Earning Your Players’ Respect
By Anthony Lanzillo on Dec 23, 2016

certstoryRecently, I was listening to a sports radio show talk about how football coaches gain the respect of their players. Got me thinking about what those of us who do coach, especially at the youth and high school levels, can do to earn the players’ respect. A coach can embrace several principles with every encounter and interaction that he may have with one or all of his players. These principles are pivotal to the coach’s success in enlisting the players’ attention, engaging their active participation and entrusting them to always become more motivated and enthusiastic about the “sports experience”.

Principle 1: The Players Come First

The coach should make it clear to the players, and to himself, that the players come first. The coach is there to serve them and to guide them to become better players on the field, and better people off the field. The players need to see that every choice or decision that the coach makes is for the benefit of each player and the entire team. That he is simply trying to choose what is in the best interests of the team and its players.

Principle 2: Each Player Has Strengths

The coach should use this sports experience to help each player identify his personal strengths and qualities, and how they can be used to help that player grow as an athlete and competitor as well as making a significant contribution to the overall welfare and success of the team. The coach must be careful not to pour all his attention and praise on the star player, and forget the other players. He can acknowledge and celebrate all the different contributions that every player makes to the team – whether it be his enthusiasm, mentoring, commitment to practice, intensity, desire to learn, or being a great role player. Each player is to be recognized for being an important part of the team’s development and success. The message is that no team can win with just one or two players – every player on team is needed to grow and succeed.

Principle 3: Every Player Has Potential

The coach should challenge each player to develop a bigger and more empowering perspective of himself. You want this player to see and believe in his potential to continue growing and developing as an athlete. It’s all about elevating the player’s expectations of himself and to encourage him to look for every opportunity where he can learn something new to become a better player. You will help this player ask positive, productive and proactive questions that can inspire and motivate him to play his best game.

Principle 4: Sports Can Empower A Player’s Personal Life

The coach should help each player look at the sports experience as more than simply winning or losing games. The players will learn to measure their growth and success as an athlete not only by what happens on the field but also how they can use what they have learned in sports to lead a more fulfilling and successful personal life. They will learn how to set and reach their goals, build a strong belief system, visualize success, and effectively overcome the challenging and difficult moments that they will face in the future.

Anthony Lanzillo is a regular contributor to the FirstDown PlayBook Community site and also has created a mental preparation tool for athletes called The Mental Tune-Up. It is a great tool and resource for getting your players to make a commitment to becoming mentally stronger and tougher. If you would like more information on this tool, drop Anthony an email at risson1954@gmail. He has designed this process for 30, 60 or 90 days.