COACH'S CLIPBOARD: Getting Respect
The hope embedded inside every new season is to demonstrate the coaching ability well enough to receive the one reward, arguably, revered by all coaches: R-E-S-P-E-C-T from players, parents, and other parent-coaches. But what to do kids are just not that into you?
Young players are all good kids, but sometimes they lack the necessary drive, desire, and motivation required to learn and improve. When you think about the problem more closely, isn't this just the DNA of kids? The first piece of advice is don't let it get to you. Embrace it. It is easy to start spiraling especially as the fun of coaching wears inside of losing.
What does spiraling look like. Internal conversations like the following:
His poor attitude says, “I do what I want.” Or, "It is too bad he doesn’t want to listen better; he would be much easier to coach." Other comments frustrated coaches say, "She is fearful and timid and therefore difficult, at times, to coach. Why isn’t their will to win higher? Why are they so fidgety and so quickly unfocused? It is the kids’ goofing around that makes it hard to get any good flow going in practice. If only the 10 to15 good minutes of every practice could be harnessed for a whole practice, how good could they be?"
The Parent Excuse
Another defense mechanism that further promotes spiraling and takes a coaches focus away from finding new and creative ways to introduce sports to kids is using parents as the excuse.
While difficult at times, you must understand that, like raving fans, nothing can be done about parents. Sometimes the time coaches spend spiraling about parents is sometimes why players are just not that into them. Coaching is tough. Mainly because it is impossible to make everyone happy.
Keep it Simple
Keeping coaching simple is important.
This starts by beginning to understand that every player is first an individual. Treat them like such, and not as extensions of their parents, and inroads, albeit sometimes slowly, can be built. There is never enough time to work with players so it is important we make the most of the time we have. Instead of focusing on what you can't control begin focusing on what you can and that starts with building strong relationships with your players. Everyone player has coaching needs and coaches should build their coaching styles around those needs. Building your coaching style first begins by being smart, choosing your battles and creating an atmosphere of trust kids can depend upon and eventually look forward to returning to.
Coach vs. Friend
When things are not going well it is not uncommon to begin going to extremes to find balance. Befriending players is one way of finding balance that can be a recipe for new coaching problems. There is a difference between being friendly and befriending. The rule is that befriending one player or a group of players always means alienating others. The winning instincts of coaches often cause them to cross this line and make the mistake of showing more attention more to star players. Besides alienating other players, it can make those receiving the extra attention haughty. Great players are humble. They became great and stay great through hard work. Push players in practice, be the coach they need to continue improving.
It is natural to acknowledge players skills and abilities in your mind. However, remain objective amongst your players and they will respect your non-partisan ways.
Winning at Coaching
The old adage is sports are more than just winning. It is something coaches sometimes forget especially as the stakes rise. As much as we want to make youth sports ours again, get out on the field and display all of the skills and wisdom we've learned; it in the end is still the kids' game. Much of what what we learned and where our wisdom came from was winning and losing. Of course, losing always casts a much bigger shadow but we must look at it as part of the pathway to winning.
Relinquish personal agendas
Sports offers kids time with friends, time to be active, and time, most importantly, to have fun. Letting a personal coaching agenda to prove oneself as a winner at coaching often means forgetting the kids inside of sports. Instead of building winning agendas think about it as building winning values, ones that can be instilled into players. Proper values should celebrate losing as an indication that improvement is needed and honor winning as something that is respected and never a sure-thing. Essentially winning coaches are teachers, teaching players how to win and lose with dignity.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T from players comes easiest when you take players’ needs into consideration first. Each player’s needs are different and while it may, at first, seem daunting to build your coaching strategies around player needs; in the end you will not only have the respect of your players but that of parents and other parent-coaches. See you in class!