The most inspiring and motivating coaches are more than just their flashy phrases and innovative tactical systems. These are people who effortlessly show humility and compassion when needed but are able to navigate the ship and convince their players to help in the process. Getting player buy-in can be sometimes prove difficult dependent to what level the coach decides to open themselves up to the group. Sometimes this can backfire too with coaches blurring the lines as to how far they should
1) Respect them
Without a doubt you cannot expect to get players to carry out actions or perform the way you want if you do not have respect for them. Respect goes both ways and you as a coach can begin by keeping your end of the bargain up by showing respect for them both as a player and a person from the very start. Dependent on the player, their level of respect may be slow coming or may not come at all in the early stages. Do not let this throw you from how you should be treating them.
2) Be true to your word
By far the biggest thing that people judge a person on is the congruency of their words to their actions. It is one thing to promise something, it is in fact another thing to deliver it. People will respect a coach who is able to show an ability to deliver on promises. This needn’t be a grand gesture or a series of many, but starting with easy achievable actions and then delivering on them with high quality from the earliest possible opportunity is a true market of the coach’s sincerity.
3) Admit your mistakes
It is important to show as a coach that we too are capable of making mistakes and disappointing ourselves and the group. Acknowledgement of this by taking the b builds empathy with the group and also shows that the coach is someone that values honesty and humility. It will encourage more responsibility and accountability in others and can also lead to a more harmonious group dynamic as a result with
4) Uphold everyone to the same high standards
Everyone will have different needs and will therefore be treated in a different way if we are to get the best out of them. However, this is not to say that we should not uphold players to giving their best and maintaining their highest possible standards on the field. Whatever that level is for the player, they need to know that striving towards 100% of their effort is the minimum requirement. Not just for them. For every single member of the team. Yes, Staff included!
5) Keep control
There will always be at least one player that tests the authority of the coach. The extent to which this challenge of authority can have on destabilizing the group is down to the manner in which the coach deals with this. From the very first signs, control needs to be regained with appropriate action. Dependent on the age, personality of the player in question there may be several different reasons why they are seemingly undermining. But with a private, honest and open conversation at an early stage, potential problems can be dissolved before they start and player and coach can get on the same page for the good of the team.
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6) Show them the value of what your teaching
Sometimes, it is easy to forget that just because the coach has communicated what they require, the player understands and is ready to execute the request to the book. Unfortunately, humans do not learn like this. Concepts need to be deconstructed and more importantly, they need to be linked and built up again in language and images that the players can understand and see the value of. Addressing the limitations of possible alternative actions may be one technique to highlight the value of a specific action but focusing on why something works best is a technique that most effectively reinforces the value of any process.
7) Make yourself available
There will be times that players are not able to give their all. They notably do not look or perform at their best and as a coach it leads to questions. However what we must be able to do is put the person first and the athlete second. Under performance is a result of mental restlessness and this is where the coach needs to be able to show empathy and understanding and simply listen. Dependent on the nature of the issue, the coach should do what they can to provide the player with what they need in order for them to feel at their best as soon as they can. Doing so will show the player how much you care. This is what players remember.
8) Keep pushing them
Motivation is a temporary feeling, it comes and goes. Converting motivation into discipline is something practiced well by the very best athletes in their sports. That is what separates them and makes them the best. However, this is not something that is experienced by every athlete. Some just need a little support. As a coach, finding what each player responds to in terms of keeping motivation is important. As there will always be days were players actions are not as quick or as well executed as they could be. Therefore find the right formula for each player and keep them on the toes.
9) Trust them
Coaches have to let go at some point. Giving players ownership and allowing them to make their own decisions on the field is something that should be encouraged across the pitch and not just the final third to the creative players. Defensive players in high risk areas and high risk situations need to be able to ‘figure it out on their own’ too. Allowing players the freedom and security to be able to execute what they think is best is a highly important means of learning for players and corrections and eventual conclusions will be far more effective and long lasting once they mistakes are made. This is done by encouraging independent decision making.
10) Look out for them
Above all else, no matter what happens on or off the field, have the players best interests at the forefront of all we do and everything will be fine. Having regular open dialogues about things off the field are the moments that draw player and coach closer together. The game is demanding and full of its own pressures and requires its own technical language at the best of times, but the human connection between a coach and player if carefully nurtured through warmth and mutual respect can lead to great performances on the grass when it matters most.