(I’m ready for some sports ranting! It’s been a while. Here is the second of what may be many coaching rants on the concepts of program building using one of my favorite concepts, The Four P’s: Purpose, Pride, Passion & Performance, as a starting point.)
Relationships, relationships, relationships.
At the heart of it all rests the relationships. It’s what makes a team a team. It’s what makes being a part of something fun and rewarding.
Coaches, the kids you coach will grow up. They won’t likely remember the win and losses near as much as the experience. Those W’s and L’s we fret so much over now, fade with each passing day. What resonates for life, what makes the difference in a life, are the relationships built within our program.
How many of us sit down and plan or analyze the relationship piece of our program? We spend countless hours with schemes, drills, tape, testing, and practices.
How much time do we spend looking at our kids and getting to know them? Their strengths and weaknesses. Their troubles and triumphs. Their past and their present.
How can we help them get to where we, as a team, need them to be if we don’t know who they are and where they come from?
What can we do as coaches to improve our relationship-building skills? First, we can realize how important the coach/player relationship can be in our modern youth sports environment. We may be the only positive adult interaction some kids get in a whole day.
We can take some time in the offseason to go down your prospective roster one kid at a time and take stock in what you know about each kid. Make it a point to establish a connection with the kids you don’t know very well. No, you don’t need to give each kid a questionnaire to fill out and then spend weeks memorizing each kid’s answers.
Getting to know your players involves one simple step, and as a bonus, this step is also fun and rewarding.
Talk to them.
Yes, it’s that simple. Talk to them every day. During workouts, practices, in school, and around town, talk to them. Give them crap. Listen to them. Argue with them over favorite sports teams. Whatever it takes.
Find a connection to each kid.
Work just as hard to nurture and develop that relationship as you do planning practices and games.
Relationships. They are powerful tools.
And you know what? Nothing’s better than to have former players become current friends.