Natalie Randolph on The Science of Coaching – neXtworking Recap

We have all had coaches in our lives that have made an impact on us.  Whether it was a sports coach, a boss at work, or a personal mentor, coaches play a significant role in how we grow as human beings.  It is also likely that we have had negative experiences with coaches—who were likely trying to help us achieve greatness, but may have fallen short in being able to connect with us.  So, what separates the two coaching experiences, and how can we help those around us?

Eleccion was fortunate to welcome Natalie Randolph to our first virtual neXtworking session at the end of April!  Natalie knows a few things about coaching and pushing boundaries as she was a scholarship track and field athlete at the University of Virginia, played professional football for six seasons with the DC Divas, and in 2010, became the first and only female active head coach of a high school football team – Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C.

Natalie brought her years of experience as a coach and educator to share “The Science of Coaching”—a collection of insights that she and a fellow coach have put together that leverage proven methods to develop better coaching habits and practices.  Here are three of the main points that Natalie shared:

  1. Coaching and the Brain: The way our brains have evolved leads us to react differently to the kinds of stimuli that we receive.  Depending on the type of stimuli we get, our brains are wired to react emotionally first and then work through the more logical responses.
  2. Feedback – negative vs positive: Knowing that we are prone to react emotionally, we can structure our feedback to override the typical responses from our brains. Negative feedback triggers the survival mentality that leads to fighting, shutting down, and avoidance.  Conversely, positive feedback creates dopamine which bypasses the emotional part of the brain and engages the thinking brain—leading to improved information processing and acceptance.
  3. Stress helps develop skill: Many consider stress to be a negative aspect in our lives, and while it is true that too much stress can be overwhelming, stress is an important part of developing skill and becoming better at what we do.

Coaches have a responsibility to know and understand how to engage in the right way.  By understanding how the brain processes stimuli, using positive feedback, and creating the right environment of stress to develop skill, coaches can effect a greater change.  This can apply to athletes, coworkers, mentees, peers, friends, family, and really anyone who we are trying to build up.

We greatly appreciate Natalie for taking the time to share this information with us.  We look forward to holding our next neXtworking session—which will also likely be virtual—and we hope that you will join us!