Coaching Pitch

Yesterday morning, I made my usual stop at Starbucks after spending some time at the gym. I got to witness (overhear) a set of parents, their son and a potential youth football coach talking about stuff. Being a coach, for a very long-time, I really love to listen to coaches do their thing. This situation has happened to me many of times, so I thought why not sit and listen to a younger coach. I know, I was listening in on a very important discussion between a coach, parents and the player sitting there (in the middle of Starbucks). Should I have listened in? Probably not, because what I overheard really made me a bit angry. The young coach was probably doing what he thought would impress the parents enough to let their son play for him. From my vantage point, I saw a huge miss. (Let me apologize now for the length of this post, but I think it is worth it!)

Here are some of the topics:

  • The young coach was talking up his resume. From his younger playing days to high school… How he was a star high school athlete that just did not get any breaks to get a scholarship to play in college. I shortened it quite a bit… He moved to his coaching resume. Which consisted of assistant coaching at one of the local youth leagues and the past 2 as a head coach.
  • I was hoping to see if the parents would ask him for his coaching philosophy, but he sort of led them to it (in a round about way). He discussed how difficult the first year was – with not getting to really pick his team. He was handed a very rough and low in talent team. They did not win a game. The second year was
    better as he was really doing more scouting and recruiting of players to play for him. This year, he promised that he will win it all. He has that much talent.
  • Next up, the young coach circled back to his playing days. He was going to use what he did in high school to pass onto his players now. From looking at the family and their son, I think he was in 5th or 6th grade. Are they really ready?
  • The discussion overall, to me, was a sales job of picking that coach…

As said before I have been a coach for a very long time… When meeting parents of players and players – I have developed a short overall talking points to what to expect. Here is an overall breakdown:

  • Introduction – Simple who I am, where I come from, my experience (only the number of years or certifications) in playing, referee and coaching, and how I am excited to offer my experience to their children.
  • Coaching philosophy – I believe that it is my honor to be teaching the game that I love. I want my players to love the game and want to keep coming back, year after year. The overall experience is important. It is much more than the X’s and O’s.
    Safety is #1. Placing education and character development ahead of any wins. Our practices will both help the player master their sport, but most of all build confidence in their abilities (both in sports and in life).
  • Next up – I will discuss with the players in the room – their responsibilities.. Simple list of: Show up on-time. 40 minutes before practice and 1 hour before game time (since this is hockey – there is dressing time besides coach talk). Be ready to work hard. Be respectful to players, coaches, referee’s and parents at all
    times. Keep your grades up (parents can use hockey as a tool for keeping grades up, all I ask is, have them come to games (they get to sit on the bench) to see what they are missing). Don’t ever have a repeat offender – when they sit and watch.
  • Lastly – I discuss the parent responsibilities! This is important.. Simple list just like the players.. Of course, most of the players I have coached – don’t drive. So, the parents get the same be on-time. I usually talk about the zero tolerance policy (which is a bit more detailed than be respectful to players, coaches, referee’s and parents at all times). Since they know I will support them with grades or behavior issues – they just need to let me know. Please refrain from coaching your young athlete on the way to and from games. This one is tough for me, as I am a coach, but trust me – leave the ride to and from the game for “other” things. Lastly, if something is not going well – with practice, game situation or anything with me or my coaches, please do not confront the situation at the rink. Call me, email me and we can set up some time to meet or discuss on the phone. Cooler heads all the way around. Players, coaches and parents get into the heat of the battle of a game. The player is usually over with it, right after the game. Adults take more time to cool down.

I don’t usually talk about winning championships or titles or trophies, those are not what this is about. Sports to me, is about learning teamwork, physical exercise, applying sports to life lessons and building character. I want to provide the best experience for each of the players and parents that I get the privilege to coach. If you happen to win, well, treat that like having and eating your cake too…