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By RSL-AZ, 04/27/20, 10:15AM MST


A truly honest coach/player relationship is one of the most important things for player development.

Trust is built on honesty, and as a coach, if you're going to ask your players to go to war for you they'll go the extra mile if they truly trust you. The same for players. The more players can trust their teammates they'll work better together. It sounds simple but being honest is hard to do correctly. You first have to be honest with yourself. Herein lies the challenges for players and coaches.

Players are not motivated by a coach telling them they are doing great when they are not. False confidence might help short term but at the heart of it deep down players know their weaknesses and when they're not playing well. The key is getting players to be ok with their weaknesses so they can focus on improvement and still have confidence in their own strengths.

It's hard to hear that you're not perfect or you are not playing well but to teach and learn you have to deal with what needs to be addressed.

The key to a coach/player relationship or player/player relationship is how the message is delivered. Not every player is the same. Treat every player the same but different. To do that you truly have to understand and invest time in them as a person, not only as a player.

Get to know each other and build trust with each other. When you have trust you can be pointed with your critiquing and compassionate with your message. Once you understand and know your players you know what buttons to push and what motivates them.

Players have to believe in each other before they can truly come together as a team. If coaches can work with players in a constructive and positive way we can accomplish more together then alone. Through honesty, you can build trust as long as hope is not lost. If a player doesn't feel a coach believes in them it can negatively affect their motivation and performance. A feeling of hopelessness is maybe the hardest thing to overcome. While being honest a person has to know that you still believe in them and that you're always there to support them.

Honesty is when you speak the truth and act truthfully. Many children think honesty means you "don't tell a lie"-- and that is definitely part of being honest. But honesty means more than not lying. A more complete definition of honesty shows that an honest person doesn't do things that are morally wrong.

Moral correctness, uprightness, honorableness, honor, integrity, morals, morality, ethics, principle, etc. can be modeled. Complimenting players when they perform well and team spirit can reinforce positive good behavior and build trust between players. I can pick out at most training examples of players who by their actions or their words are helping build the team chemistry and a feeling of honesty and respect. 

Building our club culture through honestly has to be at the heart of everything. If everyone one of our families and coaches used these 12 tips to raise and develop kids to be truthful imagine what kind of teams we could produce:

Model honesty
Don't set them up
Tell positive stories
Ask for a promise
Say truth-telling makes you happy
Teach tact
Don't reward the lie
Catch them being honest
Discipline calmly
Have a conversation, not a lecture
Set clear rules
Give them space

I was given advice from one of my former club assistant directors when I moved here 12 years ago "that I shouldn't be so honest about everything". It made me think and realize that although we must be honest we don't need to share all of our thoughts and we need to think before we speak. I've found now that I can be honest in difficult discussions but have learned to balance what I'm saying.

How do I tell my wife I don't like her shoes?
I really like your shoes.
It's not my favorite color.
But they look great on you.


Why do we value honesty?

We believe that openness and honesty make for the best relationships because it leads to trust and faith. It's important to always act with integrity in your relationships, to be compassionate, friendly, loyal; to make sure that you do the right thing and treat your relationships well.

After coaching soccer for over 40 years what I've come to truly understand that the relationship I have with a player is the most important thing. If a player trusts that I believe in them they’ll never lose hope and will keep working to improve.


RSL AZ South
Director of Coaching