Coaching Advice: Are You Creating Robots, or Building Relationships?

Fear of consequences influences an athletes' behaviour

Coaching Advice

We’ve often said that any training plan should focus on building positive relationships, through communication, trust, and engagement.

In a previous coaching advice blog post, we talked about how great student-coach relationships do not happen organically. As with any other kind of relationship, they develop over time and often require work to make them great.

A love for their sport is what drives many coaches, along with valuing the time they spend with their young, budding athletes. Why? Because they discover coaching children is fun! As the years go by, many fond memories are linked to times of happiness and laughter with these athletes, and not just when they have achieved something great or won medals.

This is why it can be hard to understand why some coaches choose to develop a training plan which sees their athletes train like robots. It may not be a deliberate act but is often inevitable under the coaching regime and conditions their training plan provides.

Here is our coaching advice…

Coaching Advice: Helping Athletes “Be More Confident”

How good are you at giving your students feedback?

Coaching Advice

It may sound like a strange question, but when it comes to coaching, this is something I think about often…

…helping athletes “be more confident.”

On its own, telling an athlete to be more confident is not going to magically flick a switch which will make them immediately feel competent enough to perform skills they previously struggled with.

As a form of feedback, “be more confident” is useless! Outlined below, I’ll give some coaching advice to remedy this.

Tackling a Lack of Self-Belief

By definition, confidence (or self-confidence in this case) is ‘belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities.’ Ask an athlete to perform a skill they lack self-belief in, and their chances of performing it with ‘confidence’ are limited.

Could confidence be something someone could fake? Could it be something they can simply ‘switch on’ when asked?

No.

Coaching Advice: What Does Great Coaching Look Like?

Creating a positive working environment is a great motivator for both athletes and coaches alike.

Coaching Advice

In one of our recent coaching advice posts, we discussed the importance of coaching the mindset, not just technique. Closely aligned with this is the importance of developing a strong coach-athlete relationship.

Creating a positive working environment is a great motivator for both athletes and coaches alike. As our previous post suggested, coaches who approach training through military style ‘shout and command’ tactics will quickly find their students demoralised and motivated only by a fear of failure.

Let’s look at this from another perspective.

Imagine sitting in your workplace each day, with your boss shouting at you for the entire day? How long could you last? How long before your motivation wanes and resentment towards your employer builds?

In such an environment it doesn’t take long before your performance levels drop as your self-esteem hits rock bottom. The same is true in a coaching relationship.

Why Coaching Is About Mindset, Not Just Technique

Coaches have a responsibility to look after their athletes' mental well-being, not just their physical well-being

 

coaching

When you think about ethical coaching, what values and philosophies do you attach to it? Many coaches will have their own ideas about what it should look like, along with a number of irritations firmly placed under the umbrella of ‘bad coaching practice.’

New coaches often begin filled with a sense of power and authority over the young athletes they are coaching. If there is one thing Spiderman taught us it is that “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

This responsibility doesn’t just apply to the physical aspects of coaching, but emotional well-being too.

Confidence and Coaching

Creating a positive coaching environment is a great motivator for both coaches and students alike

Confidence and Coaching

Coaches who approach training through military style ‘shout and command’ tactics will quickly find their students demoralised and motivated only by a fear of failure.

Let’s look at this from another perspective.

Imagine sitting in your workplace each day, with your boss shouting at you for the entire day? How long could you last? How long before your motivation wanes and resentment towards your employer builds?

In such an environment it doesn’t take long before your performance levels drop as your self-esteem hits rock bottom. The same is true of the coach/student relationship.

Remember Who You Are Coaching

The big problem here is that the students in your charge are children, not adults. As adults, we are able to express ourselves, communicate discontent and take action to remedy the situation.

Children, however, are not as adept at communicating their feelings. They arrive at each training session with a desire to learn and trust in your coaching methods. They have no flexibility in the training provided and no ability to defend themselves.

Are You Pulling In Opposite Directions?

This kind of ‘yelling and telling’ environment is a slippery slope. The more demands placed on them, the greater the chances they will not want to perform. At this point, a tug-of-war then develops between unhappy children and an aggravated coach.

Within any high performing culture, morale is an important asset – the rapport between coaches and their students must take precedence over the potential rewards.

Rapport Must Come First

Building rapport is easy. Truly, it is. The first thing to remember is that you should treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself. Be courteous and respectful. They are children first, your student, second. This is the secret to long-term morale.

Often coaches become immune to the emotions of their students, developing instead an inferior, sterile form of teaching.

The coach who invests in the emotional well-being of their pupils and takes the time to build a rapport with them will discover they then perform better.

Rapport Building Coaching Tips

Where many coaches come unstuck is in failing to get to know the people they teach. Find out more about them and their life – Do they enjoy school? What did they do last weekend? What are their favourite things?

The most important element in building rapport is trust. Make sure you build it, not break it.

Being approachable and showing empathy will make it easier for your students to share their concerns with you too. Children will not communicate if they feel intimidated or fear consequences.

Show you can cater to the needs of individuals as well as the group, and treat everyone equally. When it comes to giving feedback, make it positive and authentic – they need to feel it is genuine.

The Best Coaches….

Are those who have the best understanding of their pupils. As Tony Robbins said –

“Most teachers know their subject, but they don’t know their students.”

While it may be easier to build rapport with the parents than the children themselves, shifting your focus to the child is essential if you are to develop a deeper understanding of them.

Why? Because this is the only way you can hope to discover what drives them, what motivates them, their inspiration, their goals. More than this, you will learn how to read their emotions, feelings, their body language….

The time you spend developing a great coach/student relationship is an investment. One which will save you time, and make your time coaching much more fulfilling.

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Article by Nick Ruddock, resident Coaching Expert, and Consultant.