Saturday, April 12, 2014

Setting your players' expectations (tip #2)

I set parent's expectations to make my job as a coach easier. By setting expectations, parents have far fewer questions and they enjoy the season more.

Setting player expectations actually makes my job harder. Because if you're going to set expectations, you need to do the follow through work to ensure that players meet those expectations. Which means paying attention to each player, having an appropriate bar for each individual, and giving feedback in a manner that the player will receive. All that takes work. It's also something that I believe sets me apart from most coaches. And it's what I believe drives my success.

By trial and error I developed a formula that has worked well for me and I've used this the past three seasons. I have four rules that I expect all the players to follow, without fail. They are simple, reasonable (no reasonable parent or player would argue with these), and form a foundation for your players to develop. The rules:

  • Respect
  • Listen to your coaches
  • Try your best
  • Have fun
Respect is first because it is an umbrella rule around everything I do. In an era where a larger percentage of kids (and even their parents) lack respect for authority, their peers, institutions, etc, I find it important to set the tone that respect is a requirement of all things we do. No excessive celebrations, no arguing with refs, respect for your teammates efforts, etc. Most importantly here is respect for the notion of teamwork (since I coach team sports). The concept is simple: your teammates are working hard to work together to achieve team goals, so it is expected of you.

Listen to your coaches and Try your best go hand-in-hand. The key here is to follow through on your instructions. Players must try their best to do what you ask. It's the entire reason parents pay $$$ for their kids to join sports leagues (otherwise it's just rec play at the park... valuable, but not why parents enroll their kids in leagues). Reward the kids that listen and try their best, and the others will follow.

Have fun. I have never had a player who listened to their coaches and tried their best not have fun. It's a simple formula, and it works wonders. Sure, I've had players not listen, or not try their best, or both. Sometimes they have fun, sometimes they don't. But if you set the players' expectations that if they listen and try their best they will have fun, you will have a lot of followers. Of course it's on the coach to ensure they are giving direction that enables the kids to have fun, more on that in a separate post.

That's it. This is a simple formula that works, and works wonders.

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