Coaching is all about relationships

Coaching is all about relationships. Period. There really is nothing else. Athletes will not listen or buy-in to coaches’ they have not formed a connection with.

The past week has been perhaps the most traumatic week of my life. As a coach, it really made me realise the impact you can have on your athletes. I guess it is something you always hear, you are shaping the lives of the people you work with, however up until this week I really didn’t take much notice of sentiments such as this. I would not say I was ignorant to the fact that this happens; more so that someone had been so impacted by the encouragement, support and confidence which I had attempted to impart on them. It hit me right in the face! Coaching young (or old) people truly is a privileged position.

Reflecting back on my days as an athlete; the times when I didn’t enjoy it was due to a breakdown in the relationship with the coach. I think in the past year or so, I suspect as all coaches go through, I’ve realised it’s much more than just the X’s and O’s. At times, like all coaches, I was immersed in textbooks. I think you need to be. But this is only Step 1 of a very long journey.

It’s not what you know; it’s what you can get your athletes to do.

Without a coach-athlete relationship built on trust, communication and understanding, you have nothing. The relationship you have with each athlete will be different, but you really need to know them better than just their stat line or how much weight they can push. You need to find a way to establish a connection and continue this connection over time. If this begins to fade, not only does the performance suffer, but the relationship begins to deteriorate rapidly. I’ve experienced this both as the athlete and the coach. It sucks.

To all coaches, keep creating strong connections with your athletes, listen to what they have to say, and support them in which ever way you can. You are having a much larger impact on these people than you will ever know.

They don’t care how much you know; until they know how much you care.

 

RIP JP

 

If you, or you know of someone suffering from mental health issues, please contact Beyond Blue for support.

 

Strengths & Weaknesses

str

‘You’ve never turned someone’s weakness into their strength!’, those were the words from Dr Sophia Nimphius at the recent ASCA Conference held in Melbourne earlier this month. It was in reference to a question regarding how much emphasis should a coach place on improving their athlete’s weakness; in this specific example, Change of Direction ability.

It is 100% accurate. In team sports, athletes are usually selected in the first team for their ability to do ONE (maybe two) things exceptionally well. Not many athletes who play a huge chunk of game time are out there for their ability to do everything average; I’m sure there are some though. In individual sports, a series of skills and physiological qualities displayed by the athlete will determine the outcome of the event, however very rarely is the athlete strong in ALL areas.

So where do we place our focus throughout the training year? Common sense says we work on our weaknesses in the off-season/pre-season period, as this is the furthest time from the pointy end of the season. And if we don’t improve them at this time; will we have addressed the issue? However, others would suggest you look to work on both aspects concurrently; make your strength STRONGER, and improve your abilities in your weaker areas throughout the training year. This is generally my line of thinking.

If you neglect developing your strength at the expense of addressing your weakness, you may have made yourself a less valuable asset to your coach. Your coach is relying on you to do this ONE aspect of the game extremely well; not to do something else just a little bit better.

At the start of the season, profile each of your athletes and determine both their strengths and weaknesses. Train the athlete accordingly. Generally, athletes’ will enjoy training their strength much more than their weakness; this doesn’t mean you let them have it all their own way.

BUT, in the end, their strength is why you are coaching them and why they excel… Remember that.