GOOD COACHING may seem obvious, but it ‘s not! It’s not about how smart you are tactically or technically. How much you know doesn’t by definition make you a good coach. How good an athlete you were in the sport doesn’t either! What makes you a good coach, what allows whatever knowledge you have inside of you to take hold and grow within your players is all HOW MUCH YOU CARE ABOUT THEM.
It’s a very simple and basic concept. Good coaching is all about communicating that caring to your players. Athletes who feel respected by and cared for by their coach will be more motivated to run through walls for that individual. Conversely, those athletes who feel that their coach doesn’t really care about them, will not have their heart in what they do whenever they play.
How do you show your players that you really care about them? You take the time to notice when they show up for practice. You get in the habit of regularly catching them doing things right and then you point it out to them and the whole team. You build, not tear down their self-esteem. You treat them with dignity and respect. You make sure that your actions and words say the same things. In other words, you walk the talk. You treat them as individuals and not just athletes who have to perform for you. You are honest with them. You are fair and don’t play favorites. You are a straight shooter and don’t play mind games.
You’re NOT a good coach when you allow players on your team to scape-goat and/or demean each other. Good coaches create a safe learning environment. There is nothing safe about being on a team where teammates regularly criticize and yell at each other. There is nothing safe about being on a team when you are picked on or ostracized by your teammates. It’s the coach’s responsibility to set very clear limits to prevent these kinds of “team busting” behaviors. There should be no place for them on a winning team.
You’re NOT a good coach when you play favorites. Good coaches treat their athletes fairly. They don’t operate with two different sets of rules, i.e. one for the “chosen few” and one for the rest of the team. Coaches who play favorites go a long way towards creating performance disrupting dissension on their squads.
You’re NOT a good coach when you treat your players with disrespect. I don’t care what your won-loss record is or how many championships you’ve won in the past. When you treat preadolescent and adolescent athletes disrespectfully you are NOT a good coach. Great educators don’t teach in this manner. They value their students and make them feel that value, both as learners and individuals. Your position and reputation should not determine whether you get respect from your team. What does determine whether people respect you is how you ACT! Your behavior is what’s paramount. Good coaches earn their respect from their players on a daily basis, over and over again based on how they conduct themselves and how they interact with their athlete and everyone else associated with the program. If you think that you’re too important to earn respect, then you are distinguishing yourself as a bad coach!
You’re NOT a good coach when you don’t “walk the talk.” What you say to your players means nothing if it doesn’t come from who you are as a person. Simply put, your words have to closely match your behaviors. Great coaches are great role models in that they teach through their behaviors. They don’t operate on a double standard where it’s OK for them to act one way but hold their athletes to a different and higher standard of behavior. If you as a coach teach through the maximum, “do as I say, NOT as I do,” then you have distinguished yourself as a poor coach.
You’re NOT a good coach when you refuse to take responsibility for your behavior, when you refuse to own your mistakes and instead, blame others for them. The mark of a great educator is that they present themselves as human. They do not let their ego get involved in the more important task of teaching. Therefore when something goes wrong, they are quick to own their part in it. Good coaches take responsibility for their team’s failures and give their team and athletes full responsibility for successes. Bad coaches blame their athletes for losses and take the credit for the team’s successes.
You’re NOT a good coach when you play “head games” with your athletes. If you talk behind their backs, play one athlete off against another or are dishonest in your interactions with your players then you are doing nothing constructive to help your players learn and grow as athletes and individuals. Telling a player one thing and then turning around and doing exactly the opposite is not how you go about effective coaching. For example, promising a player more playing time if he/she does A, B, and C, and then keeping them on the bench after they do everything you’ve just asked of them is a game that will kill your athlete’s love of the sport, crush their spirit and destroy their confidence. This is not how great coaches motivate their players!