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3 Tips for bringing bad news in Sports

Sports are fun, we laugh, play, compete and enjoy……..BUT NOT ALWAYS!

As an administrator or sports manager, in charge of management (on any level) it is very important to know some different ways of communication. Whether you are the president or the one in charge of laundry, communication is important especially if it concerns bad news or difficult decisions.

In firsts instance we all are evaluated by the way we communicate, and not immediately by our message. If somebody feels that they are listened to and respected as a person, the news can be very bad, but it will probably give no problems.

Giving bad news is a part of life, and it happens in each and every sport. There are still lots of people though who find it difficult to give bad news. They simply have no idea how to start, and already start sweating by the thought of having the conversation. A few examples of giving bad news in sports are:

  1. Telling an athlete that he/she didn’t make the final selection
  2. Firing an employee
  3. Informing your sponsor that an athlete had problems with the police

Let’s look at the following three tips to help you in any future situation that will occur sooner or later in your sports organizations.



There are a lot of aspects to think about and there is a lot of psychology behind the whole process. But it comes down to being prepared. Prior to each decision, there should be logic reasoning, transparent policies and ethical analysis. If you fail with one of these, I can assure you that you will get problems.



Another important point of preparation is to try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person(s), and imagine how you would feel if you this bad news would affect you. Is it very suddenly or is it expected? Is there money involved? What kind of questions would you have? Is the decision fair?



In many cases the decision is inevitable, but you have to think about selecting the person to bring the news. Most technical decisions are taken by the coach, and should as such be delivered by him/her.

But if you are part of a team (board) you should pick the “messenger” very strategically. He/ or she should be known by the other party, and should be good informed about the process leading up to the decision. Tact and diplomacy are important, and somebody who feels comfortable with the decision should be picked. Be aware though that there are situation, where nobody feels comfortable and then the leader should do it.

“Don’t shoot the messenger!”

One other point you need to consider is the way you will break the news. You can decide to make a special appointment, and start saying that you have some bad news. The other way is to just give the news at the very first opportunity you have to talk to the other person. My preference is the first one, especially with (very) bad news.

In cases where the bad news affects more people like a whole sports team, there should be more “neutral” people present. Everybody will react their own way, and the verbal ones will need attention. Take your time for this meeting, and don’t rush it.

So there you have it….some tips for giving bad news in sports. It is not easy to see people getting disappointed, but it really is part of the game of sports. The challenge is not getting (too) emotionally involved, but on the other hand emotion in sports makes it more interesting and FUN !


Leadership in sports

I like to analyze, present and talk about leadership in sports, as it brings forward many aspects of relationships in life. Most of us are not aware that we in fact are a leader in sports, whether we are a coach, a judge, an administrator or…..a parent. Years ago, the most important basis to become a coach was the ability and knowledge to educate athletes about training methods, nutrition and competition. I belief that nowadays, this part is only the basics (some call it the fundamentals). The focus has become more and more on the mental side of training, and if you fail to become a good leader, and develop interpersonal relationships with athletes or your fellow board members, you will not reach your goals.

“Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learnt by reading about it” (Henry Mintzberg)

For some people leadership means to treat everybody around you one certain way.

Let’s start with analyzing different styles of leadership.

1. The Autocratic Leader

The autocratic leaderThis is for me the “old-school” way of leadership. This type of leader tells (screams) his or her orders to the others and expects them to just follow. The leader makes all decision on his/her own, and is not at all concerned how others may perceive this style. Although this may work in some cases (like with very young athletes) there are lots of disadvantages. It is obvious that everyone and everything depends on the leader. People generally just dislike being around these kind of types, and there will definitely not be any long-term development of the team/project.

2. The Democratic Leader

Democratic leaders try to reach to decisions, after having consulted with the team members. They welcome feedback, and encourage others to take the initiative. This may seem in first instance as the best leadership style, but it is not in all cases. Disadvantages of the democratic leadership style are lengthy and boring discussions, trying to get everybody involved. Another danger is that opportunities which require quick and on the spot decisions will be missed easily, as everybody needs to be involved.

 3. The delegative leader

This type is the “laid back” leader, who asks other people to analyze the situation and make their own decision. The leader doesn’t really ask for feedback, and delegates all responsibility to other people. The danger is that people will make wrong decisions. The leader will not correct these and the end result will be a chaos, due to a lack of direction and control from the leader.

