Part 1 of 3 Things I wish I knew when I started coaching 10 years ago
Unless you haven’t been on social media in the last week, you have seen the video of Geno Auriemma on body language. He believes players are becoming more and more selfish and entitled these days and I know most coaches would agree. The part I think people are missing out on are the boundaries Coach Auriemma talks about setting with his players. He doesn’t just talk to them about body language, but he holds them accountable and has clearly set boundaries.
This word is being used a lot today to describe the newest generation of players and their parents.
Coaches seem to fight against entitlement more than anything else these days, but we (the coaches) are partially responsible for the growing sense of entitlement. We are constantly telling players that the team needs them more than the they need the team.
An increasing number of players feel they are entitled to minutes, the freedom to “play their game”, coaches to give them personal training, managers to do their laundry, and janitors to pick up their trash. They are entitled to new uniforms every season, highlight films, multiple pairs of shoes, and team gear that you wouldn’t have seen on a NBA team 10 years ago.
More and more parents feel their son or daughter is entitled to play a lot of minutes, score a lot of points, win a lot of games, and not be held to a high standard by their coaches. They feel entitled to coach from the stands, coach on the car ride home, call or text the coach at any hour day or night, and that the program OWES them something for allowing their son or daughter to play on the team.
Not every parent and player is like this, but the players and parents that are can become a cancer to the team and the program.
The solution is very SIMPLE, but it is often a very HARD road.
“Practicing with the team is a privilege, not a right. In order to have that privilege people need to meet certain standards of timeliness, effort, attitude, and communication. Enforcing those healthy boundaries allows coaches to focus on essential pieces of growth and development, instead of putting out fires, and it creates a culture where the players have the power to choose. This not only elicits the best results, but it gets to the mission of equipping people for life.” -Jamie Gilbert
One of the best things I did this season was setting and maintaining boundaries. Boy I wish I had done this 10 years ago! I would have saved myself a lot of frustration and anger, while improving the player-coach relationship and helping them my players grow as people.
Players started to learn they were not entitled to anything, but they had to EARN everything!
Players started to understand being a part of a team was a PRIVILEGE and when they failed to live up to the expectations and standards of the program they would lose that privilege.
Boundaries help everyone establish expectations of one another for the good of the team and helps to foster positive relationships and growth.
Boundaries versus Entitlement
STEP 1: SET STANDARDS AND EXPECTATIONS
We had a team meeting and pizza party at the start of the season. After eating and hanging out for a while we got serious, sat down and the PLAYERS were the ones that set the expectations and standards for their season. Standards and expectations covered everything from on the court attitude and effort to all the ways we represent the program and ourselves off the court.
STEP 2: SET CONSEQUENCES
Avoid punishment like running or other conditioning. Conditioning is something that is GOOD for players and if we keep using it as punishment it sends the wrong message.
Instead if we want players to view their role on the team as a privilege then as coaches we must treat it this way.
If you are late to practice you sit out additional time or you do not practice.
If you leave a mess in the locker room, you do not get to have a locker anymore.
If you are giving poor effort in practice, you sit down or you go home.
If you do not maintain your grades, you do not practice or play.
STEP 3: ENFORCE YOUR BOUNDARIES
Continue to communicate the boundaries in a respectful manner. When a player fails to meet the standard or expectation repeatedly, enforce the consequences by taking away the privilege.
Now this is the HARD part.
What if it is the first practice of the season and you really need to get a lot accomplished?
What if you are a really bad team that struggles to win and without this one player you are going to find it impossible to even hang in the next game?
What if you have a really big game coming up?
What if, what if, what if…
There are a lot of situations where we will want to bend or break the boundaries and we feel we have no CHOICE.
We always have a choice.
“You get what you tolerate.” -Dr. Henry Cloud
If we choose to allow our player to practice, travel, dress out, play in the game, start in the game, receive team gear, or any other privilege…
Then we must choose to accept the fact that we are saying in that instance the standards do not apply to them.
When we fail to hold them accountable our message quickly becomes that the team NEEDS them more than the team NEEDS them to live up to the standards and expectations they have laid out to reach their fullest potential!
Think of ANY problem you have with a player. You do not have control over their actions. You are not responsible FOR them. You do have a responsibility TO them.
So put first things first and TEACH them that you truly care about them more more as a person than a basketball player.
Let them know the team would LOVE to have them be a part of the team.
BUT the team is not just about him/ her or winning, but truly about the good of everyone on the team.
You should do all of this without getting angry or upset, because they are losing out on the opportunity and privilege to train and play basketball.
Discipline to teach.
Discipline with love.
Easier said then done I know.
It is hard to bench one of your most talented players and lose the game by 40-60 points.
It is hard to sit two kids out of practice, because doing so brings your number of players down and ruins your practice plan.
It is hard to not allow a kid to wear his team gear, because he failed to put in the time and effort for the team fundraiser.
It MAY even hurt them. They may cry, they may yell, and their parents may call you mean and nasty names.
Boundaries will help them grow in character.
Boundaries will teach your team that you do not value winning or keeping people happy at all costs.