Coaches Say This Is Important, But Do They Know How Important?

THIS WEEK’S BLOG -> Without This You Will Not Succeed!

READ -> Stephen Covey on trust

LISTEN -> Part One & Part Two of a podcast with Patrick Lencioni. He talks about the motives of leaders.

VERSE -> James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?

VIDEO-> What I Learned This Week– Trust

Coaches Say This Is Important, But Do They Know How Important?

If you do not or can not build trust in your program, with your staff and athletes, I don’t believe you will succeed.

I am convinced it is one ingredient (not the only one) that has to be present.

There are dysfunctional programs are all over this country. I bet if we studied all those with a certain level of dysfunction, a lack of trust would be pervasive.

When you see large numbers of athletes in the transfer portal, subpar performance, and declining recruiting, you can almost guarantee that trust is missing.

By the way… I think all programs have dysfunction. Just like families, it is unavoidable.

The dysfunction I am talking about is not your normal type but rather the type that runs deeper.

The question that we should all be asking is “How do we build and develop trust in our program?”

It all starts with the head coach. He/She sets the tone. So if there is a lack of trust, the first place to look is to the leader.

There are three things that have to be present to start the process of building trust.

If your staff and athletes do not experience strong character in you, trust will be really hard to build.

Notice I didn’t just say “If you don’t have character…”. The key is how they experience you.

I know one coach who has had trust issues in his program. Those trust issues stem from people not experiencing his character. He would say he is a man of character. The problem is, those in his program do not experience that.

Example: Dabo Swinney has been defended by his players throughout his tenure at Clemson. They have experienced his character to a level where they are willing to go on social media to defend him.

This sounds like a given but I am sure we have all been around or heard about the head coach who doesn’t know the sport well, or can’t lead.

This usually plays out in a very nuanced way. It often looks like an inability to lead, hold people accountable, make sound decisions, develop their staff and athletes or just flat out don’t know the game.

If you have character but not competence, your players will end up resenting you for not being able to help them achieve at a high level.

Example: Phil Jackson coached some of the greatest players of all time. He also had to coach, lead, and navigate some of the hardest personalities. Many coaches have not had great success with great players. It takes a great leader with a high high level of competence to lead great players.

“They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

This is such a cliche quote and absolutely true. The quickest way to erode trust is to not connect and care for your staff and athletes.

The best way for people to experience your character is by building a relationship with them. Obviously, if you have a flawed character, that will be found out. But so too will healthy character.

Example: Joe Maddon has been known to be super relational. Here is what he said to the Chicago Tribune, “Anytime you can get with your players away from the field in a more casual setting, I think the conversation has an opportunity to reach a level that you cant reach in an office.”


If your program is not healthy or as successful as you would like, start asking questions about trust. There is a good chance trust has not been built or it is eroding.

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Travis Wyckoff

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