About Me

Jack Perconte

Communication is Everything these Days

Sports coaching tips of the day

I love listening to the Cubs manager Joe Maddon. He gives his thought process in detail as to the moves he makes. Of course, not everyone agrees with what he says, but that is beside the point. He explains!

I hear something to the effect of this daily, “The coach is terrible.” For proof, I asked a high school player how their team did in the state playoffs. “Not well,” was the response. “That’s too bad, what went wrong?” “The coach,” was the reply. Ah, my first thought was, “Was the coach on the field making the plays?”

The next day I heard, “We were duped by the coach,” meaning what they got for their money wasn’t what they were promised at the beginning.

Unfortunately, I could not disagree with the above sentiments, as the state of coaching hasn’t kept up with the times.

Back in my day, coaches made moves without having to answer to anybody, for good or bad. Players accepted the coaching moves whether their egos were hurt or not, without getting or expecting an explanation.

Times have changed. Even professional athletes’ self-esteem needs to be addressed, as emotions and personalities are delicate these days. You must change with the times and communicate with players and parents why moves are made. Yes, once again for good or for bad, you must realize that you are coaching more than the players - you are coaching the parents as well. Is it more time consuming and tedious, sure, but that is the state of youth sports play.

You can avoid being considered terrible by being as transparent as possible. Of course, some people you can never please, but for the most part you can avoid disruption and sniping behind your back. First things first, remind the parents you are a volunteer and will do your best to further their child’s development.

Next, keep the lines of communication among all open and explain, explain, explain, your thought processes when you can.

Things you can do:

  • If you have a set lineup, explain the process you have arrived at it to everyone. The same goes for playing time. If it is not equal playing time for all, which I believe it should be at the youth level, explain why it’s not.
  • Have occasional quick get togethers with parents and discuss anything they have questions about.
  • Talk to players one on one afterwards when:
  1. Replacing them in a key spot in a game.
  2. Another player has beat them out of the starting position
  3. They appeared unready to play
  4. They seem totally frustrated with their role.
  5. An opposing fan or player or coach says something to one of your players.
  6. Any parent is out of line.