Storytelling can be a powerful coaching tool. Even the Harvard Business Review has focused print space on “Using Stories to Persuade.” This is something that people who work in marketing and sales know almost instinctively. Stories captivate people and engage them, making what you are imparting stick, as pointed out in the above referenced article.
How to Tell Good Stories to Inspire Youth Athletes
Effective storytelling can serve anyone in leadership who seeks to persuade others to his or her point of view. Opinion-based rhetoric is often more polarizing than persuasive, while statistics often go in one ear and out the other. But a careful blending of rhetoric and facts, woven into the right story, can change minds. Shaping an effective story with a point of view is a learned skill. Here are some suggestions.
Know your message.
Find the right example.
Weave your narrative. It is best to use real-life examples. Tie to a narrative by following strong story structure. Describe the situation. Talk about what happened. Close with the benefits pitch.
Support with facts. Using a narrative approach doesn’t mean you can’t use facts. Weave them into your narrative, or begin or end your story with them. For example, one in four children is falling behind in math by the third grade. So if you’re trying to convince people this is a problem worth addressing, you might say, “Let me tell you the story of Daniel, a fourth grader at Summit Elementary…” Then you sketch the story. And perhaps after telling Daniel’s story, you close with a few more facts about the need for remedial math schooling.
Stories are powerful when put in the hands of leaders who know how to use them.
Inspirational Basketball Stories
When you are coaching a youth basketball team that has girls on it, whether it is all girls or co-ed, one of the best techniques you can use is to tell them interesting and inspiring stories about women basketball players. These women may be part of the WNBA or they may have been to the Olympics. They may be the star of their high school basketball team and won a full basketball scholarship to the college of their dreams, or they may have scored what seemed to be an impossible winning shot. The background, the character choice, and the context are all, as pointed out above, important as they must be relatable and support your point, but luckily there is no lack of material to choose from.
Telling Stories About Basketball Stars
ESPN labels DIana Taurasi as the “best ever” woman basketball player. What makes her so incredible is the number of titles and her illustrious and fabled career:
Phoenix Mercury superstar Diana Taurasi eclipsed Tina Thompson as the WNBA's all-time leading scorer in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Sparks, and with it beckons the question: How does she stack up to the all-time greats in the history of women's basketball?
Taurasi's well-traveled appeal spans generations and even continents, between her championships won at UConn, in the WNBA and overseas in Turkey and Russia. In a poll conducted by ESPNW back in 2015, Taurasi beat out a stacked crowd that included Sue Bird, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes to be named the best ever…
Has there ever been a more consummate winner in the sport? Taurasi's career resume includes three NCAA titles, three WNBA titles, four Olympic gold medals and six EuroLeague titles.
Born in 1982 in Chino, California to a mother who hailed from Argentina. Taurasi was the second girl in the family and grew up as the youngest. However she was exceptionally tall and gangly. Her family was great, but not remarkable or famous in any way, nor were they connected to sports - however they encouraged her to embrace basketball, which she naturally gravitated toward and found she was very good. With hard work and commitment she has become one of the most storied women athletes in history. (Source). This is an example of a story that can be used to motivate your team members to stick to the sport they love and be committed in their practice of it. It could alternatively be told to demonstrate that anyone, even if they don’t grow up in basketball-oriented families, can become great.
Taurasi’s story could be told 100 different ways, each way picking out different details from her background, or chosing any exceptional snapshot of a game and retelling it, as a way to generally inspire your players, or to explain to them how to deploy a skill they are learning in practice or even how to behave in a sportsmanlike manner.
The best way to hone the skill of storytelling for coaching is to familiarize yourself with the women that you are going to be using as examples. Anne Donovan and Candace Parker are two other players, with different types of stories who have also inspired many people.
Parker grew up in a basketball family and has a brother who was in the NBA. She was a high school, college and then WNBA star. She is also an Olympic Gold medalist and has won almost every award and honor that an athlete can. She was married to an NBA player and has a young daughter she lives with in California. Very few athletes can rival her all around talent and love of the sport.
Donovan, who died at age 56 was a legend who became a celebrated coach. Her legacy inspired NPR to create a beautiful multimedia memorial of her life and basketball career. She was 6 foot 8 and literally larger than life in everything she did. Her height was a huge advantage on the court. The woman was beloved and not only had a profound impact on the sport of women’s basketball, but on the lives of everyone she touched along the way, teammates and the players she coached. She was not only a superb athlete and master of her sport, but also a wonderful human being who came from a large family and loved large. (Source).
Three stories of three very different women basketball stars that the girls on your team can relate to. There are many more that you can choose to use to develop your stories.
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