Coaches, do you know, really know what you are doing to your (our) players. Take a moment to think about the psychological impact you are having on them. You bring players in, you make them promises and then you find the white lies. You all know what I am talking about.
When players are moved down from the 1st line to the 4th line and you say…… “ well I need you on the 4th line to make those players better” Or “I am looking to bring you up to Tier 2 soon” or come play for us on Elite and then the player comes in and you put him on tier 3. OK, do you really think our 4.0 GPA boys believe a word of this? NOT!
STOP! Instead of finding the white lies, why don’t you do this?
#1 – Be truthful – It is far better to let the players know the real reason, maybe they are struggling with some skills – well coach, then fix it, we are paying you to help our players, we are not here to win the Stanley Cup. – If they are not up to your standards, then help them get there.
#2 – Set goals and have honest meetings: I hear all the time, coaches saying to their players “your adults act like one”. Then Coaches, treat them like one. If they are struggling and you need them to get stronger by setting them down, here is a news flash, tell them what they are doing wrong and then set an obtainable goal to get to the level the player wants to be at. You set them down and don’t tell them why and you do not give them feedback on what to work on and what your expectations are to get back/ Hello, they cannot read your minds, you must tell the young players what it is you expect from them.
#3 – STOP making them afraid to talk to you, you are not teaching them real life lessons by being unapproachable. They need to learn to solve problems and ask for direction and you coaches need to respectfully give it, again, we are paying you, you work for the players/parents. When you pay our kids to play, then you can do whatever you want. But until then, you coaches have a responsibility to teach our kids and show them what they need to do. Stop tossing them around and making them feel like you think they suck as players.
Not all kids are created equal, not all players develop at the same time, for sure, and they’re all in different stages of their lives. Coaches you cannot teach just one way, your way, you need to bend your rules and expectations and help the players that are struggling. They know you are lying to them when you set them down with a lame excuse. . Just stop and take the moment to be honest and tell them why they are being set down, let them know what it will take in our eyes to get back. Set obtainable goals. It takes a great man to be honest and to truly help the kids, they are not all at the top of their game, YET. But if you guide them and show them, all your players will be elite players and not just a body. We are not asking for coddling, we are asking for truth and guidance, again, this is what we are paying you for. But here is another little tidbit, one, just one kind word to players can go a long way. So the next time they have a great practice or a great play in the game on their shift, how about a kind word. You certainly do not hesitate to rip them apart when they do something wrong!
And boy do I hate this saying….. Nothing worse than when I hear a coach say. “I need bodies.” How about this, they are young men, looking for a dream, playing a game you love and they love. Coaches, do not lose the love just for wins…..Even though we know most of our players will not make it to their ultimate dream, which is OK because this is all life lessons, a very expensive life lesson. Be a good role model coach! Not an asshole. If you do this, you will see tremendous growth from your players, instead of dejected players walking around with their heads low because they know you are not being truthful.
And you only care for your 1st line. They know, they see it, you will get some much more from it if you treat them all with respect. They want the feedback, they want the challenge, they do not want to hear about all your favorites (your 1st line). Be fair, be honest and set goals for the players to gain mutual respect, do not be the reason they stop loving the game. Be the reason they still love the game.