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…

The Robot-Building Training Plan

Just like their metal, sci-fi-born counterparts, robotic athletes give the impression of being devoid of emotion, lacking personality and often fear to be expressive and creative in their respective sport.

Furthermore, they often lack the ability to properly communicate with their coaches.

One thing they can do well is follow instructions.

This may appeal to you and your coaching philosophy. But honestly, does the thought of spending countless hours with students who cannot be expressive or creative, or even fun, appeal?

By creating ‘robotic athletes’ you manufacture them to behave in a specific way and apply endless limitations, restraints, and rules. These athletes often lack self-esteem, simply because they cannot be themselves.

Fear of consequences also influences their behaviour, leaving them preferring the sterile-robot approach rather than risk getting into trouble.

That’s just tragic.

Creativity Or A Lack Of Discipline?

Coaches also fall into the trap of associating creativity and fun, with a lack of discipline and carelessness. Many feel that if their coaching focusses on creativity and having fun they would never achieve anything. Listen to our coaching advice – they will.

Injecting fun, character, laughter, energy and happiness into your training plan does not need to be detrimental to structure, discipline, commitment and work ethic. Indeed, the best clubs manage to achieve the perfect balance of all the above.

It is laughter, fun, and happiness that helps to build an athletes confidence and strengthen their passion for the sport. In turn, this builds a strong desire to come back to each and every training session.

Morale Comes Before Medals

Building good morale helps build a positive environment and culture. In turn, this makes your classes more enjoyable – and, ultimately, more productive.

To put it simply: Happy People Perform Better.

If your younger pupils are often miserable, prone to crying, lack expression or character, you could be missing a vital component in your training skills, or conversely, something needs to be removed.

It’s important therefore to encourage diversity, personality, and creativity in your athletes.

Before you go, consider the following questions:

  • How do you want your students to remember their training in years to come?
  • How do you want them to remember the time you spent with them?
  • Would they have positive memories or negative thoughts?
  • Are you suppressing character or allowing it to flourish?
  • Are you facilitating creativity or restricting it?
  • Do your pupils laugh and smile whilst training?
  • Are you having fun coaching them?
  • Do you enjoy the time spent with your students?
  • Do you regularly laugh and smile whilst training?

Most importantly, does the thought of spending another ten years in your current condition and environment scare you or excite you?

Coaching Advice Article by Nick Ruddock, Pay Subs Online’s resident Coaching Expert and Consultant.


Developing good relationships with your students requires time, something a lot of people don’t have spare. One of the key things draining your time is likely admin. If you’re looking to reduce your admin workload and save time today, why not download our free PDF detailing ‘Which Admin Tasks Can Be Done Quicker and Easier Online?’ – to download it for free, click here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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