“Friend, there’s no greater investment in life than in being a people builder. Relationships are more important than our accomplishments.”
- Joel Osteen
Creating an effective environment that defines success for each participant is a vital aspect of creating a positive experience when part of a team. The leader/coach that can provide this type of experience has an opportunity to offer a transformational experience to the members of the team producing a memorable experience that shapes future behaviors on and off the field.
Coaches of athletes of all ages can create this type of experience in an intentional manner by focusing on building a caring, professional, trusting, and respect based relationship. Skipping this initial step of relationship building eliminates any other planning that has been performed by the coaching staff to create an environment of success. The coach may be a fantastic teacher of technical skills or tactical in game awareness, but without a realization of how to build a positive relationship, the coach will only have limited success.
Being a coach is a tremendous responsibility where that individual will often have more impact on a child than any other adult other than the child’s parents. The coach that establishes a positive environment must be able to establish a positive relationship in order to have the greatest developmental impact on that participant’s life. Without this bond, the player often does not perform up to their potential and will not do needed extra activities to continue to develop. Within the youth coaching profession, I find it interesting that coaches are not as scrutinized as the teachers that work with students in the educational classroom. In teaching, learning, and relationship building situations involving impressionable young minds, it is the duty of the organization administrator to ensure an educated individual is teaching the sport and creating positive relationships. Parents should demand it!
An effective relationship is created through behaviors such as listening, encouraging, facilitating, clarifying, explaining why the task is important, and providing support. Within this paradigm, it is also a trust that is formed between player and coach where the coach understands the player is giving a full effort and the player comprehends that the coach as the expert can offer constructive criticism in a positive manner and does not feel offended when this happens. It is assumed that the player that sees criticism in a constructive manner will develop at an increased rate and that that coach has built a positive relationship with that individual.
Ways to Build an effective relationship between coach and player:
- Always be in the moment with the group of players consistently creating an environment where rewards are granted for effort and improvement.
- Educate team leaders on effective leadership techniques and how through learning these processes the team will be more effective during training and games.
- Create effective and efficient training sessions that players love to attend and learn at each and every day. Your passion becomes there passion.
- Discuss with players in private meetings throughout the season items to work on, playing time expectations, and other issues related to the team and the individual. Keep the communication door open.
- Act in a professional manner on game day and with a predictable approach with substitution patterns.
- Show the players that they are important to you every day through your dedication, preparation, and leadership style. Arrive early and stay late.
- Represent the organization you work for in a respectable fashion on and off the field. Perception is reality.
Ways to Tear Down an effective relationship between coach and player:
- Reward seniority with playing time and team rewards even if those individual players are less committed or less effective on the field.
- “Make” the younger players clean up all the team gear every day instead of assigning jobs for all of the players creating leadership opportunities.
- Allow certain players to break team rules without receiving pre-determined consequences.
- Limited communication between coach and player or coach and team during times of seasonal strain.
- Acting in an unprofessional manner in which the coach attempts to “be one of the players” as a friend instead of respected adult.
- Employ outdated or obsolete training methods that players understand to be ineffective in creating an environment of daily improvement.
- Use the phrase “Because that is the way we have always done it” when questioned about program details.
Effective coaches that can build relationships with players are instrumental building blocks to the success of athletes of all ages. The increases felt in sport related passion, desire to improve, and participative enjoyment for the player create a lifetime of positive memories and lessons that will far outweigh any immediate results from the current season.
Good coaches teach on the field
Great coaches teach throughout life
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