1. Respect is earned.
This past year I came into the track and field program at The University of Mount Olive in Mount Olive NC. As a new young coach, I knew one of the things I would need in order to be successful was my athletes respect and trust. They had been competing and training under a different coach and comfortable with a certain system. I understood that for them to buy in to my program the first thing I had to earn was their trust and respect. Respect can be gained in many ways, being relatable, being accomplished, listening/communication, and, if they have questions, being able to explain things in a way they can understand. The main things I chose to focus on were communication and giving proper explanation of my background and training program. Kids/athletes want to be able to trust the person they are training under. By being able to listen to athletes concerns and goals you are building a very important base for your coach athlete relationship. You are showing the athlete respect by listening to them and showing them, they have a voice that you will listen to and care about their goals.
2. Communication is key.
The next thing some coaches tend to do is not listen to their athletes when it comes to their training. I’ve spoken with many coaches who have met with athletes and say things like, “I have my system and that’s that. You can’t dictate anything until you’ve trained under me for a couple years.” I understand this to an extent that the athlete is not going to oversee the program but sometimes the athlete really does have valuable input, especially once they have a few competitions under their belt or even a few months of training. Being able to take “constructive criticism” or suggestions from your athletes can help you build a program that is even better than the blueprint you had laid out at the beginning of the year, and also athlete friendly. It takes time, especially when coming into a new program, to learn what benefits each athlete. They know their bodies better than you in some cases so being able to communicate openly is crucial to respect and trust.
3. Athletes don’t care about how much you know they want to be coached well.
Now when it comes to your athletes and explaining your methods and approach some coaches get caught using big scientific words and comparing their program/methods with those of other schools for their athletes. Most of the time they do this in hopes of convincing athletes that they as coaches know what they’re doing and can be trusted. On the college level, this is not a good idea. Athletes don’t care about what other programs are doing because they’re in your program. For the most part they chose you for a reason. Can you help them succeed? Can you help them improve? Can you apply your knowledge? Unless an athlete comes asking for the scientific reasoning behind certain workouts or drills there is no reason to flex your knowledge for them. Keep it simple and coach!
About the Author
Clayton Parros, USA Track
Clayton Parros was born in Los Angeles California, and raised in New Jersey. As a part of The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Track and field Program he was named ACC Champion 5 times, All-ACC 11 times, and was also an all American. Post Collegiately he achieved World Champion status as a part of the team USA 4x400m relay, Penn relays Champion, IAAF World Relay Champion, NACAC 4x400m Champion and USA Indoor 300m Runner up. Clayton is USATF Coaching Certified and has studied and trained under world-class coaches namely Derrick White (coach of Joanna Atkins and Quinera Hayes), Lance Brauman (coach of Tyson Gay, Marvin Bracy, Tori Bowie, Shaunae Miller and many others). He also studied strength and conditioning under Andre Woodert (former strength and conditioning coach of Allyson Felix). Currently he is in his first year of coaching at East Carolina University and is involved with the Sprints and Hurdles.