Relationship Based Coaching: One at a Time

One on One

As we move toward more and more athlete-centered coaching, by way of modeling the behavior we want, we also move toward coach-centered coaching. The purpose of our work is to influence the greatest change possible in the culture of athletics. In so doing, coaches can model the behavior that is desirable with each other first. As mentor coaches come alongside younger, less experienced coaches, or simply those who are ready to learn from anyone with a certain measure of expertise. We are determined to make these connections one at a time, one at a time with coaches, and one at a time with players. Just as it’s a great goal for a coach to seek out at least one good, one on one time with each player per season, so any good mentor coach would be in contact with their protege at least once a quarter, but probably much more often. “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt.

As a coach reading this, you know that you can reach out to us directly, and we will gladly spend twenty minutes on the phone with you discussing any team related topic, or general coaching wisdom. You may also use that time for us to get to know you on a more personal level. This is the model that we established from the beginning, but are moving more doggedly into for this year. As you saw previously, the way of education has been distorted over time, and made less and less personalized. We seek now not only to personalize it, but to customize the education to what is most relevant to you right now, in your present circumstance or in building a vision for the future.

Higher Levels Require More Understanding Relationships

While our testing is very broad at the lowest level, the purpose behind that is too prepare you for a wide range of possibilities that can occur as you coach. Those that want to move to higher levels of coaching, and/or become a mentor coach, require not only vetting by us to make sure you are a great fit with the mission and objectives of the organization, but to ensure that you will participate with us in a more or less egalitarian way.
We want to foster stake holders in sport who carry the same basic values. Of course, “If everyone is thinking the same, then somebody isn’t thinking”, General George S. Patton. We do want some dissent, we want members who push us to better ourselves just as we push you to better yourself. Even if we aren’t pushing, we at least open the door of new knowledge and shed light on the way.

“The eye cannot see, what the mind does not know.” Anonymous. It seems that on a weekly basis Styrling and I are growing and changing as we work together to further and refine the vision for our Athlete Centered Approach to coaching. In it, we are focused on training players for the reality of what they will face. There is a cost in a relationship between player and coach, when what is taught and coached does not match up with the reality, of what is happening in the competition. Just as in a previous chapter we talked about Lute Olson, and how he asked a player to tell what he saw on the court, this really should be our way. Coaching in a way that draws out the experience of the player, and furthering our own knowledge as coaches by gaining valuable coaching insights from those further along the path models that in turn for our players.

Good News About Relationships on a Larger Scale

In shifting gears to an organizational perspective, today I was listening to a podcast as a national training center has recently opened for a certain sport. The director was speaking on a podcast of the host, who had been engaging with the governing body for greater transparency, and ease in communication for years. This new director walks the talk of opening things up, while making sure that people know the process and criteria for selection to different levels of training at the center.

What has been stated, and is presumably gone are the relationships of favoritism. So, players will now need to maintain good relationships with their regional representatives, so as to gain a recommendation to train at the center for the highest levels, which is 25% of the criteria, while 75% of the criteria is metric measurement of ability. Other lower levels of play are more inclusive. I think this is a very wise move, because those who seem to want to develop relationships, and help people get placed so that they can curry favor, are really doing a disservice to the process. So these relationships, one by one, don’t all need to be extremely close friendships, but there is a need for civility, respect and professionalism from all parties to keep moving along. Ultimately, this is for the good of the athlete, and the process by which athletes continue to improve does not necessarily have to be at a certain place with a certain group. There are many ways to get where you are going. Additionally, some of the better stories in sports that engage fans the most are those that are unconventional, where the athlete showed a rare resourcefulness to find ways to get better outside the norm. In many of those cases, it was a strong supportive relationship that helped the athlete through that adversity.

At the very end of the presentation, it was affirmed by host and guest that the director has an open door policy and will respond to emails, and other social media requests. Bravo!
In conclusion, from coach to player, from mentor coach to fellow coach, and governing bodies to all sports stakeholders, developing those relationships one at a time is they way to further the richness of the sports experience no matter the outcomes. We do believe that those outcomes have greater potential when the relationships are better.

Reach out today:  usatenniscoach@gmail.com.

Bill

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