Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Rekha Patterson’s coaching theory: communication is key

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Rekha Patterson instructs her team during a break in the action of their 67-47 win over UT Martin on March 7, 2020 at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.
Photo by Ramond Buck

Communication, a developing part of sports, is Coach Rekha Patterson’s focus. Patterson is the head coach of the 2019-20 Ohio Valley Conference champion women’s basketball team.

Giving an athlete an “outlet to communicate their feelings” is important in Patterson’s coaching style, she says, in order to give her athletes their “mental space.”

“Normally, you say just don’t focus on anything, just focus on the court or the field,” Patterson said. “But the reality is, if a player is unhealthy off the court or off the field, then they can’t be healthy or be their best on the court or field. I think that part of the relationship has been a big change.”

Patterson said her overall coaching style is centered around empowering her team both on and off the court.

“My coaching style is to try to build confidence [and to] empower young women through different methods of loving them the way they want to be loved,” she said.

Patterson’s mother, Eva Patterson-Heath, coached high school basketball at Red Springs high school in North Carolina. She also coached at Fayetteville State. Patterson grew up around coaches and has seen coaching styles in basketball evolve right in front of her eyes.

“I think it’s changed in that you’ve got to be an even more effective communicator,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to be aware of the mental space for your players to be their best selves.”

Dealing with the noise outside of basketball has changed the sport over the years due to the rise of social media. Making sure every player is on the same page is important in silencing that noise.

“[Trying] to make sure everybody is aware that we’re in this for the team,” Patterson said. “[Thinking] how is any decision you make going to impact everybody else on the team.”

Figuring out how to communicate with your players is key in Patterson’s coaching style, as well as realizing how each player comfortably communicates.

“If you know better, you do better,” Patterson said. “Some people like to talk face-to-face, but a lot of young people are better at communicating through text or FaceTime.”

Patterson has meetings with players on Mondays to check in on their mental health and also for them to have a safe place to talk about whatever they need.

“[We ask], ‘What do you need from us? How can we help you more? How can we help you be the player that you want to be and that we believe you can be?’” Patterson said.

Patterson said whatever the players tell or ask of the coaches, “We have to try to give it to them,” just like when the roles are reversed and the players are expected to do as the coaches ask.

The Redhawks are hoping to tip off their OVC title defense on time in November. To stay up-to-date when the season begins, click here.