Without connection, you don’t have coaching. As a sports coach we all want our players to have a quality experience in every session, not just take part. Our job is to hook them in, engage them, help them and get them to come back.
Connecting is all about taking the focus off yourself and bringing your attention to your players. To create quality ‘player-centred‘ experiences your participants need to feel connected to the activities, to others and to you. There are multiple ways that you can create this connection in your coaching sessions. Below are just some ways:
Talk to people before the session starts – Get to the courts / fields / track / facility early and make time to chat to the players.
Learn a bit about them – Get to know your members during the session and find out their goals / the reasons why they are there. Then, when you see them achieving their goals, acknowledge and congratulate them.
Show respect and care – These people have made an effort to turn up to your session. Be open, approachable and respectful. This will change the energy on the playing area.
Welcome your new people – Smile at them, reassure them that you will look after them and offer opportunities for them to build their skills and confidence. Demonstrate and explain what is involved. Let them know what is coming up. Learn their names and use them during the session.
Be real – Be yourself when you’re there – don’t put on a big act. Think of your players as though you’re hanging out with your friends. It will make it so much easier to create a natural connection with people.
Make eye contact and use praise – Acknowledge and congratulate each players’ efforts both during and at the end of each session. Make contact with every player – high fives, a quick word…
Be a good listener – Stop what you’re doing. Turn to face the person who is talking. Put your arms down, close your mouth and nod. Really absorb what they are saying. Rephrase what was said and repeat it back so they know you have been paying attention.
Ask for feedback and offer to help with any questions after the session – Allow time at the end of each session to answer any enquiries and offer additional tips that can help them with their game. This is also a good chance for you to reflect on your coaching too. Don’t forget to let them know when they can come back for more.
Coaching is all about experimenting to find what works for you. Be brave to try new things in your next few sessions to create meaningful connections with your players. You won’t believe the difference this will make.
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