Brandon Hudgins' blog: Word of the week is trust

The word of the week is Trust. Trust yourself, trust your coach, trust your athlete, trust the process. Any meaningful relationship in life is built on trust. This is especially true for the coach-athlete relationship. It is natural as a human to question authority, your situation, or your process. I truly believe that questioning leads to learning. For trust to exist there has to be an open line of communication that flows both directions. Breakdowns on either side can prove to be detrimental to the process and outcomes. There is a reason that many of the same coaches (no matter the sport) seem to win year in and year out. I can guarantee that all successful coaches are great communicators as well as successful athletes have to be great listeners and learners. 

Photo by Ken Osburn for

Video: Blue Shoes elite mile and coverage
Taco Bell Classic coverage

For a coach to be successful at their trade they must trust their self. A coach that doesn't have trust in his abilities to successfully communicate his/her ideas to the athlete and come up with effective strategies, can’t expect the athletes to trust them. Trust comes through experience and knowledge. Communication is key. You have to be able to not just command, you have to be able to listen. When all else fails, fake it till you make it. History and science have proven that people can convince themselves of just about anything. So, even if you are a new coach or new to a sport, act like you know what you are doing. The world is full of successful people that have no clue what they are doing, but pretend to know every single day. Be willing to learn and admit mistakes. If you believe in what you are doing, then that will show to your athletes. Especially coaches that coach younger athletes, many of your athletes will be looking to you for help with guidance and confidence, so you have to have the ability to get them to buy into your principles and trust your words. Far too often in my time around track and field (going on 17 years, geez I am getting old) I have seen too many coaches lose the respect of their athletes by being inconsistent and ineffective communicators. A coach’s words must carry weight and meaning. The team environment can quickly sour when athletes start to lose confidence in their coaching. 

Athletes, look to your coaches for guidance and trust. They have they have earned their job for a reason. An athlete that believes in what they are doing is much more confident and powerful on competition day than one with no confidence in their abilities or training. I equate track and field to boxing in a lot of ways. A boxer that gets into a ring with no confidence and no trust in his coach or training is more than likely going to get absolutely pummeled by their opponent. If you think you are going to lose you probably will! Trust the process and understand that track and field is about progression and patience. Nothing comes overnight. One bad race or workout doesn’t mean that things are wrong. Trust that you and your coach will find a way to right the ship and become successful again. If you don’t understand things don’t be afraid to ask, but remember don’t be disrespectful or confrontational. Approach questioning with the sense of understanding and wanting to be better not thinking you know better. This is where communication and understanding are key. The coach and athlete both have to communicate ideas, feelings, and direction for everyone to stay on the same page. 

With all this said here are four keys that I believe are necessary for trust in the coach/athlete relationship: 

1. Communication - Coaches must communicate goals and principles. Athletes must communicate feelings and understanding. The key to successful communication on both sides is honesty. Coaches don’t lie to the athletes and athletes don’t lie to your coaches. This is guaranteed to impede progress and communication. 
2. Be consistent - Do what you say, say what you do. Coaches must be rocks. When a coach is consistent, the athlete knows what to expect day in and day out. It shouldn't be a mystery for the athlete what coach is going to be like at practice or competition. Athletes be consistent in your performance and execution. 
3. Accept blame - When you screw up, admit it, learn from it and move on. Trust is hampered when people are unwilling to accept blame for their actions. Coaches if you made a wrong decision that cost the team a victory or was too much to ask the athletes, admit that you are the one that made the mistake. Know when you made the wrong call. Athletes admit when you didn't execute properly or follow instructions and it leads to failure. The coach will understand that you know you messed up and you will both be on the road to repair as opposed to playing the blame game.
4. Learn - Athletes learn from coaches and coaches learn from athletes. When you have an open line of communication then athletes and coaches can grow together. No one knows everything, so you both still have a lot to learn from each other. So listen, communicate, be consistent and admit mistakes and you will both learn and grow and create a special relationship that can last a lifetime not just an athletic career! 
Until next time!