There is a large emphasis on winning at the high school and club levels, but arguably the top priority for coaches is to develop their players and help them continue their careers at the highest level possible. However, it is not always abundantly clear as to how coaches can best promote their players. Before they can help players get to the next level, coaches need to know their athletes.
This means developing a deeper connection that extends beyond the field of play. Coaches need to understand what his or her needs and desires are. In some circumstances, this might mean building a connection with their family as well. Without knowing what interests, they have or what type of person they are it is very difficult to project where they may best fit in the future.
Something we constantly hear in professional sports that also applies to high school and college athletics is that they are more than just athletes. Coaches need to know their athletes on and off the field.
What Coaches Need to know about athletes
They have friends and family that might be scattered around the country or grouped together in one location. Do they have other activities they like to participate in when they are not practicing or playing games. The athlete might enjoy the outdoors or hiking. Knowing this and helping them get to a school where they can continue to experience what is important to them can be very important in the grand scheme of player success and happiness.
Even more blatantly obvious, they are student-athletes. By knowing athletes’ interests and academics, coaches can understand which institutions best fit.
Once a coach gains this understanding, he or she can help in a much more beneficial manner. High school coaches ensure that the most accurate image of the athlete is being conveyed to scouts. They can highlight their strengths on the field, their presence in the locker room and their abilities in the classroom.
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Coaches need to have transparency
Coaches should also be upfront about what their players need to improve upon. This will help the colleges as they shape their rosters and work to maximize the potential of their student-athletes. Transparency will also result in increased trust for coaches among college recruiters and scouts. In addition, teaching the importance of honesty and transparency to players is vital. It can help them identify their most suitable options for college. It can assist in injury prevention by encouraging players to speak up when they are feeling less than 100 percent. And it can make for a more unified locker room by building trust and comradery among teammates.
An honest, upfront approach when evaluating and discussing athletes can also help some late bloomers get an opportunity. Being able to describe an athlete’s journey accurately, perhaps by noting that their on-field performance improved late in their high school career thanks in part to their continued dedication and effort, can make them a much more appealing prospect due to their potential upside. But this only works if the high school coach or program has a track record of being honest and straightforward. Colleges hesitate to take a chance on a deserving student-athlete if the high school coach is known for being deceptive.
At the end of the day, it comes down to coaches supporting their players and helping them put their best foot forward to get to the next level. By practicing interview questions with players and informing them of colleges, coaches provide support for their players. It’s all part of the process and the responsibilities of a coach. It’s not easy and it takes practice, but it’s critical and it will help improve the lives of many student-athletes to come.