The communication and interaction between coaches and athletes is sometimes excellent, sometimes not so excellent, and sometimes purely catastrophic. Everyone is mad or sad or something in between and it’s hard to focus on the main thing: getting better in your sport. 

Respect, values, and responsibility are the matters often present in these cases. Do you feel respected and appreciated? I hope you answer yes but according to my experiences, many of you are wrestling with the feeling that the “coach is not appreciating or respecting me enough”. Many coaches feel the exact same way – that they or their work is not appreciated by the athletes. 

Do you feel that you are not heard? Does your coach listen to you? 

Many athletes also feel that they are not heard. But the other side is that many coaches feel the same way – that athletes are not listening to me and nobody cares how I am truly doing. 

See that something is a little off here? To me it seems like both of the parties have similar types of problems. What could we do? Well I can’t speak to all of the cases but I came up with some ideas about the rights and responsibilities based what I have seen and encountered in my life. 

Personality in sports emails

Dear athlete or/and coach, here we go. 

So no matter which one you are, just remember that… 

You have the right to speak and to be heard. It does not mean that you are shouting off the rooftops to all directions or you start complaining that nobody listens if nobody reacts after your first whisper. Try again, try different ways, use a different channel or tone to get your message across. You cannot expect the counterpart to adjust solely to your communication style so adjust yours instead in order to get some pleasant prattle.. Instead both of you screaming from opposite sides of the lake. 

You have the right to be treated fairly and equally. However, if and when you want to be treated fairly, understand your responsibility to follow rules and standards, and be the example. This point does not work otherwise. You shouldn’t quibble after equal treating if you are the one cutting corners for your own advantage. What you preach or teach, you should be the one following it. Being equal and fair means also that you act according to your own words and treat everyone else fairly in all situations, not just when your life is rolling as amazingly and effortlessly as a new combine harvester in a fresh field.

You have the right to be respected and valued as yourself. So understand that it means that you should respect and value also other people as they are. One part of respect is trust. Trust is grown and built in the middle of the daily hassles and is comprised of little thing in the practices – if you do your job well and carefully, trust and respect will follow. Those rarely are served to you on a silver platter when the pressure hits you but they are built in the daily life and the pressure cooker situation is then more like the test of trust and respect. 

You have the right to try to reach your best and receive support in your endeavour. You also then have a responsibility to support others, ask for help, and especially accept and take in feedback when you get some. Also when it is critique. It is all hot air if you say that “yes give me advice/I want to develop/I am ready to take feedback/just critique me too” and when it happens, it gets under your skin or suddenly couple excuses and defensive talks emerge when the feedback is given. That’s not how it works. Critique is not always nice, but do you really want to develop or not? 

You have the right to do sports/coach in an environment where you don’t have to be afraid. You also have the responsibility to bring the grievances to the surface if something is happening around you that does not support an atmosphere that is safe and supports development. We tend to stay silent a little too often. And this is unfortunately common and a big challenge in the sports world, there is so much leading by fear. Don’t support that by staying silent. Raise your voice to someone, maybe outside the organization if nothing else helps. Time to drive the change 😉 

You have the right to have a life outside of sports. Remember that others can also have a life outside of sports and respect that. I have seen this sometimes when one party is not understanding the other party’s duties or wants for life. But hey, it can absolutely work also when the other one is only living and breathing sports and the other one isn’t – it is a matter that should be just discussed so there would not be misunderstandings and wrinkly foreheads/brows. Communication and agreed standards help a lot in these cases.

Talking about sports, I would also add that you have the right to win. You should be able to aim towards winning without unnecessary games within games in regards to betting, shaving points, purposely losing sets, etc. Know also your responsibility to support a winning culture, you are responsible to do your best so that you/team would succeed and win. That is the core of sports and competition. And so if someone is not letting you win, that does not sound legitimate. Communicate about this situation to someone you trust if this scenario happens. 

Those are the bullet points that came to mind, if you have other points or ideas, let me know! 🙂

Thank you for reading <3


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