5 keys to great relationships with the coaches you cover


As a play-by-play broadcaster, if you don’t have a good relationship with the coach of your team, it can make for a very long season. Fortunately, the quality of that relationship is largely within your control.

photo credit: Siena College via photopin cc

Today, I’m sharing five keys to building great relationships with your coaches.

1. Get to know them
In 1997, I was the radio voice of the Anaheim Piranhas of the Arena Football League. The first thing I did when I got the job was to introduce myself to Head Coach Mike Hohensee. I was going to need access to him all season, so I wanted him to know who I was. On our first road trip, we sat poolside at a hotel in Phoenix talking about everything except football. Getting to know each other a bit personally set the foundation for a great season together.

If your coach is standoffish and traditionally cool towards his play-by-play guy, respect that too. Be professional, but don’t try to be personal.

2. Be selective
You’re going to see and hear a lot of stuff being around your team everyday that your audience would love to know about. You need to know what is okay to share publicly and what is not. It’s kind of a “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” sort of thing. It is especially relevant to strategies, injuries and athletes getting into trouble.

3. Be supportive
I once heard a former NBA coach say that his relationship with his play-by-play guy instantly went south when the broadcaster questioned the coach’s strategy during a game broadcast. There’s a difference between being critical and reporting the facts of the game, know where the line is so you can avoid crossing it.

4. Know your place
The same ex-NBA coach was also ticked off because his broadcaster often over-stepped his bounds. Going through the post-game buffet ahead of the players and sitting in the players section of the airplane are big no-no’s.

5. Don’t fraternize with the players
A women’s basketball play-by-play broadcaster at a major university lost his job because he was hanging out with the players on road trips. The head coach didn’t like it and had him dismissed.

These suggestions for having good relationships with the coaches you cover are the same as those for building meaningful relationships with any person. It all comes down to trust. Use common sense, treat them as you would want to be treated, and everything will usually be great.