May 17, 2017 • Coaching

The power of relationships

Five tips to help coaches bond with players, assistants

The best coaches are invested in everyone involved with their programs, from the assistants and players to the equipment managers and athletic trainers. After all, success on the field is not possible without a total commitment from the entire organization.

Relationships are not established easily and they can take time, but here are five tips that will help head coaches bond with those in their programs.

1. Personal time.

Some coaches set aside time after practices or workouts to have non-football chats with players. Asking them about friends, school work, relationships or hobbies can show players that you’re interested in more than what they can do on the field. Do the same with coaches, and spend time with them away from the field.

2. Retreats.

Coaches often take their teams on retreats — a camping trip or nearby resort — to get to know their players a little better. This is also the perfect setting to stress the value of leadership and teamwork instead of the Xs and Os.

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Kennedy (Iowa) High School coach Brian White is one of many coaches who also attends clinics or college practices with their coaching staffs. It’s an opportunity to grow and a reminder to assistant coaches that the head coach cares about their professional development.

3. Acknowledgements.

Make a concerted effort to praise the achievements of those in your program, no matter how small. Maybe your lineman perfectly executed a drill, your players scored a 4.0 grade point average or your athletic trainer stayed late to provide extra care to an injured player. The acknowledgements are appreciated and they make other players strive to earn recognition of their own.

4. Pitching in.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with some of the smaller tasks that are typically assigned to players or team managers. Carry in equipment from the practice field, bring water to players during a summer workout or help them prepare for an upcoming exam. Doing the small things shows players that you’re not above any task that’s going to help them succeed.

5. Coach/player development.

You want those in your program to grow and improve, but do you tell them how? After the season, some coaches take note cards and list three specific skills they want players to improve during the offseason. For coaches, identify some camps or clinics that you think might help them grow in their profession. The idea is to show athletes that you’re dedicated to helping them reach the next level. It also shows you’re honest with them about how they can do it.

Developing strong bonds with those in your program establishes a culture where players and coaches are willing to fight for one another. That’s how you win championships.

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