Most players during the course of their career are going to be playing for or working with more than one coach at a time. It might be your school ball coach and your travel ball coach, or it might be one of your team coaches and your hitting or pitching coach. But you are going to have to navigate the challenges of having more than one voice speaking to you about your games at the same time.
Coaches, you need to be aware that most of your players are hearing from other “experts” while you’re coaching them. What you think of these other coaches isn’t the point or, honestly, even very important. The fact that the player you’re coaching thinks the other person is important is all that matters.
Here are some things that will allow you to be successful working with your players who are working with more than one coach at a time.
1. Don’t try to change their swing. You can make suggestions, you can offer ideas but you can’t make sweeping changes, with any level of success, when you only get to see them for a limited amount of time.
2. Don’t force a player to choose between coaches. Your way isn’t the only way. If you force her to do things your way, she is going to spend more time thinking about what you want than she will be spending on hitting.
3. Offer help by asking questions and making suggestions. If you know what she’s working on with her other coaches you can supplement that effort rather than tear it down.
4. Get used to using the word “try” versus the word “do.” When you say “do this” it has a level of pressure that is often counterproductive. Trying something is a low pressure way to offer advice without creating an ultimatum that often forces the player to choose between coaches and their philosophies.
5. Focus on what you do well rather than trying to outdo their other coach. it really isn’t a competition between you and her other coach. It is a competition to see how much you can help each player with what you know best.
6. Be yourself. If you try to be the anti-coach to what they are hearing from their other coach you are heading for trouble. You also can’t try to be a better version of what the other coach is already. Either way, your players will see through it and doubt your sincerity.
7. If you think that making her other coach look bad, or doesn’t know something, will make you look like a better coach you are probably not a very good coach yourself. If you are so insecure, then you might want to reevaluate your own efforts. A great coach is willing to compliment other coaches, or at least follow the “Golden Rule” of if you have nothing nice to say…
Develop a relationship with your players and they will trust you and your input. Building that relationship will emphasize your contribution to their overall growth as a player. Players only care about how much you know when they know you care. That means you can’t care about who gets the credit!