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Two youth players during a game of football

Trust is ‘the belief that someone is good, honest and will not harm you; something or someone that is safe and reliable’. 


Can you honestly say that your players always feel that way about you? It’s essential that they do.  

Here's why. Players who feel supported, valued and safe in their football environment perform better. Act as a trusted outlet for your players, and you lighten their load. The result? They can focus on the task at hand. 

This is true for other coaches and colleagues too. 

So, how do you work on developing trustworthy values to create a strong relationship with players? Here are seven ways to start. 

 

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Never be the source of gossip or distrust - instead help, support and advise

1. Seize the 'sliding door’ moments

Imagine you promised equal playing time at the start of the season. Later, you break that promise. How will your players feel? 

This is a ‘sliding door’ moment. A chance to build or betray trust. It’s up to you to recognise these moments when they come along and pick your next steps carefully.  

Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It’s formed through small actions over time. You must repeatedly follow through with what you say you'll do. 

So, as a coach, don’t over-promise or under-deliver. Be honest, realistic and true to your word. 

Has a player confided in you about something? Keep it to yourself. Never be the source of gossip. Instead, it’s your role to help, support and advise.  

If something is a safeguarding issue, be sure to act on the information appropriately though. 

Trust is built when a coach is always there to listen and support their players.
Trust is built when a coach is always there to listen and support their players.

Made a mistake? Own up and show that you’re genuinely sorry. And respect others when they make mistakes. Move on without holding a grudge. 

 

Trust is built when we assume that other people are acting with the best of intentions. Being accountable for your actions is key to that.  

5. Ask for help

It’s good to show that you’ve not got all the answers. Asking for help builds trust with your players. And it gives them permission to act in the same way. 

 

In a supportive culture, people say “I need help” just as often as “how can I help?” 

 

6. Show integrity

Working with young players means constant decision-making. Many of these decisions are challenging. It’s not always easy to choose teams, remind the group of agreed boundaries, or deal with disappointment. 

But trust is developed when you choose courage over comfort. Do the right thing, rather than the thing that’s fast or easy.  

7. Deal with issues swiftly

When problems come up, raise and deal with them quickly. This lets everyone get back to the important thing – playing football.  

 

Because, when trust is high, everyone’s more productive.