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