Last week we discussed five things that coaches wanted in players and it generated a lot of good dialogue. This week we’ll be discussing five things that players want in coaches, and hopefully it’ll do the same. When coming up with these traits I thought back to what I wanted from a coach when I was a player, what I would look for in assistant coaches, and what I feel are some of the most important traits a coach can have. Just as last week, we’ll count these down from five to one.
5. Players want a coach who walks the walk. As a coach we are constantly telling our athletes what we want them to do on and off the court. We are, in a sense, like a third parental figure. Players don’t want coaches who say or claim to be about one thing and then do something else. As coaches we can never be like this phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.” We have to realize that we are role models and we must act accordingly. It should always be, “Do as I say, but more importantly, do as I do.” If we want our kids to play present and not argue officials’ calls then we cannot complain and argue calls every game. If you do, you’re sending a mixed message. We must model the positive attitudes and conduct we expect from our athletes on and off the court.
4. Players want to play for a coach who is empathetic. It really wasn’t that long ago that we were all players ourselves…ok maybe it was. As coaches we cannot forget what it was like to be a high school kid. One of my biggest pet peeves as a teacher and coach is when we as educators and coaches forget we were once in their shoes. Teens face a lot of pressure from school, home, work, and athletics, all while trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be. As coaches we can be the person who is compassionate towards the pressure and struggles they often face. Kids are going to make mistakes and make bad decisions sometimes. I know I have. So we must not be quick to point a finger of blame and give looks of disapproval. We do need to be stern in our expectations, but we also need to be the shoulder to cry on or the ear to listen for our athletes as well.
3. Players need a coach who is a knowledgeable motivator. A coach can’t just be someone who sits and watches games. Rather we should be students of the game, always seeking opportunities to learn and improve our knowledge. We should always be looking for ways to improve our craft and stay up with the latest and greatest for our athletes. Coaches also need to be able to relate to today’s youth and be a source of inspiration. This motivation not only should apply to athletics but it should apply to all areas of life. Coaches should actively try to motivate their athletes to be the best they can be in everything we do. If our influence ends once the season or high school career is over, then we haven’t done our job to the best of our ability. Players want to play for someone who knows the game they coach and they also want someone who motivates them to be their best.
2. Players want to play for a coach who is fun. Sports should always be about having fun first. If your sole focus as a coach is to win, then you are failing yourself and your athletes. Players want someone who makes practices fun. Our seasons are long and can become tedious if we do not create a fun environment. Coaches need to let their guards down and let their athletes see their true personalities and sense of humor. It’s great to joke around with players, but obviously this needs to be done so within the proper context. Players are not going to enjoy playing for a coach who does not make it fun. As a coach you should play games at practices, have team-bonding events, and get to know your kids outside of the sport. Let your athletes see the fun side of your personality. Never let the focus always be on winning rather make it a fun environment where the kids enjoy being there every day. Lastly, ask yourself this, “Would the 16-year-old version of me want to play for me as a coach today?”
1. The number one thing a player ultimately wants is a coach who loves their players. As coaches we spend an extraordinary amount of time with our athletes during very formative years of their lives. We must not only create an environment that is fun, but we absolutely must make sure it is a loving and caring one as well. Make it a point to talk to each player every day. Give them a high-five, fist bump, handshake, or hug every day. The environment needs to be one of acceptance and love for all team members. Let each kid know that you truly care about him or her by having conversations with them. Your conversations should not always be on sports. Coaches need to get to know their players away from the game so we can provide help in areas of our athletes live. One thing I always tell my players is, “What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball or football player.” If we don’t love our players as a coach and our players do not know it, we’ve failed. I always tell my players I love them because I do. I spend a great deal of time with them and when you do you develop close relationships. And ultimately, that is what sports and life are all about, quality relationships.
I hope this has been helpful and will lead to great dialogue like last week’s post did. Coaches, feel free to comment and share any traits you feel are essential as well. Players, your input and feedback would be great and is always welcomed and appreciated.
Thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!