Strength coach voice -- Coach Stephens.

As a member of the Duke Men’s Basketball Team, I have been able to meet several incredibly talented men, through players, managers, and coaches. An important quality to have during practice and in games is effective communication, loud enough to be heard and both motivating and positive to those who are hearing it. The coaches on our team use their voices to encourage us, motivate us, push us, discipline us, and more. The importance of motivational voices in life, and most particularly in the area of athletics, is immense. Without the verbal motivation that I have received throughout the many years of basketball that I have participated in, I am unsure of where I would be in the sport or of the attitude that I would have.

The voice that I find to be particularly motivating is that of our strength coach, Coach Stephens. Both on and off the court, Coach Stephens uses the strength of his voice and his values of encouragement and discipline to motivate us to be the best players that we can be.

In order for Coach Stephens’ voice to obtain the most response in his players, he must be commanding in his tone. By commanding, I mean that when he speaks in a stern voice and instructs us to do something, there is a sense of power behind it. He commands us to react, to work hard, to communicate, and more. The strength behind is voice is powerful, and when he uses that strength in practice to command us to action, we are motivated to react as strongly in the game.

Coach Stephens is a confident individual: confident in himself, in his team, in the various athletics at Duke University, and more. Confidence is an important quality to have as a coach because it is a good example of the confident mindset that the players should have as well. During practice and in games, as well as outside of the physical aspect of the sport, Coach Stephens exudes confidence when he speaks about our basketball program. He is confident about the way that he coaches. He is confident in our individual ability as players and our ability as a team. When he speaks, Coach shows no hint of being passive or unsure of what he is talking about. Even when he is describing the process in making a protein smoothie, he shows much confidence in the taste and success of his drink. The confidence that Coach Stephens displays day-to-day is an example of the attitude that we, as players, must adopt in order to be as effective as possible on the court. This aspect of his voice motivates us to do just that, to respect his authority and word as a coach, and to exude that same confidence in practice and in games.

Another important quality for a coach to have in order to motivate his team is to be encouraging and positive to his team. Throughout practice, Coach Stephens is clapping his hands and addressing us individually as well as a team to make positive exclamations to praise us for a success or to encourage us to continue working hard. Without his constant encouragement, there may be an air of hostility in the room. It is important that we are praised, encouraged, and disciplined in practice so that there is a balance of strictness and positivity in our team. The encouragement that Coach Stephens shows to the team motivates us to continue working as hard as possible and to do what we can to contribute to the success of the team. We work for those encouraging exclamations of praise; it is so important to us as a team to please our coaches and give them something to be positive about. I am grateful that our coaches value positive encouragement in their coaching style, because it makes the sport even more fun when we are all being positive.

When Coach Stephens steps away from the training room or the court, he takes on a rather calm tone. In lowering his voice and speaking with calmness, it is a refreshing break from the intensity of practice or a game. When I am having a conversation with Coach Stephens about something other than basketball, we are in a calm environment with one another and are able to just enjoy the conversation that we are having. Being able to just talk with your coaches about life outside of basketball is super important to me, because it allows me to form a stronger relationship with them. Although a calm voice is not always the best method of speech for a coach to use during a game or practice, it is important that they are able to transition from an intense coaching voice to a more casual, calm voice during regular day activities. I am motivated by Coach Stephens’ ease in conversing about life with us at players, because having a relationship with my coaches allows me to feel even more comfortable on the court.

Most importantly, Coach Stephens has an immensely supportive voice when he is coaching or talking about things or people that he cares about. When we can’t complete heavy in the weight room, he is there to support us and encourage us to continue pushing and trying to get stronger. When we succeed, he is there to support us just the same to continue pushing and trying to make the next workout even better. There may be moments when our coaches get frustrated; however, they never tear us down or leave us with the impression that they do not believe in our ability, as players, to succeed against any opponent that we are facing. The support that I hear whenever Coach Stephens speaks is the most motivating quality of his voice. Just hearing his voice in the weight room or in practice, we are assured that he believes in us and supports us in all of our efforts to succeed.

The ability for an individual to leave an impression on someone just with the voice is an incredible gift that not everyone is in possession of. I believe a coach’s voice is one of the most important components to his effectiveness as a coach. No, it does not matter the tone or pitch of his voice. What matters is the way that he uses his voice to encourage us, support us, reassure us, discipline us, comfort us, and instruct us in the ways that we can become the best players that we possibly can. I am thankful for the position that Coach Stephens fills in the coaching staff for Duke Men’s Basketball, and I am equally thankful for Coach K, Coach Capel, Coach Scheyer, and Coach James as well. My coaches are the reason that I am in the blessed position that I am presently in as a Duke Blue Devil. Their ability to motivate is one of the most important qualities, as coaches, that they can have. Thankfully, the entirety of our coaching staff is extremely effective in their ability to motivate us through the season.

By Grayson Allen.