It is obvious that none of these leadership styles are the perfect one. And some theories will advise you to use a combination of all three of them, to become the perfect leader……

…… WRONG !

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done, because he/she wants to do it (Eisenhower)


In my opinion, you should be aware of the different leadership styles. And then make a conscious decision of applying one or a combination of a couple of styles, depending on the situation.

An Example:

If you are presiding a meeting and your team should make a decision, you could start with the delegative style, asking your colleagues to reach to a decision. But if time goes by, and after 45 minutes, it is time to be more autocrative, and finally take a decision based on all that have been brought forward.

Are you a leader in sports management? If so, it would be nice if you would share your experience in the comment box below.



Tips on How to Manage Successful and Efficient Meetings for Sports Organizations

If you work either as a volunteer or a professional in sports, I am sure that if you like it or not….you are having meetings.
Any organization needs to have clear and effective communication. Regular meetings are a successful way to establish a place where members and leaders can voice their concerns, opinions, and thoughts. Running an efficient meeting takes a certain set of tricks and tips. Although they may seem common sense, many who try to organize and hold meetings lose track and the meeting is unsuccessful. Sports organizations consist of many members. Depending on the level of profession, organizations will have various leaders and offices. Volunteers in younger sports organizations still need to hold meetings whether it’s with players, coaches, or parents.

Here are some tips to manage a successful and efficient meeting for a sports organization.
1.    Establish an open and accepting area of communication. If people don’t feel that they can talk freely and be heard, they are less likely to speak up. The purpose of holding meetings is to communicate ideas and receive feedback. Without allowing others the freedom to share their opinions or concerns, a vital part of a successful meeting is missing. If you are leading a meeting, make it clear that you want to hear the others’ thoughts. If you want to hold questions till the end, tell them so they understand they aren’t being ignored or shut down.
2.    Reward those who participate. This works if you are holding a meeting with those who are under your leadership. The rewards don’t have to be big or even tangible. For example, if someone isn’t doing their part or their assignments, ignore them. Those who do participate deserve your attention. This technique uses psychology. When a person sees that he or she is not receiving attention, they are more likely to try and get it. As an example, if one of your team is creating a playlist, you can remark on how well they’re doing and that you appreciate it. When you apply this tip, make sure that in the meeting you hear from everyone but that one person. If you’re trying to get feedback, but your members are unresponsive, bring candy or Mardi Gras beads and toss them to those who respond. Although this may not work for everyone, it’s a start.
3.    Be flexible with the agenda. If someone in the meeting has a point they want to discuss and the other members find it a priority, don’t fret. Straying from the agenda won’t hurt the meeting. If this point pertains to the purpose of the meeting or is important to the sports organization as a whole, let it play out and then return to the agenda after.
4.    Make sure the meeting is interactive. This doesn’t mean that the members should all help you plan the meeting—it means that members should feel as if they are a part of the meeting. If you’re presenting a PowerPoint or reviewing a handout, make sure that it’s not a read-through. Nothing is more frustrating than wasting time going over something they can read later. If it was a handout they needed, you wouldn’t have called a meeting. If you are presenting a PowerPoint follow proper PowerPoint presentation guidelines. One of the most effective ones is not having all your information verbatim what you plan to say on the slides. This is also extremely frustrating for members.
5.    Make it brief. Effective and successful meetings are anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes long. After that time period, studies show that people stop absorbing information. This means that anything you say after the 50-minute mark is less likely to be retained making your meeting less successful. By having short, frequent meetings, your members will be more likely to remember the information you want to share as will you.
6.    Invite only those who need to be there. By inviting more to the party than is necessary, you’re not only wasting their time but yours. If you only want a meeting with the players, you don’t need to ask anyone else to attend the meeting. This would be unnecessary and would more than likely hinder the progress of your meeting.
7.    Do not take minutes, but write an action list. Most of us have learned to take minutes, of everything everybody states. I’ve experienced that this is a true waste of time. If you need these details, just record the meeting with a voice recorder or even your phone. My recommendation is to just make an action list, with the specific action/decision, the person(s) responsible and of course a deadline.

Without a good communication though, the sports organization will not function optimally. Communication is key and having meetings simply helps establish a line of communication between you and others.

Do you have any tips to add? Please leave them in the comments below