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Coach's Playbook

Relationships Rule

Posted on 6/15/2016 by Shaleek Blackburn

Coach talking to football player during a game.

In order to develop and maintain a leading sports program, coaches must establish authentic, meaningful relationships, not only with student-athletes and their parents, but also with school administrators and the community-at-large, says Jon Hamro, a professor for the Master's of Coaching and Athletic Administration program at Concordia University Irvine. The most signi cant relationship, says Hamro, who is also the athletic director at San Clemente High School, is the one between coaches and players, and not just the stars.

“As a coach, it’s easy to endear yourself to the top athlete, but what about that square peg that’s never going to t in that round hole, that fth-string player? Those are the kids that you really need to focus on.” By building genuine relationships with players, Hamro advises, athletic leaders achieve a critical goal, establishing trust and a team that will want to play for you.

“When kids feel cared for and valued— that they have a real connection with their coach—they’ll run through walls for them,”

says Hamro. Additionally, coaches need to bond with parents. “Parents want to know the coach has the best interest of their child at heart,” Hamro adds. And while that may not equate to signi cant playing time, it will result in bolstering the player’s self-esteem, which in turn will build a stronger sports program. Finally, to hit a home run for their team, coaches need to cultivate off-campus connections. “The school is not just the geographical boundaries of your fence line,” says Hamro. “Not only are coaches role models in how we behave and teach our players, but also in how we demonstrate our concern and involvement in the community, by supporting causes, being active and visible.” If coaches want to create raving fans of their program, from the student body and the staff to the administration and parents, they have to get the message out that it’s more than what is on the scoreboard on Friday nights, he says. “The message needs to resonate in the community that you are empowering kids with the tools to be successful and doing good for society.”

3 Tips For Becoming A Community Champion

Give Back

Lend a hand to local causes and organizations. In return, you can establish bonds beyond the field.

Talk It Out

Establish clear and candid lines of communications with players, parents and people in the neighborhoods near and around your school.

X’s and O’s

Show your student-athletes that you care about their playing ability and their personal well being; focus on the fundamentals and watch your program flourish.

Tags: Coaching, development, team, relationships

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