People ask me all the time what we’re doing at Chattahoochee Valley that allows us to be successful year in, year out. The first thing that comes to mind, and it’s really simple when you think about it, is that we recruit good ballplayers. It sounds cliché or overly simple, I know, but you’d be amazed how many programs recruit a lot of what we call “projects” and then wonder why they struggle. A project, by the way is a player that has some raw ability but is very unrefined in his playing ability. Typically, this is a kid who requires a lot of coaching and improvement before he is ready to be a regular contributor at the college level. Some of these guys turn into the best players in the league… On the other hand, some of them end up back home in time to pick out a sweet-ass Halloween costume.
Ok, we don’t recruit guys that suck. That’s the first thing, so what’s next? Well, now we develop the relationship, and everything else we’re able to accomplish is built from there. Building a relationship with a player is just like building a relationship with anyone else… You have to DTR (Define the Relationship), develop trust, and have good communication. I know I sound like Dr. Phil, but it’s true. The bottom line is that your guys have to understand that you’re the coach, but they have to trust your judgment and feel like they can be honest with you about their game. Without trust they’ll never truly buy in to what you ask them to do, and without open lines of communication they’ll never really feel like they can relax and play the game. I’m not saying it should be open season and that players should feel like they can do or say whatever they want, but as long as it’s within reason, it should always be encouraged for them to tell you how they feel things are going.
Something I should note as well is that it isn’t about having your players like you or think you’re cool either. If you earn their trust, even when you’re on their ass and they hate your guts (and trust me, at some point they WILL hate your guts… I never liked a guy while he was making me do burpees or telling me how bad I blew a play), they’ll be able to look back after the fact with some understanding of what you were trying to accomplish.
I’m lucky enough to have gotten close with a great deal of my players, and I think if you were to ask most of them, they’d say the feeling was mutual; The very same can be said for Adam, too. I think that’s why it comes as no surprise to people who’ve been around our program that we manage to continually put quality teams on the field.