Topic 1 – Build a Rapport

Building Rapports

When attempting to build rapport with players, coaches should mainly remember to coach the person, and not the sport.  Essentially, coach players for who they personally are, and not by just using typical coaching strategies.  For example, when going over film to correct mistakes from the past game, some players prefer to see a physical demonstration of what to properly do, rather than just be shown on video what they are doing wrong.  If coaches show the proper movement, rather than simply telling the player what they did was wrong, it saves the player embarrassment and builds the relationship between players and coaches.  Other players like to be coached hard, and do not mind being told off in front of the rest of the team.  Being successful at respecting players, and therefore garnering respect from them, all depends on figuring out who they are as a person, and then coaching them properly.  

Another way to build rapport between players and coaches is to show interest in their personal goals.  One way to engage a player in goal setting is to sit down with them and discuss their goals.  A player may want to improve his three point percentage by four percent this upcoming season.  Sitting down with them and discussing how they want to improve, whether it is through increased shooting drills, or a form change, shows the player you care about their personal goals, and not just team goals.  Showing interest in players personal goals conveys how much a coach cares about their players, increasing respect between the two.

Other common conversational gestures will help build rapport between player and coach.  Remembering players’ names is one of the easiest ways to show you care about them.  A coach can quickly do this by remembering one fact about a player, allowing the coach to quickly remember something about the player, and associate their name with it.  Eye contact and smiling is another basic conversational strategy to show care about what a player is saying, it also shows an understanding of what they are saying.  

Practice is the main place where rapport will be built, as it is where the coach and player interact the most.  One way to build partnership would be separating players into small groups, or working one on one with a player.  Small groups or one on one sessions during practice show the player you understand their skill level and weaknesses of their game.  During practice weaknesses or incorrect form are fine tuned.  Many movements or forms may not be textbook, but work very well in-game.  Another way to show a player you respect them is not fixing something that is not broken.  Allowing them to express themselves through their game, as long as it is working correctly, will build rapport. 

When practicing certain drills can be done to improve respect between players and coaches.  Generally drills focusing on toughness and communication build respect for coaches, teammates, and the game.  Other drills focusing on specific weaknesses of the player also build not necessarily respect, but improve the relationship between player and coach.

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There are many ways a coach can build rapport with players.  To start, polite conversational mannerisms will get the relationship off to a good start.  To continue building rapport, coach the player for who they are, and not the sport they play. Figuring out the players personality and values will make personal coaching possible.  Many activities can be done during practice to improve the relationship between players and coaches such as smaller group sizes, personalized drills, and drills focusing on communication and toughness.

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