When it comes to optimizing an athlete’s performance, many coaches look at the player’s technical, tactical or even mental abilities and skills. The coach has a massive influence on the athlete’s athletic performance and yet is often neglected.
A coach can support a player with his verbal statements and his overall behaviour or hinder him in his performance. Athletes, for example, react very sensitively to the comments, facial expressions and gestures of their trainers when preparing for a competition.
How to build positive and trusting relationships with players
One way to build a positive and trusting relationship with a player is to show the athlete that you understand them and their thoughts and feelings. It is the job of every coach to recognize the values, norms and what is important to the athlete.
For example, in a conversation with a player, the coach has the opportunity to mirror what the player said in other words. By doing this, the coach achieves two things. First, it shows the player that the coach has listened and understood what the player is talking about.
Secondly, this mirroring offers the player the opportunity to hear again what he himself said before. He can reflect on whether this is actually what he thinks or feels. Players will not regret that they become a member (mitglied werden) of the team.
Expressing congruence means that the trainer is authentic in his statements and behaviour and does not hide behind a professional facade. The trainer’s inner attitude must match his actual behaviour. If neither one nor the other matches the personality of the coach, the player will notice this. As a consequence, the players doubt the honesty of the coach.
The feeling that a coach is conveying to his player that he genuinely accepts and appreciates the player’s values, attitudes and behaviour can greatly affect the quality of the relationship between the two. This is by no means about the coach finding everything the player is doing right.
If a coach found everything his player was doing right, there would be no opportunity for the player to develop. Rather, it is about valuing the feelings, values and behaviour of the player. The player will most likely have different reasons for behaving the way he does. These reasons should be considered in the work of coaches and players. Also, the player’s stats don’t have to be the same as the trainer’s.