopular choices. Be more assertive and direct with athletes and parents in making decisions that benefit the team.

Recognize that it is not your job to make everyone happy at every moment. There will always be critics and it is not your responsibility to win them over.

If you find that your team or program is in flux, be proactive in how you manage that change. Focus on the fact that it is only for a time and that you can play a part in bringing back stability.

Knowledge and Understanding Impacts Performance 

When we see clearly our own behavioral patterns we have the power to not only play to our strengths but also minimize the limitations of our weaknesses.

Rhinos and Retrievers both bring valuable traits to the table of coaching in spite of their opposite styles.

Next time we will look at two more tendencies, so if neither of these describes you then hold tight and check back with us next time to see if you are a Peacock or an Owl.

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