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.
In this clip, Coach Stephens is encouraging the team from the sideline during a drill in practice. Throughout the clip, he addresses several players specifically by name with the intention to encourage them and make them feel as though they are doing an effective job in practice. He also exclaims “Let’s go, Duke,” in order to continually encourage us to give strong effort. The consistency of his praises towards the players as well as his constant reminders to keep up the effort is why I labeled his voice to be very encouraging. By reminding the players that they are doing well in practice and saying “Let’s go, Duke,” constantly throughout our workout, we are extremely encouraged to work hard not only for ourselves but for our coaches as well. Although it is important for coaches to be tough and stern in forming the best team possible, consistent encouragement, praise, and positivity is key in maintaining the attitude and vibe in the gym. In this clip, Coach Stephens understands this and makes it a priority to encourage us.
In this clip, Coach Stephens is leading the Duke Men’s Basketball team in stretching at pre-game shootaround. Repeatedly saying “let’s go Duke,” and clapping his hands, he makes it clear that he is in command. The encouragement of his voice keeps us going and constantly reminds us to give our greatest effort. The superiority and encouragement in his tone is what led me to describing his voice as commanding – he is using a stern, loud voice to make encouraging exclamations and sounds all with the purpose of instructing us to work hard and get the job done. His job, as a coach, is to encourage us on the court, but most importantly, he must be assertive and dominant in speech and demeanor in order to coach us into the best team possible. The strength and dominancy of his tone has a very commanding quality to it, as that is a very important role of his in practice and in leading stretching, and our workouts.
In this clip, Coach Stephens is discussing the Duke Football team and the current game that they are competing in during the time that this audio was recorded. Speaking of the effectiveness of the football team as well as their accomplishments during the game, he is very positive in his tone and makes it clear that he is supportive of and confident in their athletic ability on the field. He mentions the touchdown Duke had just scored and the fact that he is confident in the superiority of Duke’s defense over that of UNC. I described his voice in this clip to be very supportive, because the positivity and confidence of his tone that he uses when talking about the ability of his team exudes support for Duke. The most important part of the clip is the first few seconds as he exclaims, “Got it! Touch down!” He is extremely excited in Duke’s success as well as confident in Duke’s capability, and he supports them and their battle in the game against the Tarheels.
In this clip, Coach Stephens is ordering his dinner at a steak house in New York during one of our road trips. For the majority of the audio, he is ordering item after item off of the menu, and it seems as though he will never reach the end of his order. I described his voice to be calm, because the pitch and tone of his voice remains level throughout the clip. The act of ordering dinner seems to be extremely calming to him, and it is obvious in listening to his voice that he is content in the food choices he has listed for the waiter. The calmness of his voice of his voice, demonstrated here, adds to his overall ability to motivate the team. You can here his southern accent very clearly in this clip. For me, his accent is very intriguing and pleasing to the ear. It is one of the many attributes that makes his voice captivating.
In this clip, Coach Stephens is instructing me on how to make his favorite protein smoothie. He begins by naming the ingredients and their specific measurements that add together to make the smoothie, and he then instructs me to “put the top on” and blend it for about a minute. Coach Stephens is very familiar with what goes in to making this smoothie; for this reason, the ease in which he describes each additional ingredient and step is obvious. I described the sound of his voice to be confident, as it is evident especially in the last three seconds of the clip saying “the power of the protein shake.” The tone that he uses in this statement, to conclude the video, is calm, collected, and especially confident in the success of his smoothie. His voice sounds confident in this clip to me, because he understands the taste and effectiveness of his smoothie and he is proud to share his wisdom with others. This clip is an example of the great confidence that he has and that is displayed in his voice at all times during our workouts and practices.