As strength and conditioning coaches, our primary concern is to ensure that our athletes are as prepared as they can possibly be for game day. In this process it can be easy to become consumed with refining programs to improve athletic performance and/or creating injury reduction protocols. While those are our main responsibilities as strength coaches, one of the more overlooked aspects of strength and conditioning is building trust and developing relationships with your athletes.
Making that effort to develop a rapport with your athletes is vital to display to them that you are heavily invested not only in their success as an athlete, but in their livelihood off the field as well. It shows them that you seek to understand rather than to be understood. For example, do you know what your athlete sacrificed in order to be even considered to play at the collegiate level? Do you know each athlete’s why; their reason and motivation for playing this sport at the collegiate level? Do you know how they became a collegiate athlete? Conversely, do your athletes know the reason why you wanted to become a strength coach? Knowing the answer to these questions can help facilitate trust and athlete buy-in within your program, further reinforcing their belief in you. Your interactions with your athletes, whether it be words of positive praise or motivation to push their performance further will have a deeper meaning to them.
Additionally, make it a point to ask each your athletes the following, “Who is your most influential person in your life?”. Get permission to reach out to this individual and get them further involved in your athlete’s success. Securing a stake in your athlete’s life from their most influential person will greatly strengthen the system of support surrounding them. Watch below as Ron McKeefery, formerly the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Eastern Michigan University delves deeper into how this question can reinforce the positive habits, work ethic, and support with your athletes.
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