Mindhunter as a guide to Coach Player relationship

‘Coming at anyone with an attitude of “I’m right, you’re wrong” assumes that they’re of rational mind. We must establish communication. Ascertain demands, concede nothing, reject nothing, just listen. Listen to what he has to say. Try understanding him instead of trying to dominate him. Look for common ground. Find commonality. And if it feels like you’re buying time, well… that’s because you are. But it’s the key to making the perp feel heard.’ Mindhunter Season 1

One of the opening scenes from the TV show, Mindhunter was very interesting from the perspective of dealing with human beings. And with that the coach player relationship. The dynamic between players and management has changed considerably. What was once a teacher/pupil relationship, has now evolved into a much more balanced relationship. A relationship that both groups have a vested interest in. Some mentors still cling to the way it was for them as players. A one-way flow of information from top to bottom. A dictator style approach with repercussions for anyone who steps out of line. No questioning of what we are doing or why we are doing it.

Players today are very different from players 20 years ago. With the advent of social media and the greater ease to access information, players now are more educated in their sports than ever before. Players now know more about the sport than a lot of mentors. They are studying video, looking for stats, identifying current trends, speaking to college friends, looking for ways to enhance their performance and the performance of the team. They feel that they are entitled to a say on how things should be done. They are right. For groups to prosper, everyone must be pulling in the same direction, with the goal of getting to a certain point together.

Today’s players expect more from coaches. They are not happy to do drills for the sake of doing drills. They want to know why they are doing it and how does it benefit them. Is there not a way this exercise could be altered to challenge me more? How does this apply to a match? Why are we doing this? They want to ensure there is a purpose to what they are doing. If they are going to training twice a week, they want to make sure it is worth their while.

Players also want a freedom and an autonomy. They want to set their own rules and expectations. You, as a coach must engage with them. Ask for feedback, review matches and trainings, get their opinions, ask for advice, initiate discussion, adapt and improve. “Just because it works, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved”.

Players are part of A team but are they really part of THE team. If they are intrinsically motivated to improve as an individual, for the team, only then will they have 100% buy in to the process. When players see their efforts matched by everyone else involved, then they are satisfied. Time is a precious commodity these days and if someone feels their time is being wasted, then

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