Sometimes you will have a coach that doesn’t exactly share your personal values or beliefs, and other times you will have the most ideal coach. These are both okay. Throughout your life, you will have to deal with a lot of people you do and don’t like. Learning how to navigate these tough relationships will help you well beyond high school and college athletics.
You will eventually come to find what you do and do not like in a coach. Hopefully, you did your research (on LRT Sports’ coach ratings page) and made sure that the school you committed to has a coach you like.
Even if you find a coach you love, it can still be intimidating to always want to be perfect in their eyes.
It can be scary to tell them that you’re struggling in class, struggling physically, or struggling mentally. The best advice that I can give is to throw that concern out the window. Your coach wants you to succeed, which means they want to know when you’re struggling and help in any way they can.
You need to be transparent with yourself and your coach. The only way that they can help is if they know you need it! Here are some ways to build that relationship with them:
Ask them about resources before you commit
Ask the coach on your campus visit what resources they have for athletes who are struggling academically, mentally, or physically. More importantly, ask them their philosophy on these topics – do they care or do they want you to handle your problems yourself?
Meet with your coach often
Once on the team, have a meeting with your coach early in the term/season to go over your class schedule and game plan for accomplishing your goals. Check in to let them know how you’re adjusting.
Talk to your coach even when you don’t need to
If you see your coach in the dining hall, go chat with them. If you have a break after workouts or classes, stop by their office and ask about their day/week. Get to know them, why they got into coaching, and their background in your sport. They love talking about that stuff, AND hearing about their experiences as former athletes will make them seem a lot more relatable.
As soon as you start to struggle TALK TO THEM
If your classes are too much, if you feel an injury coming on, or if you need a mental break, TELL YOUR COACH. Get ahead of the problem early. They can talk to you about your options and resources available, and might be willing to give you a day or two off from practice if they think that’s best. Most importantly, your coach has probably gone through similar challenges, just asking them how they did it will probably make you feel a lot better. Find a time when you’re both free, and schedule to meet them. Know what you want to talk about ahead of time, and be open to their suggestions.
Personally, my coach has a ton of connections and resources for my team. Keep this in mind – your coach has probably been on campus a lot longer than you have. Even if they’re new, they know all the right people to get you the resources you need.
If you’re open with them, they will also be open with you. Know your boundaries, but know that your coach cares about you. They want you to be able to perform at your highest level, and the best way to do that is to be transparent and communicative with them.