Dale Carnegie taught us that relationship building starts through first demonstrating interest in others. If buy-in is critical to working with athletes to accomplish their goals, it follows then that relationships are critical to buy-in.
A relationship includes both the interdependence of two individuals working together to achieve a common goal(s) and a level of understanding between them (Knowles, Shanmugam, Lorimer 2015). In the sporting realm, it has been described as a “social vehicle” for the often long road to performance success, with positive relationships enhancing this experience and negative relationships prolonging or disrupting both progression and personal development (Knowles, Shanmugam, Lorimer 2015). Dr. Sophia Jowett, whose primary research revolves around the confluence of interpersonal relationships within the worlds of sport and coaching, believes that the relationship between a coach and an athlete can be conceptualized by the elements of both success and effectiveness (2005). Success relates to skill development and competition results, and effectiveness focuses upon personal satisfaction and the development of a rewarding bond. Relationships serve as the foundation of the influence that we have on others and that they have on us, while a humans’ ability to form relationships was critical to our species’ survival in the hunter-gatherer days. Many evolutionary psychologists posit that our ability to cooperate helped elevate us to the top of the food chain. If one person or tribe made a big kill, they would share it with others because in the future they might depend on others to share their food with them. Bonds were key to our survival. If you follow sporting culture you realize that this hasn’t changed much, despite not having to go any further than the nearest COSTCO for a super-sized surplus of food. The success of individual coach-athlete relationships, teams, and even governing bodies depends largely on relationships.