In today’s post I want to talk about how to gain the players trust and keep that trust throughout the season. We all know that a player will play much harder for you if he trusts you as a coach.
The players have to see that the coach is the most committed person associated with the team. You need to be at the rink early so when the players show up they see that you are already there preparing for the game. When a coach tells his players to be at the rink an hour before game time but he doesn’t show up until 30 minutes before the game that shows a lack of commitment to the players. Some coaches may feel that the players know what the pre-game ritual is and they don’t need to be there but I disagree. I believe that the head coach needs to be there when the players arrive.
Players want the coach to be organized, so make sure you have a plan for every game. It can be simple or complex but show the players that you have a plan. One thing I like to do is have the forward and defensive line pairing up on the wall when the team arrives. This gives the players a chance to think about their role in the upcoming game. If you have ideas about strategy or systems that you want to get them thinking about it’s good to use the backside of the coach’s board to write down a few items that you want the team to think about.
Try to keep meetings after the game to a minimum. Too often the coach’s anger can come out after a game and you may say something that doesn’t really help the team, so keep the post game talk short and simple and focus on the bad stuff before the next practice when everyone has had a little time to think about the game.
Players want a coach who is very competitive, so make sure they know how important winning is to you and that you will do your very best to help the team win. Some coaches are afraid to sit the fourth line late in games because they don’t want to deal with parents, but as the coach you have to make the hard decisions and if you do you will earn the trust of the team because they know you are working just as hard as they are to win games.
The way you present yourself goes a long way in building trust with your players as well. I’m the type of coach that wears a tie and blazer while on the bench. Some coaches will wear a nice pair of khaki pants and a team jacket. There is no best way to dress but keep in mind that the players will judge you by how you present yourself to the team.
Another very important factor in gaining the trust of the players is to not break your promises to them. Whatever it is that you have promised it is up to you to hold that promise. Don’t tell a player that is obviously a fourth line player that he can work his way to the first line. Don’t tell a player that doesn’t skate that well that he will be a penalty killer. Let each player know their role on the team and work hard to help them improve but don’t promise things that you won’t follow through on.
Players hate when a coach is constantly changing systems on them, it makes them feel that they don’t have your confidence. Give them a chance to work on the system in question for some time before you start changing it. If the power play you want to run isn’t going right, take the time in practice to go over it in more detail and make sure each of your players understand what you expect. I can guarantee you that if you change the power play or forecheck each week the players will feel like you don’t trust them to run your systems.
One last thing. These new generation players need more immediate feedback then in the past. They live in the Twitter world and are used to getting information all the time. Make sure you take the time at practice or outside the locker room after practice to get some time with each player as often as possible to give feedback on their game.
Those are just some of my thoughts on how to build trust with your players and in turn have a more successful season on and off the ice.