If you’re a coach or are soon to become one, you probably have an idea of what makes a good coach. Some people think that a good coach is someone who knows everything there is to know about the sport. Others think it’s someone who has real-world experience with the sport and who was a good athlete in his day. And, while these things are definitely important and helpful, they pale in comparison to how much you genuinely care about your players.
While parents might be impressed by your knowledge or your history with the sport, young players are a lot more likely to notice how much you actually care about them. If you do genuinely care about them and their best interests, it will shine through, and they’ll be able to tell. And, if you don’t, well, they’ll be able to tell that too.
When you do genuinely care about your players and you communicate that care to them, they’ll be willing to do just about anything for you. This will lead to them playing their best and working hard, which is good for you as a coach and for the team as a whole.
You may be wondering HOW to show your players that you care. While they’ll definitely be able to tell if that care is coming from a genuine place, there are some things you can do to solidify this message to your players.
To begin with, notice the things your players do well and compliment them for them. Whether it’s something small, like always being on time for practice, or something bigger, like mastering a tough skill, you being ready with a kind word will show players how much you care. Treating your players with respect at all times will also communicate this message, as will being careful not to play favorites and always being fair and putting the players’ best interests ahead of everything else.
Sadly, even coaches who truly care don’t always do these things, and the main reason is because they fear that acting this way will create “soft,” undisciplined players who don’t take direction or play aggressively. That’s definitely NOT true though. Athletes (and, really, everyone) blossom in an environment of care, compassion, and support. Provide this environment to your players, and you’ll see them grow in ways you never imagined possible.