Behind every successful athlete is a coach that helped them along the way. Some of the greatest athletes in history reached the pinnacle of their achievements due to their mentors, who constantly encouraged them, helped them through tough times, and supported them when they most needed it. As a coach, you need to be on top your game to make sure your protégés have the best chance of success. Here, we will explore four of the best mentorship practices for the new year so that both you and your mentees are able to benefit.
1. Build a Positive Relationship
As a coach, your duties are not limited to only training sessions. Even outside of coaching hours, you have to be available for your mentees. Honesty, positivity and empathy are key to fostering a good relationship with your clients. Even though a relationship is a two-way street, it is more your responsibility to pursue a constructive and professional one. As stated in an article by Ohio University, “A strong coach-athlete relationship is important not only for the athlete’s growth as a positive, ethical and moral person, but for the team’s performance as a whole.”
If you are unsure where to start to create this relationship, then consider these simple methods. Host activities for your mentees in a casual and informal setting where they can bond with you over something other than the regular athletic routine. You could also have an open-door policy, so clients feel welcome to come talk to you should they need to. Not everyone will take advantage of this, but it does show that you are approachable and accessible — traits that will make clients feel comfortable around you.
2. Focus on Morals and Ethics
A good mentor doesn’t only focus on athletics alone but will instil a strong sense of morality and ethics amongst his clients. Consider the example of Baseball Hall of Fame legend Cal Ripken Jr. When talking about his mentor, he said “He tried to give us the value of being a good person. The value of a mentor … I don’t know what value you can place on it, but the right words spoken at the right time from a person that’s been through it before … can make all the difference in that youth game.” Being a good person is far more valuable than being a good athlete, and as a mentor, it is your job to promote ethical sportsmanship amongst your mentees.
3. Addressing Problematic Behavior
As a role model, a coach is on duty 24/7. This means living with integrity and dignity when it comes to problems that are ever increasing within the youth. For example, if a coach sees one of his mentees struggling with alcohol abuse, he should try and broach this subject in an honest and non-judgemental manner. While appropriate penalties may be put in place, a good mentor will always try and help overcome the underlying problem rather than ignore it for the sake of a win. At the same time, he himself will avoid excessive alcohol intake so as to provide a strong role model.
4. Honest Motivation
Being able to motivate your clients when they are going through a tough time is one of the key characteristics of effective mentorship. However, motivation shouldn’t be riddled with fake praise. A good coach will always motivate clients in an honest manner. Walter Thorburn, a triathlon champion shares some tips to effectively motivate mentees:
- “Creating a group excellence environment to be part of,
- Running training sessions designed to build confidence and self-belief, and
- Having a vision for each athlete that shows him or her that you care and expect a shared responsibility.”
As the new year rolls around, follow these four tips to guarantee that you, as a coach, are a strong mentor to your clients. Start 2018 on the right foot in terms of your mentoring practices, so that both you and your clients have the highest chance of success.
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