Sean Van Staden
Columnist
3 minute read
6 Jul 2014
8:00 am

Four steps to help you succeed as a coach

Sean Van Staden

I could have started this off with the traits of a great coach, but that would imply you have made it as a coach and you are already adored by your team, your fans and loved ones.

Sean van Staden

If this is the case, turn the page because this article is not for you.

I consider coaches like doctors. Players put so much faith in coaches and often just nod and agree to any prescription their coaches write out. Whether it be right or wrong, you seldom question or really feel you have a choice in the matter.

Here are four important traits you need to be a better coach.

Coaches should have a love for the game. The best way to describe what a coach’s passion for the game should be, cannot be expressed better than by William Shakespeare. ” Hear my soul speak: The very instant that I saw you, did my heart fly to your service.”

Without passion and love for the game, you will miss opportunities the game has to offer because of a lack of attention to fine detail. Great coaches are often very passionate and dramatic people who often wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Without having a love and passion for the game, your players will see right through your motives and respond adversely accordingly.

Coaches should be great communicators. Coaches need not have a degree in English to be considered great communicators.

Coaches need to be able to capture the attention of their players, simplify instructions and motivate them to take action.

There is a fantastic book all coaches should buy called The 5 Languages of Love by Gary D Chapman. It is a powerful book that explains that if you want to communicate effectively, build trust and keep your players’ energy levels high, then you need to assess what the best way is to communicate with each of them.

The book is really about love and relationships, but for your players, the principle of getting the best out of your partner remains the same. Chapman explains that everyone possesses this tank of fuel. If you keep filling up the tank with the right fuel, your car will keep going and bring you tons of mileage and happiness.

If you forget to fill up or fill up with the wrong fuel, there will be all sorts of problems headed your way. In Chapman’s book he explains that there are five languages people respond to – words of affirmation; acts of service; receiving gifts; quality time and physical touch.

Each player needs to be considered an individual and no two players are alike. Therefore, coaches cannot communicate effectively by only communicating in one way. Great coaches know that some players need constant reassurance that they are doing a good job, while other players respond best to great leadership.

Coaches must be good listeners. Coaches tend to develop the bad habits of dictatorship. The coach speaks, everyone shuts up and players must just perform.

In the real world, coaches need to be good listeners and address the concerns players might have. Coaches don’t have to respond to everything but the fact that a player can have an open, trusted and respectful conversation with his or her coach, is priceless in building trust and a great team.

Coaches must be open to learning. Just because you have your position, you need to understand this is not a position of power with one way views and opinions. Be open to learning from your environment and be a student of learning.

The minute you decide you know everything is the day you need to retire gracefully on a high, because then you have achieved what few – if any – have achieved.

If there is one thing I have learnt over the years, it is, the more I learn, the more humble I become because you soon realise how little in fact you know in the grander scale of things.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @SeanVStaden or have your say on my blog advancedsp.co.za