GOOD COACHING may seem obvious, but it ‘s not! It’s not about how smart you are tactically or technically. How much you know doesn’t by definition make you a good coach. How good an athlete you were in the sport doesn’t either! What makes you a good coach, what allows whatever knowledge you have inside of you to take hold and grow within your players is all about HOW MUCH YOU CARE ABOUT THEM.
Jerry Lynch, a dear friend and colleague of mine who specializes in getting teams to come together to achieve peak performance, a sports psychologist who has been part of over 20 NCAA national championships put it very succinctly: Your athletes don’t care about how much you KNOW. They want to know about how much you CARE (about them).
It’s a very simple and basic concept. Good coaching is all about communicating that caring to your players. Athletes who feel respected by and cared for by their coach will be more motivated to run through walls for that individual. Conversely, those athletes who feel that their coach doesn’t really care about them, will not have their heart in what they do whenever they play.
How do you show your players that you really care about them? You take the time to notice when they show up for practice. You get in the habit of regularly catching them doing things right and then you point it out to them and the whole team. You build, not tear down their self-esteem. You treat them with dignity and respect. You make sure that your actions and words say the same things. In other words, you walk the talk. You treat them as individuals and not just athletes who have to perform for you. You are honest with them. You are fair and don’t play favorites. You are a straight shooter and don’t play mind games.
Don’t worry that your athletes will go get soft on you if you behave this way. Too many coaches are under the delusion that in order to build mental and physical toughness you have to be hard on your players and do the opposite of what I’m suggesting. NOT SO! You will consistently produce much more aggressive, motivated and higher performing athletes when your actions and interactions with your athletes consistently demonstrate that you truly care about them.