Where pressure meets the plan
Success is a journey not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome.
Not everyone can be Number 1. Arthur Ashe.
You’ve made it to game day. Now all of your work will be on display. Just think, your reputation, takes you to YouTube, is riding on the performance of a bunch of six, seven or eight year olds! The following do’s and don’ts maybe useful to you in this time of stress.
Do - Set a positive example. The Positive Coaching Alliance has some good standard operating procedures. Become familiar with and use their practices. Watch this short video for look at how unthinking actions, takes you to YouTube, can have unforseen consequences like those below.
Do - Manage your expectations. Competition can put people into an uncomfortable position. They require you to make judgements about your own values. Nowhere is this more evident then answering the question "What will you do to win?" At one extreme there is the Vince Lombardi school, "Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser." At the other end is the "It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" group. As coach you’ll have to manage some parents expectations as well as your own. Our Parents Resources page has a lot of articles on this subject.
Do - Work with the other coach. "Opponents were not seen as foes to be fought and beaten; rather as posing a problem which had to be solved." David Winner. Games don’t mean that learning stops because competition starts. When opposing coaches think flexibly and work together they can create learning opportunities that go beyond the weekday sessions. Click here for a lesson in sportsmanship from Ajax after they score a goal that they weren’t suppose to, takes you to YouTube. In this example the players already knew what was the right thing to do and did it. If it can happen in a professional league,it can happen in Burke.
Do - Use the pregame warmup productively. It represents 15 minutes for a warmup, for learning and play. Don’t line them up in front of a goal so that they can shoot one - at - a - time. No lines before a game. They aren’t warming up for a trip to the cafeteria. It’s active, like this kid with the untied shoe, takes you to YouTube. They can do some footskills, play tag but no lines. (Skip static stretching for the u-youngs. Get them moving in a dynamic warmup. For older kids start with light dynamic work followed by some static stretching.)
Don’t lecture before, during or after a game. The younger ones they aren’t listening anyway and the older ones already know what you’re going to say. Keep your comments very short and to the point.
Do - Plan your work and work your plan. Show up at each game with a written plan of what you want to accomplish. You should know who your starters are and who goes in for who and when. (For the u-youngs you will have to amend your plan almost immediately.) There are some guidelines and forms here.
Don’t - Over coach during the game and don’t be a cheerleader. This is difficult to balance. You want to help and will see lot’s of opportunities to do so. But it’s a fine line when you cross over into being Jim Henson with the muppets. If you coach from the side line use a calm tone of voice and words like "Relax," "Look around," "Work together." Avoid telling them exactly what to do. Don’t say "Shoot!" "Pass to ___!" "Cross it!" things like that. Ban "Go" "Pressure" and "Hustle" from your sidelines. Don’t overuse any players name, they can become self conscious. Don’t cheerlead, it’s just noise and adds nothing but adrenaline. When you really do have something to say they may miss it because it sounds like more chatter, takes you to YouTube. This advice has to be communicated to the parents.
Do - Remember, everyone already wants to win. They don’t need you to tell them how important this game is. Besides, it’s a hobby. (When Duane Thomas, NFL Rookie of the Year, was asked how he felt about playing in the "Most important game of the year" the Super Bowl, he replied, "If it’s so important why are they going to play it again next year?")
Don’t - Impose your view of how the game should be played. Help the kids discover their own. Some coaches love to see teamwork, a well oiled passing game, takes you to YouTube. Others will encourage freedom and creativity, takes you to YouTube, allowing players to run with the ball. (If you prefer genius, takes you to YouTube, be prepared to accept strong personities. Allow them the freedom to experiment.)