With the start of the season just around the corner, Jessie Ivey, assistant coach at Bowling Green State University, shares how she approaches building strong player relationships with her student-athletes — inspired by the words of former president Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.
Ivey believes an essential to coaching is in building relationships through investment. If you want to invest in your players, you must let them invest in you. Investment, she says, has four fundamentals:
Players want to know about your life, your family, your experiences and what makes you, you. Being open and honest with them is crucial to building your relationship and establishing the trust that is necessary for your teams’ success. Trust on the court begins with trust off it, and they know when you’re not honest with them.
Give players your most valuable resource — your time. They need to know you care, and the best way to show you care is being available to them.
Have big eyes, big ears and a small mouth — meaning, listen and watch your players, notice if they’re having an off day, and check on them. I found that a full stocked candy jar on your desk makes everyone more apt to stop in to talk.
Being comfortable in your own skin around your student-athletes allows them to play the game they love freely, without outside insecurities. Players need strong, positive role models who are proud of who they are, even if you do not fit the status quo of normal.
Be the celebration.
Celebrate your kids in every aspect of life, not just basketball. Revel in their accomplishments and help them through the trials and tribulations of becoming a young adult, while being a collegiate athlete. Life is tough; we all need someone cheering us on.
About the author: In 2015-16, Jessica (Jessie) Ivey was named WBCA NCAA Division II Assistant Coach of the Year. She also was recognized as one of the WBCA’s inaugural Thirty Under 30 presented by Marriott Rewards.