Winning the trust of your players is something many coaches overlook. They assume that the players will instantly like their coaching or believe in what they’re teaching. It’s tough to win trust..here are some ways to get them on your side.
Care for them
It is enormously challenging for any leader in any sport to be both liked and respected. Popular psychology suggests that one trades off with the other – be their mate and they won’t respect you, demand intensity and performance and they won’t like you. Whilst difficult to blend the two together I’m unconvinced that it’s impossible.
To bring a player into your coaching culture you have to care for him or her. You have to develop an interest in the person behind the player. If it’s young footballers you coach learn about their challenges at school. If your charges are adult players learn about their interests outside of the football environment.
By knowing a little about each player you show you care, and in turn make it tougher for players to harm team spirit or destroy the togetherness of the team. That’s great football psychology in your role as a coach.
Win the hearts and minds of your players by coaching them – as individuals and as team mates. This sounds obvious right? Yet I’ve come across many coaching cultures that fail miserably in this area.
Avoid judging their natural ability and focus your attention on the development process. As a local coach you can win plaudits for developing the best coaching process in your area. Have a firm eye on achieving this, more so than winning games. Players want to improve, develop and learn above anything. They want to be taught and they want to be inspired through great coaching.
Trust is delivered through your expert eye and through your guiding voice. A promise to players that they will develop their game under your tutelage will win their trust and loyalty more than anything else.
Your players and team are merely a reflection of your coaching ability and your coaching culture. Never blame players for a loss. Merely offer correction. If they’ve made mistakes red flag these as areas to coach and to improve upon. Mark it as an area of challenge for both you and the player to improve upon. Make the mistake ‘we’ rather than ‘him’ or ‘her’. Certainly don’t blame players in public. If there is a correction to be made, do so away from the lights and on the training ground or in the changing room.
I have worked in many different coaching cultures. I often find the least successful ones are found where communication is poor between coaching staff and players. Open lines of communication win player loyalty. It shows you’re engaged in them as players and as people. It shows you’re invested in their game. Make sure your conversations with players are specific to them – be specific with your instruction and your feedback. Never compare a player to a team mate but always make it goal and target oriented. Research has repeatedly shown that feedback is most effective when it addresses a learner’s advancement towards a goal, rather than less meaningful aspects of performance.