For virtually every student athlete, it is simply not enough for them to achieve results with their talent alone, no matter how promising their skills may be. The right coach is the key factor that will enable them to push their own personal limits to reach new heights and be the absolute best that they can be. However, this can only be done when the coaching process is approached in the right way; determining exactly what the correct process is can be quite difficult.
Bob Reasso, a highly-experienced athletic director with a firmly-established history of working in the higher education industry, has some thoughts concerning the ways in which coaches of student athletes can be the ideal mentor, going beyond merely achieving results and building a relationship that can last a lifetime.
Mastering communication skills is essential for coaches, as communication occurs frequently between them and their athletes. Virtually every moment is an opportunity to communicate effectively and build up your relationship with them, says Bob Reasso. The first concept to keep in mind is that communication should always be a two-way street. Too often, the communication that comes from coaches borders on being oppressive, leaving little room for the athlete’s voice to be heard. The ideal coach will talk and listen in equal measure, setting the standard for communication as one of mutual respect. In addition, they will also show a genuine interest in their athlete whenever they communicate, investing in their personal life as much as their professional one.
There are only 24 hours within the day and for coaches, it can be difficult to fit all of the necessary tasks and proceedings into their schedule. With this in mind, however, it is inevitable that every individual will make time for what is important in their life and the ideal coach will set aside a substantial amount of availability for their athlete. In addition to going above and beyond the minimum amount of time for training, Bob Reasso says that coaches should also ensure that they are just as available emotionally as they are physically. Many student athletes can feel overwhelmed by the pressures within their lives and this is an opportunity for coaches to step in and be a pillar of support for them.
During the coaching process, it is of the utmost importance to use positive reinforcement at all times. When a coach is building up their relationship with their student athlete, they are investing in them as a person and this means that the coach’s mindset needs to be person-based, not results-based. They must recognize that they have the capacity to push their athlete to succeed without over-emphasizing their shortcomings and take every opportunity to highlight how far they’ve come.
With all of these aspects in mind, as a coach, you will be well on your way to a truly deep and special relationship with your student athlete. However, it is critical to avoid complacency, namely doing things out of routine instead of deliberately.
Trust between a coach and a student athlete is best maintained with a genuine approach and it is most certainly a two-way street. Trust is about the student athlete trusting that their coach has their best interests in mind and the coach trusting that their student will listen intently and follow their instructions because they want to, not because they have to, says Bob Reasso.