There’s a trend of thinking that’s become a link of solidarity among many coaches. Where mention of how it’s the kids responsibility to “want it” “bring it” “own it” and “accept it” or don’t bother to show up – followed by: “all the coaches say, AMEN!” (including myself) Probably because it’s frustrating to have kids who can show up on our roster that are entitled, lazy, distracting, or lost all the time. We definitely can relate to that being a common frustration in our field.
Having a kid that’s hard to coach can throw a huge wrench in our plans, disrupt practice, and make our job of teaching and directing X’s and O’s a whole lot harder. How much could we accomplish if we had a team of humble, hungry, self-motivated, super athletes show up every day? Probably we could do just about anything we want, right? It’s so much easier to eliminate or ignore the challenge and capitalize on whats going to get us gains in areas that are measurable in the stat books, recruits, championships, and press.
But, my fellow coaching friends, this is the part of the job that takes us from being a knowledgable coach, to an effective one. That takes us from being an orchestrator to a builder.
This is why we are the coach, the teacher, the leader, and they are the athlete and the student. If we can help an entitled, struggling, distracting, athlete to become a driven, excited, motivated, kids who find satisfaction in the process then isn’t that our job? Maybe we can’t always succeed, but aren’t we supposed to try? If we can help a kid fall in love with sport, see their own potential, find their abilities and see them grow, then aren’t we supposed to do whatever it takes to get that done? What if that athlete has a learning difficulty, what if they are high functioning enough to participate on a real team but need some additional one on one time, is it worth it to make sure they get a chance to participate? What if they have had a bad authority role model at home, troubled house, lost a parent, and need to be mentored to become that great teammate? Are we going to take the time to build it or just grab onto the ones showing up who were fortunate enough to have already had that character developed in them?
Is there a choice that must be made between being inclusive, training the whole person, vs training to win? Can we live in an environment where we seek to do both without dropping the ball on one or the other?
I do with a whole heart believe that our kids should come to practice motivated, excited, driven, competitive, focused, respectful, able to handle tough situations with class, and ready to own their mistakes as well as praise their teammates.
But I also believe that getting a kid that already does all that that is a gift, not an expectation. That helping the rest see and believe in that mission and learn how to get there is my duty.