How Well Do You Know Your Students and Athletes? (Part 1)

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Building Trust and Rapport With Your Students and Athletes

I attended the Learning and the Brain conference in Boston last weekend, and came away with a lot of ideas. Also, I am currently reading Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In by Bret Bartholomew (great read so far!). A common theme from both of these learning experiences is developing ways to relate to your students and athletes. The more that you can build trust and rapport with them, the more successful you will be in creating a positive environment and understanding where they are.

So that got me inspired to write this post.

Full disclosure, if you click on the links in this blog to either of the two books mentioned and buy, I might receive a small portion of the purchase which will ultimately help me fund keeping this site going…It’s certainly not required but I wanted to be upfront.

In the next three posts, (this is the first one of the series) I am going to suggest some ideas that you can use to help build relationships with your students and athletes so that you have a better chance of relating with them and meeting them where they are.

Introducing The Get To Know Your Class/Team Spreadsheet

The idea behind this came from Mark Barnes author of Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School (Hack Learning Series) (Volume 1) and Bret Bartholomew. It’s a good idea to follow them on Twitter because their feeds are full of good ideas that apply to education and athletics.

>> View and Download a Sample Spreadsheet Here  << 

Choose File >> Download As – to get an editable copy you can customize for yourself.

The basic idea behind this strategy is to build a spreadsheet of information on every student in your classroom or team. I have created an example spreadsheet which you are more than welcome to download and edit/copy to meet your needs (see link above). You can go about this in two ways.

i) You can ask the students/athletes to fill out the relevant information and then you will have a complete list in a swift, efficient manner.

ii) A more effective way of building your database would be to try to talk to each of your students/athlete one by one over a period (say two to three weeks) and engage them in conversations about each of the things on the spreadsheet. It’s important to make this more of casual approach and not them know what you are doing. Once you have a piece of information because of your conversation, make a mental note and fill out the spreadsheet later on.

By the time you have collected all of the information from all of the kids, you will have a better idea of who they are which you can use as a foundation for your relationship with them. You also have the opportunity to use this information to relate your coaching to them individually. For example, if you know what a student’s favorite drink is you can use that to help engage them when you are teaching technique (for rowing I’m thinking of reaching for a glass, which naturally contains their favorite drink) to explain straightening the arms early in the recovery. Ok, not the greatest example, but you get the idea.

In conclusion, this is a fun exercise and also one that will pay off dividends as you progress through the academic year or season.

In the next post, I will suggest an app that is free to use to help you and your athletes to understand their personality strengths and development areas.

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Until next time!

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