Communication for Better Coach/Player relationships

18 Aug

Written by Kevin Sutton – Assistant Coach at Georgetown University

“Genuine relationship” building takes time. More than ever before, coaches have to really make a conscience decision to develop genuine relationship with their players. The ability to communicate with your players is an invaluable skill. These relationships allow coaches to earn the respect and trust of their players. Once these “genuine relationships” have been built teaching can take place. After proper teaching takes place, then improvement will shortly follow.

Today’s student/athletes use a variety of methods to communicate. Unfortunately, however, variety does not necessarily make an individual a great communicator. I am a firm believer that coaches must reach their players where they are most comfortable to truly develop a “genuine relationship”. These places can be emotionally, spiritually, academically, or socially. These places can be physical locations (such as their dorms, coach’s homes, training tables and team meals, etc.)

In high school, I struggled learning geometry. Unexpectedly, she changed my life when she came to one of basketball games and saw how much basketball meant to me. The next day in class, she told me that I knew more about geometry than most of the students in my class. I was sure she had lost her mind. She then gave me a piece of paper with the dimensions of the basketball court on it. She started to ask me geometry questions using lines, angles of the basketball court and I answered all the questions correctly! She met me where I was and created a teachable moment that I will never forget.

Here are some ideas that I have discussed with other coaches and have used during my coaching career to develop “genuine relationships” with my players. I am confident that if you try to implement some of these ideas then you will be moving in the right direction to developing “genuine relationship” with your players.

  • Get to know their 5 H’s (History, Hopes, Heartaches, Hero and Honey).
  • Work them out and help them to improve their skills.
  • Invite them into your home for a meal.
  • One-on-one film sessions
  • Go their homes
  • Leverage current events in the world to capture their attention, especially if the event touches them personally.
  • Choose books that you can share with them to read and discuss with themwhen they finish reading the book.
  • Create a group chat via social media. Throw out a topic and encourage theplayers to speak on the topic freely and openly.
  • Be observant of what your players do, what they say, what wear & try toconnect.
  • Be a great listener. And allow your players the opportunity to express themselves.

Becoming a better communicator and taking the time to INVEST in developing a “genuine relationships” with your players will help lead your team to incredible success. We all want our players to “buy in”, however to obtain “buy in” you must get them to “believe in”. Believe in you, your genuine interest in them, and what is important to them. “Believe in” is earned through trust, and trust takes time and effort.


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