Apr 10, 2023

Tips to build a positive trainer-player bond

Success in sports depends on many factors. Naturally, talent and physical fitness are the starting points for the performance of a player but these are not independent of the trainer-athlete relationship. This relationship runs deeper than we may think. 
As verified by The Lancet, a coach has a significant influence on not just the physical but also the psychological development of their athletes. This blog explores this very important success factor and how to make it even more transformational.
Why does the trainer-athlete relationship matter?
Playing sports doesn’t just mean going out and having a day in the field. Athletes have to deal with competitiveness, stress, and self-esteem issues daily. Untreated stress may lead to performance anxiety, burnout, and ultimately performance difficulties in athletes. 
This is where a positive trainer-athlete relationship comes in!
This Frontiers in Psychology Journal confirms that a healthy relationship between the trainer and player supports the latter’s coping strategies. It helps them manage internal and external demands that can be taxing on an individual’s mind, improve their performance, and leads to a sense of happiness and fulfillment.  
According to a Frontiers in a Psychology paper, a good-quality trainer-player relationship has 4 main dimensions:
·      Closeness and feelings of respect, trust, and appreciation.
·      Complementarity, including levels of coordination and collaboration.
·      Commitment, implying a willingness to maintain a stable relationship.
·      Co-orientation, or the degree of understanding between the trainer and the player.
How can you develop a better relationship with your player?
A strong relationship between the trainer and the player is not something that’s just there. It is a key performance factor, which has the potential to transform the athlete into a better person in the long run. 
So, for a thing that is this important, what can you as a trainer do to create a better relationship?
Get to know your players
The primary and most important factor that allows you to have a strong relationship with your athletes is how much you know them. Every trainer has a different methodology and for that to work, they need to know how their team will react.
This comes from the recognition of the traits of the athletes. While some traits such as weaknesses and strengths may be palpable, some are discovered only after closer introspection. And, this is what decides the recipe for the success of your team. 
For instance, knowing their school and family situation helps in knowing what motivates them. This closer bond leads to a stronger trainer-athlete relationship.
Be respectful
The foundation of any strong relationship is respect for each other. While athletes respect their trainers’ authority, you should also treat them with respect. This comes from thinking of them as more than just players and as individuals with respective goals and feelings.
Your players must be able to express themselves without the fear of being put down or judged. 
A team culture of mutual respect can be created and strengthened by holding one-on-one sessions for setting goals and checking their progress. 
Give clear and constructive feedback
Trainer’s feedback is critical on many levels. Along with directing and supporting the player, it also challenges them to perform better. However, feedback must be constructive and positive for it to make an impact. 
One of the best ways to make the feedback get received well, you should have a dialogue with the player. Let it be a two-way conversation where you listen to what the athlete has to say. Pepper it with honest appreciation and gloss over the shortcomings with a positive approach. Instead of relating it just to their short-term performance, focus on the player’s long-term performance and future in the game.
Never blame or deride them for their performance. Instead, focus on their strong points and encourage them to do better.
Set measurable goals 
To perform well at a sport as a team, the trainer and the athletes need to be on the same page. This comes from setting clear and consistent goals at the outset. 
To make these goals easy to comprehend and achieve, you can divide them into short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. Here are some criteria that will help you get the most out of these goals. They should be:
·      Measurable and objective
·      Specific and aligned to the team objectives
·      Realistic based on the team’s skill set 
·      Exciting enough to be inspirational
You as a trainer then must encourage your athletes to achieve these goals. This way, you will give your players a purpose and enhance their persistence. These meaningful goals and their achievement create a better trainer-athlete relationship.
Hand-over some ownership
While hierarchy is extremely important in a trainer-athlete relationship to achieve your goals and perform better, it is equally important to let your athletes share responsibility. 
They must have a role in planning their learning process and taking ownership of it. Giving the players a voice and a chance to communicate empowers them to a great extent. So, instead of blindly following what is being told to them, they learn to take charge and be responsible for their actions. 
This also shows that you trust them. Once trust is established, they will listen to you more and follow the instructions better leading to a solid trainer-athlete relationship.
Building a good relationship with your athlete takes time, patience, and effort. Showing them that you care, being open and communicative, sharing your experiences, and offering honest encouragement goes a long way in solidifying this relationship. Youth Sports Index helps you connect with world-class athletic talent in your location. You can find out and join the best sports clubs, camps, and tournaments in your area. Download the app on iOS or Google Play today to know more.
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