Dedicated coaches regularly seek to expand their coaching knowledge and learn the latest when it comes to player development and maximizing team success. Coach leadership training not only helps with on-field success, but also helps coaches provide kids a fun and meaningful sport experience.
Joe Torre, former manager for the New York Yankees, once said in his book Ground Rules for Winners that a very important lesson to learn for coaches is to get to know each player individually, but apply the same rules and consequences to all. Ironically, because it sounds so simple, this approach is sometimes overlooked or forgotten. The challenge is balancing the “people skills” of successful coaching with teaching skills, scheduling games, and all the other many tasks coaches regularly experience. Still, the pursuit of knowing kids personally while instilling fair rules for all is the gold-standard for coaches, according to Torre.
Analyzing the Torre approach
Personally, I think Torre hit it out of the park with his coaching advice, and my experience has shown that coaches who take the time to build unique relationships with players and enforce rules consistently put themselves in the best possible position to maximize team success. Drilling deeper, knowing players individually means taking the time necessary to talk, ask questions, learn about individual goals, and essentially try and figure out what makes each player “tick.” When players break team rules, however, Torre would suggest that each player face the same consequences — regardless of whether it is a star player or reserve. When coaches let star players off easily, it might be nice for the star, but the coach often loses the rest of his team as a result.
Below are a few quick ideas to help you begin strengthening the relationships with the kids you coach:
- If possible, try and set time aside to meet with each athlete 1-1 before the start of the season — even if it’s just 10 minutes.
- During each meeting show your genuine appreciation for the athlete’s contributions to the team, and ask if he or she has any advice for making the team better.
- Some powerful questions you might want to ask during your 1-1 meetings include what are your personal goals? How can we as a coaching staff support those goals? And in what other ways can we help you get the most from your potential?
Taking time to get to know your players will pay dividends on and off the field – your team will play with better chemistry and cohesion, and you’ll likely have a lot of fun, too.