13 Ways To Make A Good Impression on Your Coach
By guest contributor Ben Edwards
Every coach you have will be different in terms of what they look for in a player and how they want you to play on the field but there are some things that most coaches notice and value.
Importance of a First Impression
When your coach forms an impression of you they create assumptions about you as a player. That can be good if you leave a positive impression, but it can be hard to dig out of a bad first impression.
If your coach has a positive impression of you as a player they’re more likely to give you the benefit of doubt in times when you’re struggling. If you’re making a lot of mistakes they might say to themselves, “that’s not like her”. On the other hand, if they have negative assumptions about you as a player and you make mistakes then those only reinforce their impression. It’s just a lot easier to get and stay on your coach’s good side when you get off to a great start.
Coaches are excited to invest in players who they think want to get better so your coach’s mental picture of you is important. If a coach has an impression of you as a “serious” player they’ll be more serious about helping you get better.
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Pay attention to these details and it can help you no matter which team you end up on or who your coach is next season.
Be on time or even early to training sessions and games. Give yourself time to settle in and get your head ready for the session. Everyone is late sometimes but if you’re always early, or always late, the coach will notice.
2-Take Short Breaks
Be the first one back on the field after a water break. This one is helpful for several reasons. It shows the coach you take training seriously. Your focus is on the session and not on socializing. Coaches always have a lot they want to cover and never enough time, the sooner you get back the faster they can move on and they notice which kids are always the last few straggling back to the field.
Study any information the coach sends to you. Whether it’s team formations, game footage, tactics, club values, etc. it’s important to come ready to discuss at the next practice.
When your coach asks the team a question, answer it. More and more coaches are using a method called guided discovery to help players learn by thinking for themselves. When they ask a question, they’re trying to help you problem solve in your head and understand why the things they’re teaching you are important. A vital part of that process is the player answering the questions they ask.
Usually, if you ask questions it’s a sign that you’re paying attention to what they’re teaching you and that you’re trying to understand how to apply it.
6-Make Eye Contact
When the coach is talking to you or the team making eye contact is a sign that you’re probably paying attention.
7-Use What They Teach
Try and use the techniques or tactics the coach is teaching at that practice or they went over during the week. You might not get it just right, but many coaches would rather have you try the new technique and come up short rather than sticking with what’s safe – as long as you learn from your mistakes over time. It might not always be obvious why they want you to learn it but with a good coach, there’s a reason behind it.
This should go without saying but play your hardest at training and games. It’s worth repeating because hustle is relative. If you’re working hard but all your teammates are working harder, then they’re the ones your coach will notice.
Show respect not only to your coach but also to your teammates, parents, opponents, and refs. There are many small ways you can do this. Like telling your coach thank you after training. Not interrupting your coach/assistant coach while they’re talking. Resisting the urge to argue every call with the ref.
10-Be a Leader
There are multiple ways to show leadership and set a good example. Be positive with your teammates. Offer suggestions or feedback if they’re struggling, confused, or frustrated. Be the teammate you’d like to have on your side when things aren’t going right.
11-Watch the Sport
Coaches want players who play smart. If they know you’re in the habit of watching the game played at a higher level, then you’re more likely to understand the concepts they introduce. You’re more likely to understand more of the nuance and intricacies of the game. How will they know you watch? When you get to practice early or are the first one back from water break ask them if they caught the game.
Doing these things only at the first practice won’t be enough to make a lasting impression. After they see these traits during the first few weeks of the season their impression of you will start to solidify. They have a whole team of players they’re watching so they may not notice all the things you’re doing right away. Just make these things a habit and as the season goes on they’ll form an opinion of you in their mind.
Notice none of these tips refer to your skills on the field but part of making an impression is having the confidence to show your coach your skills. When they ask for someone to demonstrate a move, raise your hand. Have the confidence to try the new things they’ve taught you at training.
How to Handle Bad Impressions?
Everyone has bad days occasionally and if you happen to have one the first training session you might not make the best first impression. If you feel like you and your coach got off on the wrong foot what can you do to fix it?
Start by doing all the things we just went over. Even if they did you can start changing their mind by taking regular, small actions.
Make sure to listen to your coach’s comments during training. They can be clues to their impression of you. Pay attention to how they interact and talk about other players who seem to be making a good impression.
If you feel uncertain about how you’re fitting into the team or meshing with the coach you can always start by asking the opinion of your assistant coach. They may feel a little more approachable to you and could offer some insight.
You can also set up a meeting with your coach. Just asking them after training might work but they may be distracted and have other players/parents approaching them with questions. You could try scheduling something ahead of time, so they know to make time to chat with you. You can simply ask them an open-ended question about what areas you need to work on.
Ben Edwards is a soccer dad, coach, and fan who’s been in love with the game his whole life and now shares tips, stories, and innovative products for youth soccer families at Soccer Stripes. Check out their guide to choosing a soccer club.