If you are not a “player’s coach,” then who are you coaching?
I believe it is the coach’s responsibility to create an environment that is positive and committed to the development of each individual on the team. Like a rising tide lifts all boats, if we help a player make improvements in their physical, psychological, technical, or tactical areas of their game then our entire team will have a better chance to perform closer to our optimal level.
In a players first environment there needs to be a commitment to creating connections between players and coaches and also to the higher purpose of the organization. Being empowered to have some autonomy over your development and ownership of the direction of the program is essential and players need to feel they have the ability to improve, that change can occur. It requires a growth mindset and a safe community where you can take chances and fail.
The interesting thing is that the more you put the interests of your people first, the more demanding you can be. They know you are coming from a place of respect and love. In short, they trust you. Being a “player’s coach” is not soft. It’s appropriate. It means you support AND hold accountable.
In the video below you can learn about the environment we are working hard to create with Curry College Hockey. There are some revealing sound bites from the players about how it feels to be in a players first environment.