As we serve the men and women, boys and girls in sport, there is a set of people with whom it is most strategic to build relationships, trust, and confidence. They are called, “coaches.” To earn the trust and respect of sports coaches is neither easy nor quick, but it is vital to serving them and all whom they coach well.
I learned early on in my service of sports teams that having the trust of the coaching staff and each coach on it, is most important. Think about it this way, if the coach trusts me, he or she will call me about an issue with a competitor. If the coach distrusts me, he or she will tell the competitors, “Stay away from that guy, you can’t trust him,” or even worse. Further, when I earn the coach’s trust, suddenly his heart is within reach, her family can be loved and served, in fact everyone in the coach’s sphere of influence is suddenly in range of our ministry.
Below is a list of very practical and proven methods for building relationships with coaches:
· Meet them where they are – that is usually at practice and in their offices.
· Learn the best time to speak with them, face to face. That may be prior to practice starting. It may be before or after team meetings. Experiment and learn.
· Take an interest in their families. Ask about spouses, children, their interests away from sport, etc.…
· Ask questions about their coaching pilgrimage, their background in the sport, and look for points of connection with other coaches in your network.
· Ask about what gives them satisfaction, a sense of satisfaction, in their coaching.
· Ask them how you may be of service to the coach and his or her families.
· If the coach asks about finding a church in the community, share several good options, not just your own. Ask questions like, “For what kind of a church are you looking?”
· Take note of everything in his or her office. Coaches usually have items displayed which reveal what they love and respect. Notice the books on the shelves, the photos on the desk or on the wall, balls, medals, rings, certificates, ribbons, etc. that speak to their accomplishments. Choose one item and ask a question about it. Stories will follow.
· If you dare, ask this question. “Why do you coach?” Stop and listen. You may gain more insight from this question than anything else you could do.
The bottom line in all of these methods and all the relationship building is simple. For the coach to know and to trust you is the pathway to his or her heart. They are generally overwhelmed with responsibilities, they have little to no job security, they have thousands of critics, but they have almost no one who will consistently encourage, love, and support them. We get to be those trusted encouragers, if we don’t act like sports fans.
One sign that you are doing well, building relationships of trust, with coaches is if when greeting you the coach says, “Hi Coach.” For the coach to bestow the sport’s most sacred title upon you is an immediate sign that you are welcomed into their world with honor. If coaches speak of you as being, “a part of our staff,” or “an important part of the program,” you are crushing it. Please take my challenge and develop relationships with coaches as a matter of highest priority and you will find it to bear fruit that will remain.