Regardless of the current relationship you have with your head coach and/or position coach, if you hope to have a successful season, your ability to work well together is critical. Based on my experience and perspective as a current HS coach and former Big 10 athlete, the following tips on how you can improve your relationship with your coach and leverage him to help you and your team have greater success are worth considering and putting into action.
First and foremost, respect your coach. Respect that he has taken on the daunting task of being a coach. He has chosen to spend time away from his family to work with you and your teammates. That in itself makes him admirable. Respect his knowledge. Coaches are always improving. They’re watching film all year round, visiting with college coaches, attending clinics and meeting as a staff to hone the best plan for the upcoming season. He has not made any decision lightly. If he is going to invest an abundant amount time and energy into you and your team, he’s done more work than you probably know or understand.
LEARN TO COMMUNICATE:
The first step in effectively communicating with your coach is to LISTEN. Your coach can tell how well you listen by how well you attempt or perform the concept he is teaching. Once you’ve earned the trust of your coach by listening, then you can work on approaching him towards a successful discussion. I see many players who are afraid to talk to their coach about what they see on the field or describing their rationale for what they did on a play. That information is critical to helping your coach make adjustments and call the right plays. Being silent doesn’t help. You need to cultivate your communication in practice and in the film room before you can hope to be confident about it in the heat of the game, under the lights.
WORK ON THE RELATIONSHIP:
Develop a strong player-coach relationship. Notice I didn’t say “friendship.” Your coach wants you to know that he cares about you, but also wants to be able to correct and teach you without you taking it personally. There are a lot of players who think their coach is like a friend. Then, when he gets on them for a mistake, they take it as a personal attack and they shut down. Your coach is attempting to raise your level of play to a level you may not think is possible. In fact, you might fight the corrections he is suggesting. But give him permission to tell you the truth. Then trust him enough to do what he’s coaching you to do. The quote I love to tell kids is, “What incentive does your coach have to teach you the wrong thing?” The answer is of course, “NONE!” When you put your ego aside and allow yourself to be coached, great things are going to happen.
Support your coach publicly, disagree with him privately. This last step will only happen if you’ve figured out the previous three steps. If you learn to respect him, know how to communicate with him and have a solid relationship, you’ll appreciate even more how important he is to the team. Your coach can have as much impact on the team as you, the leader, allows him to have. People will look to you and how you interact with and talk about the coach when he is not around. If you’re a guy who bashes your coach or worse yet, doesn’t defend him when others criticize him, your coach’s ability to influence and impact the team will diminish because trust is eroded. If there are criticisms or complaints, and the relationship is right, you can speak directly to him face to face. The potential for others’ intervention may complicate the situation or cause more harm. Minimizing the conflict so you and your team can move forward is the wise choice that leaders take advantage of.
While hard work, proper training, a good attitude and performance are vital to a successful season, remember to include the key elements needed in working effectively with your coach. Adding and applying it to your life and in your future workplace will serve you and others well.