Monday, December 10, 2012

Don't Be an Obsolete Coach

As coaches, one of the issues we continually find ourselves faced with is providing feedback to our players. Some kids are open to feedback and do what they can to take the information and improve while others seem to dismiss what we say. Most of us find the second group of players to be extremely frustrating to deal with. When I read the article linked below, I started to think about coaches and how open they are to feedback. Much like players, coaches who are unwilling to think about and act on the feedback they receive will stagnate. In a club like ours, that is a terrifying thought.

Most of our better players are putting themselves in situations and places where they can grow. Those situations may be team training, ODP, outside camps or guest playing with other teams, just to name a few. They are getting constant feedback from coaches, other players (through words and seeing how they fit into the mix-never underestimate the power of a kid seeing where they are compared to other kids. The open minded kids will see where they are compared to the best kids) and their results. When I say results I mean wins vs losses, success within the game, playing time, making State or Regional Pool, etc. Feedback can come from a number of places. Our kids are striving to get better all the time and are getting feedback in that quest from a number of different places. The ones who will grow the most take that information and use it. The ones who will grow the least do not.

So the kids are getting feedback and getting better. Are their coaches doing the same? Are we growing as coaches and people at a rate that matches our players? This is important on multiple levels...we need to grow as coaches to continue to challenge the kids as well as to meet the demands of the game as the level the kids can play at increases. I also think it is important to model that behavior for our players. How can we ask them to grow and change based on the information they receive if we are not willing to do the same? Are we taking courses and reading journals? Are we watching other coaches (including our opponents) in games and training? Are we looking at our kids and seeing where they are deficient and why? Are we open to feedback from the kids and parents? Are we asking other coaches to watch a game or session and give feedback? How do we take the information we receive?

These ideas are uncomfortable for a lot of coaches, but I heard a top guy speak this summer and he had an interesting observation. To paraphrase, "If you are afraid of change, I hope you like the idea of being obsolete." As a coach if you are not open to feedback and change, the kids will pass you by, then the game will pass you by.

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