A coach needs both “Rapport and Respect” to build great culture, team spirit and effective development for their team. Some coaches naturally build rapport, being well liked by their team, because they are fun, a friend and just one of the gang. Without also building respect, issues of discipline, commitment and unspoken expectations can create a frustrating environment, impacting on results, culture and development in negative ways.
Some coaches naturally cultivate respect, making it clear who is in charge, what’s expected and the cost of stepping out of line. Without also building rapport they can demand, command and rebuke, punishing players for not aligning to the rules and expectations of the coach. This creates fear and intimidation, and will harm and impact culture, spirit and team development in negative ways.
PART ONE: tips for Building Rapport:
1/ be genuinely interested in the life and well being of your players. Get to know them, what they like, and what’s going on for them outside of football. When you see them, you can then ask personal questions, which highlights your intentional care for them. E.g. “Hey Johny, how did you go in that exam last week?”
2/ invite them into the conversation. Ask for their input and listen intently, regardless of their age. Create moments where you allow input from the whole team together. What are they feeing, thinking and seeing? They want to contribute and they need to know that you value their input, and point of view. Always thank them for their thoughts or ideas, and always communicate back to them later about your decisions.
3/ give players some one on one time. I use to do this regularly before a game and at training, walking with a player one on one, giving them some encouragement, or instructions about what I see them doing in the game or what I need from them today, or simply just saying thanks for giving 100% effort. When I was coaching the under 13s, the biggest feedback I got from parents and players was around this practice. In fact, 5 years later, I still get comments from parents I bump into about how this impacted their kids