The start of training camp or two-a-days for most teams is only weeks away, where coaches everywhere will issue equipment to starry eyed youth, high school, and college aged players with varying skill sets, all with dreams of making an impact on the football field.
Like all things in life that are tough, some players will realize that football just isn't for them, while others will hand in their pads because they simply didn't enjoy their football experience.
As coaches, there are a number of things within our control where we can do our part to make sure players enjoy their experience, so I thought I would kick today off by pointing out five ways that coaches can ruin a player's football experience.
- Have IMPOSSIBLY high expectations
Every player on the team has a different ceiling, and great coaches are known for pushing players to their limits (and sometimes beyond) in order to maximize their potential...however, it's important to keep in mind that the ceiling for your star running back is much different than the ceiling for the fifth or sixth stringer, and that's something that should be kept in mind. You can still expect maximum effort from players, but understand each of them is different as well.
- Show an overall lack of respect
The coach-player relationship is one built on mutual respect. You can't have a relationship where the player honestly respects you if you aren't giving them the same courtesy.
- When coaches show up to practice unprepared, or constantly "wing it"
It's hard for kids to buy in with a coach if he's constantly showing up to practice unprepared. The players put a lot of sweat into workouts in the summer, and to have a coach at practice that isn't putting in the same amount of effort can really ruin a kid's experience. Kids will play their tails off for guys that are putting the same amount of time and sweat "in the bucket" as they are.
- When coaches only care about what a player can do for them on the field
Probably the quickest way to ruin a kid's experience as a player is to show that what they do for you, and the team, on the field is the only thing that matters. Genuinely invest in the kids well being off the field, in the classroom, and at home, and you'll get much more out of them when it counts, and that goes a long way with an entire roster of kids who know you care about them just as much off the field and after they graduate as you did when they were playing for you.
- When coaches don't understand how to reach a player
Coaching is like teaching, different kids respond to different types of coaching. One kid may respond great if you enthusiastically get on him after a mistake, while that same approach will cause another kid to shut down. As coaches, it's our responsibility to understand how to effectively reach each player to get the most out of them, and so that they can understand how to also get the most out of themselves.