Do your athletes trust you?


Trust – It’s Not A Coach’s Right

It’s easy to think that an athlete’s trust is your right. But it’s not. It must be earned.

Please let me explain.

Trust is: “…the willingness to make yourself vulnerable to another person based on the expectation that they will always have your back, irrespective of your ability to control their actions”. 

Trust is an essential part of every athlete-coach relationship. Unfortunately, its significance is often overlooked. When trust is poorly understood, or executed, it leads to a breakdown in communication when it really matters.

How many coaches simply assume their athletes trust them?

Here’s an example.

Consider a young netballer. She’s at the top of her game and a key member of her team. But 6 weeks out from school nationals she rolls over on her ankle and strains a major ligament.

This young athlete will need her coach to help her on the road to recovery. Trusting the coach will be a crucial part of that process.

The Four Pieces Of The Trust Pie

Trust is made up of 4 components:

1) Competence – the belief in a person that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to help you accomplish a valued task or goal.

2) Integrity – knowing that someone is always honest and acts in accordance with principles or a ‘code of honour’.

3) Compassion – feeling motivated by genuine care and concern.

4) Predictability – the belief that another’s reactions and behaviours can be reliably anticipated.

It’s only when you hold these 4 key beliefs about someone else that you will be fully trusting of them.

Dealing with Injury

Let’s take a look at our injured netballer in more detail.

No player likes sitting on the side-line. It’s incredibly frustrating when all your hard work at training is compromised by injury, particularly at crucial times of the season.

What’s more, the feeling that you’re going backwards while everybody else on the team continues to progress is hugely challenging for a young player to deal with and can severely knock their confidence.

So, why is trust between player and coach so important when injury occurs?

Competence. The player must have confidence in her coach’s ability to guide her through the rehabilitation process effectively.

“How should I manage the injury accurately?” “Should I seek physio treatment straight away?” “Do I need to see a sports doctor? When can I start playing again?”

These are just some of the questions the injured netballer will be asking her coach.

Integrity. The player will quickly want to know where she stands.

What does this injury mean for me?” “Will I get back in time for the tournament and can I still contribute to the team if I don’t?”

The coach’s responses must be well informed and honest.

Compassion. The player must believe that, throughout the rehabilitation process, her coach has her best interests at heart.

Predictability. Navigating the injury will be an uncertain, frustrating and possibly scary process for her. However, it’ll be made much easier if she knows for certain that she’ll have her coach’s full support.

This is just one example when trust impacts the development of a young athlete considerably, it is one of the most important elements between two people when it comes to building successful relationships.

What are you doing to earn (and preserve) the trust of your athletes? It’s all about developing and maintaining a relationship with your athletes.