Everyone loves results. The wins. The points. The championships. The goals. Positive results are fun, fulfilling, energising and rewarding. We don’t train to fail and we certainly don’t ever train to lose. Teams work hard to get results, and results matter. In my work with youth sports teams, I am passionate about leading coaches into a transformational relationship mindset. Empowering coaches to prioritise and focus on relationships before results. As I said, results matter, but the relationships we develop, nurture and engage in, matter more. In fact, if we don’t foster great relationships, our results will often suffer. The challenge for coaches, particularly in youth sports, is to not let the pressure of clubs, parents and their own sense of achievement, distract them from the importance of relationships. This is a mindset that we need to develop, not a box we simply need to tick along the way.
I believe that every coach needs to develop a relationship mindset, where the quality of their relationships are invested into at every level.
The relationship mindset is a way of thinking that impacts the actions, behaviour and priorities of the coach. So with a relationship mindset, a coach sees the person before he sees the player. They are interested in the person, not simply what that person can do on the pitch. They are focused on developing great people; resilient, consistent, passionate, committed, empowered and growing.
Dr. Martin Toms, a Sport Sociologist and Ethnographer from the university of Birmingham in the UK says “You Coach a Child (or young person), not a Sport.”
Observing some coaches, I have noticed that they speak and behave as though they are coaching adults, when they are coaching an under 8 side. This is why the relationship mindset in coaching is so important, because it shifts our focus from the game to the group, from the performance to the person, from the sport to the child, from the coach to the coached, and from the result to the relationship. It’s the difference between a underdeveloped coach and a mature coach.
We, as coaches, need to be proactive in developing a relationship mindset. Rarely does it happen accidentally, it happens intentionally. Focus on the person. Get to know the individual. Understand their circumstances, their environment, their strengths, their personality, their likes and dislikes, their journeys etc.