I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach great players. Some of these players may be in the Hall of Fame someday. Some of these players I’ve worked with were very young in the league with incredible talent, but limited professional experience. Others I have had in their primes, as well as others winding down their career.
A natural thought when you have the chance to work with a great player who has already had success is that you must make an impression and gain respect and credibility. Most coaches might think you must teach him something he doesn’t know or present a technique or tactic he has never used. That approach can be frustrating not only for the coach, but the player as well.
There will be a time when the player is more receptive to something new than others. When you are starting to develop a healthy coach-player relationship is not the time. Great players have already had success and will resist new ideas and techniques from a new coach they have not yet learned to trust.
A coach or competitor of any kind who wants to improve on the necessary components to grow should study those who are having the greatest success. If you will use that theory, you may someday work with one of those great players you have already studied.
My own philosophy on coaching and teaching a great player is to first learn as much about them as possible well before I would ever start developing a coach-player dialogue. Most importantly, I would study what makes them great — from competitiveness to techniques, tactics, and scheme.
My initial approach with the players is to learn, coach and reinforce these things the player already does as well as or better than anyone else.
A gifted player doesn’t even realize what they do because they need no conscious thought to do it. It happens naturally.
By using this method, you are reinforcing the most effective techniques which are producing the best results. In this process, you are also building trust.
As the player’s trust grows and his performance continues to improve even if by a small degree, that’s when you can comfortably introduce them to a new technique or approach to attain even greater heights.
To learn more on how to get a top performers to be better team players view my course on leadership.