Coaching students get lessons from SMU’s own

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Three SMU coaches stressed Wednesday that coaching is an impactful position that hinges on relationships and communication.

SMU head football coach Chad Morris, women’s golf head coach Jeanne Sutherland, and women’s soccer assistant coach Nicole Nelson shared insights from their coaching experiences and their keys to successful coaching.

“All coaching is, is relationships. Developing relationships on more than just the football field,” Morris said. “This is a powerful platform, discovering things about yourself you never thought you had.”

Morris, who took the SMU job in December, said relationships between a head coach and his assistants, his players and even fans are essential to success. How are those relationships formed? All three coaches agreed they are formed through good communication. Good coaches must be good communicators.

“My mom used to ask me, ‘Did you talk to your player? Did you listen to your player?’ That’s the best advice I’ve gotten from coaching,” Sutherland said, speaking from 19 years of college head coaching experience.

Communication helps coaches understand their athletes on a personal level and how to best coach them. Nelson said that each athlete has a different way of learning. But without any type of communication, coaches can’t expect to earn their athletes’ trust or learn how to bring out the best in them.

“I use the example of emotional bank account,” Nelson said. “If you’ve put money in and spent time with every player, you can approach them a little bit differently,”

Added Sutherland: “What the athlete brings to the relationship is just as important as what the coach brings.”

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