by Mandy Green, Busy Coach
It is amazing how many transfers are out there these days. A big reason for wanting to transfer that I’m hearing is that they didn’t feel like they connected well with the coaching staff once they got to campus for their freshman year. To me, for that coaching staff, I feel that’s a huge waste all of the time and energy they had put into recruiting them in the first place.
I have heard a few coaches say they’re too busy recruiting their future team and find that they just don’t have any time or energy left to put into the team that they currently have.
And that brings me to your current recruiting.
When you bring a recruit to campus, are they going to see a program that is hanging on by a thread in terms of the team’s relationship with the coaching staff? Or, is it a healthy, thriving team that has great team/staff chemistry?
I know that you may be busy, but if the answer to those questions anything other than “thriving,” for the sake of your future recruiting efforts, you need to create time in your schedule to build team/staff relationships and do some important things internally that can drastically improve the atmosphere. Otherwise, you will need to be prepared to see it have a negative impact on your recruiting and you will probably have your players leave.
Being too busy is a myth. “If it’s important enough for you you’ll find the time. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” People always make time for the things that are important to them, being too busy is just an excuse.
When trying to build relationships with your athletes, there are six important concepts to convey to each and every athlete on your team.
Show that you care and are concerned for the player as a person.
Take the initiative to invest the time to connect with them as people. Go out early to practices and work with players, to talk about the day’s events, and show you are interested. Ask about their families, how their classes are going, how they feel about the team’s confidence, commitment, or even how they feel about their role on the team, chemistry, etc.
Communicate in an effort to build understanding
“Increase communication, decrease anxiety. Decrease communication, increase anxiety.” It is very important to give players a very clear sense of why they are going to be doing what they are doing. By communicating early and often to each of them about their roles, your vision, goals, and your expectations, you will reduce the risk of miscommunication and ineffectiveness.
Be willing to listen
The student-athletes in your program deserve your full and immediate attention when they come to see you. When a player comes to talk to you, stop what you are doing and focus on nothing else but what they are saying. Make eye contact, nod your head when you understand what they are saying, and don’t interrupt until they are done talking. When players feel like you are listening to and care about what they have to say, you will have their trust and respect.
Share ‘ownership’ of the process
A coaching style based on command and control may not work as well as it has in the past. Entrust your players with some responsibility and then make sure you support them as they put their decisions into action. Get feedback from them about drills they like, practice gear, the locker room, travel routines, and about recruits that they hosted. Being included in the journey throughout the year empowers players to have greater control of their collegiate experience and ensures player motivation and cooperation.
Create adult-adult relationship
Traditionally, coaches used fear and intimidation to motivate athletes. Successful coaches now are focusing on developing strong relationships with athletes based on trust and respect. There is no way in this day and age that you can expect to control everything that goes on with your program. Clearly define what your expectations, goals, roles, and vision are and then let your team run with it. You will get more from each and every player you have when and if they feel like they are trusted, respected, and allowed to have the freedom to utilize their talents to reach their potential.
Be willing to laugh and cry together
Collegiate sports are so much more than the game. For many players and coaches, the team is their second family. The relationships built can last a lifetime. Coach, stop being serious all of the time and enjoy the people who you are surrounded by. If you are going to have a successful program, your players need to look forward to coming to practice, be surrounded by people who are fun to be around, and in an atmosphere where they can learn and develop and people and players.
Better relationships with your players will lead to a more motivated and psychologically strong team. Focus on developing strong relationships with athletes based on trust and respect. When players feel like they are cared for, being listened to, know what is expected of them, and have a role in accomplishing the team goals, they will “go to war” for you and for the team.
I realize that all of the things I listed above are common knowledge. I wanted to talk about it because it is not common practice.
Find the time to build these relationships. I have used tracking forms to make sure that I am connecting with my team consistently. Do I do it perfectly all of the time? Absolutely not. But I am trying and I can see that it is helping with the environment that we have here, our transfer rate has dropped significantly, and with how the current players interact with our recruits when they are on campus.
If you are interested in learning more ways to be productive in the office or with recruiting, please email me at email@example.com or go to my website at Busy.Coach.