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A great working environment is an essential pre requisite for me and I’d rather not coach than walk into the gym each day and shout at athletes as a form of motivation. ‘Constant dropping wears away stone’ and a barrage of negative comments towards an athlete not only affects self esteem, but begins to motivate athletes through fear of failure as opposed to their passion to perform.
Imagine your boss was screaming and shouting at you each day you went into work. How long could you remain passionate about what you do, with high self esteem and performing at your optimum levels? It wouldn’t take long before you start to perform at sub maximum levels and you become resentful towards your employer, much in the same way the athlete will become resentful towards the coach.
As adults, we are in a position to express our feelings, defend ourselves, and take action. The young athletes we coach are often not. They turn up day after day with little or no flexibility in the regime they train under, or ability to communicate their feelings to the adult giving them instructions.
If you find your athletes in this place, it’s a slippery slope, and the tug of war occurs. The coach demands more from the athlete, but the athlete doesn’t want to do any more. In fact they don’t even want to do anything, they’re unhappy. This in turn, aggravates the coach further! You’re pulling in opposite directions.
With morale being such an important asset within a high performing culture, the rapport between myself and an athlete takes precedence over medals. One comes before the other. And for those thinking that winning medals is the ticket to long term morale, you’re wrong, they bring brief positivity and a sense of accomplishment, which soon fades when faced with the reality of training again.
There are too many coaches who are immune to their athletes’ emotions. This sterile form of coaching is inferior to the coach who invests time to build rapport with their team. Happy kids perform better.
Let’s look at some easy ways of building rapport with your athletes. You’ll notice that many of these points are only what you would expect of them towards you. A little goes a long way:
Great coaches have a great understanding of their athletes. This is one of my favourite quotes from Tony Robbins – ‘Most teachers know their subject, but they don’t know their students.’
As coaches who can spend more time with the athlete than their parents, it’s essential to have a deep understanding of them. We should know what their driver is, where they find inspiration and motivation, what their goals are, how they are feeling based on their body language etc.
Time spent building a great athlete - coach relationship is an INVESTMENT, which will both save time, and make coaching far more fulfilling.
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