"The best teachers coach their students and the best coaches are great teachers."
- Grant Teaff
Here are some tips on how to connect with your athletes so you can challenge them to be great!
1. Understand each athlete’s expectations. For example, figure out if a high school athlete is on the team to have fun or to build their resume to get recruited by a D1 university.
2. Have clear rules and expectations, and be consistent.
3. Be an observer and take time to analyze situations. Ask questions before judging, be it an athlete losing his/her temper or an athlete not understand a tactical aspect of the sport.
4. Get to know each athlete on a personal level. Learn differences in attitude, sensitivity, how each responds to adversity and criticism, and learn what motivates them.
5. Know the athlete as a person. Take interest in your athlete on and off the field. Learn what challenges them and what they are passionate about.
6. Give specific praise to build self-esteem. Do this by catching and reinforcing things that your athletes do right.
7. Challenge your athletes to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Create challenging and competitive environments in practice. For this to work, coaches need to create an emotionally safe learning environment.
8. Create an environment that is imaginative and fun. If you can do this in practice and competition, it develops peak performance because athletes learn to perform calm and focused.
9. Teach life lessons on and off the field, like rebounding from setbacks, trusting your teammates, sacrificing individual needs for the benefit of the group, dealing with emotions, honesty, and integrity.
10. Build a proactive not reactive relationship with parents. Educate parents on the game, and their role on the team. Also, be willing to listen to their questions and concerns.
11. Walk the walk, practice what you preach. Actions speak louder than words.
12. Be a lifelong learner as a coach, this involves professional development and a willingness to be open to change as well.
13. Passion, remember what makes you passionate about coaching because if you aren’t having fun, no one is.