If you are currently coaching a sports team such as a basketball or baseball team, you may underestimate the importance of trust in any team sports. Because you are the coach, it is critically important that your team trusts you so that they can react appropriately to the instructions that you are giving them and they can then begin to realize their full potential as athletes.

Trust begins even before your players get on your team. Truly great coaches have established reputations for trustworthiness that have taken them years to establish. It comes from guiding young players wisely and helping older players navigate the tricky subjects of balancing game and life. As the coach develops a reputation for being trustworthy, a higher caliber of player will be attracted to the team and the team will improve overall.

When you think about your position as coach, what do you see? Many coaches, especially ones who are new to the position, may not understand that their position is about more than just running drills, overseeing game play and choosing team rosters. If you are in a level where play is exceptionally competitive, you will be spending a lot of time with your players during practices, games and team meetings. Your players will often come to look on you as a surrogate parent. This is especially true if your team travels between different cities to compete in individual games, as well as tournaments and championships.

Because of this trust, you need to remember that you will have a lot of control over your players and so you must use this wisely. You may be tempted to use this trust to push your athletes harder and ask for more than they are able to give but this can ultimately backfire as your players burn out and this will end up weakening your team. Because of this, it is important to balance the needs of your players with the needs of the team as a whole.

Another thing that you cannot underestimate is the importance of trust between team members and this is something that you as the coach can help to build. Players need to see each other as being valuable to the team as a whole and able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of individual players. As they begin to trust each other, they will work more cohesively as a unit and this will result in a higher level of wins for your team. You will end up seeing that your players will be able to read each others’ actions more accurately and this can help you dominate the court or field far more than you can believe.

Because players will often spend a large amount of time together, it is important that they learn to trust and confide in one another. Often, people who are outside the team may not understand the pressures your players feel and the challenges that they face. Internal trust can make them feel like they have a safe and constructive place to go when those pressures begin to build up. And a stronger and mentally healthier team is truly the secret to victory.

How important is trust to you and your players?

Picture credit: Duchamp Creative Commons Attribution