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Player coach relationship

player coach relationship
Monday, August 6, 2012

Possibly the single most important aspect of any successful rugby team is the relationship between the player and management and the relationship between the player and the coach in particular. At the highest level it is interesting to see certain coaches get the best out of certain players and given the physical nature of the game, every player needs to have a reason to give 100%. This reason is often the coach and it is therefore the sincere player management that encourages a player to play for you as a coach.It sometimes gets dark on the field during a rugby match, and often what pulls the player through these times are the hours of personal work between coach and player.  Throughout their rugby career, each player will have their “favourite coach” or the coach that has had the most influence on them - not only as a rugby player but also as a person.  There is a lot more to rugby than simply what happens in between those four white lines, so as a coach you need to understand that the bounds of your mentorship extend beyond the whistle blowing that occurs during training.As a coach, the only way you can show a player how much they mean to you is to pick them. There is a huge honour involved in this process. Great coaches are, first and foremost, great selectors. Jake white was often criticized for picking John Smit as he was (in terms of public opinion) not the best player for his position. Despite this, Jake nurtured this relationship and always backed his captain which would have been a huge relief for a leader who is often responsible for the spirit amongst the team. Probably the two most important relationships that exist within the team environment is the relationship between the captain and the coach and the relationship between the captain and his team. Pick the wrong captain and as a coach you are dead in the water. Pick a captain who does not back you and you are already flogging a dead horse.The relationship between Richie Mccaw and Graham Henry is another example: 90% success rate when the two have been partnered in test matches. It is interesting to see that when Mccaw is not playing for New Zealand they seem to battle.  There are more than adequate flankers in New Zealand as good as Mccaw to cover should he be injured, but it is that factor of the relationships mentioned above that come in to play which turn good coaches and players into great coaches and players that win test matches. This goes to show how different rugby is as a sport and the sheer physical nature of the game means that there is so much more at play than simply picking the most skilled players and expecting the skill to win on the day.Rugby is often likened to business and sometimes war. If the CEO of a company is seen as unapproachable and unpopular, his business is often at risk.  In the same way, a general needs to have the backing and the support of his soldiers if he would like to win battles and, ultimately, the war. No matter how skilled in combat, if soldiers do not buy into the system and believe in what they are fighting for, it is a virtual impossibility to win. The relationship between the player and the coach is fundamental for a team to be successful and is a practiced skill.  Just as passing, kicking and tackling need to be practised, so too does the relationship between coach and player need to be nurtured over time to develop that special trust that can only be built through sincere mentorship, time and effort. Kevin Musikanth 

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