Emotionalism—ups and downs in moods, displays of temper-ament—is almost always counterproductive, and at times disastrous. I came to understand that if my own behaviour was filled with emotionalism, I was sanctioning it for others. As the leader, my behaviour set the bounds of acceptability. And letting emotions spill over onto the court was simply unacceptable. The impact my example had on those under my leadership was another compelling reason to become vigilant in controlling my feelings and behaviour. The message I sent to the team was simple: “If you let your emotions take over, you’ll be outplayed.”
Both rapport and respect are critical to the morale, discipline and development of any team. There are two extremes of coaches, the mate and the master. One has great rapport, and is everyone’s best friend, and the other demands great respect, and everyone is scared of them. To be an effective coach with young people, you need to develop both in balance, and this can create some tension.
To be respected you must also be respectful. Demanding respect, without earning it, just doesn’t cut it unless you’re a world leader in coaching, with an impeccable reputation. Being the team’s best friend doesn’t always work that well either, particularly if you need to bring some discipline to the team.
Leaning to lead and develop as a coach means building great rapport with your team, and great respect. Here are the top 5 things kids have said they want from a coach, and I believe these build both rapport and respect: 1/ Encouragement 2/ Positive role model 3/ Clear consistent communication (and expectations) 4/ Knowledge of the sport 5/ Someone who listens.
Remember, the number one reason kids stop playing sport is because it’s no longer FUN. Don’t expect to be respected if you don’t show respect. Respect is earned: it takes time to build respect in a team environment, but only moments to lose it. You’re the adult here, and we need to lead as adults.