Monday, January 14, 2008
The Hardest Part of Coaching
The hardest part of coaching is watching dreams shatter, no matter the reason. There is no question about it.
I have been the assistant coach of a high school boys varsity basketball team for three years now and I see it every year: a senior's hopes crash as the season progresses. It breaks my heart. Currently, there is one senior player who I have very good relationship with that this is happening to. He began the season as a starter, but has since been demoted. He sulks during practice and he tears up after games in which he plays very few minutes. He had such high hopes for this season and now those hopes are seemingly gone.
Of course, he can do something about it. He can work harder in practice. He can work to shut down whoever he's assigned to defend. He can be a model teammate. He can hustle from drill to drill. He can come in early in the morning and shoot extra. Believe it or not, coaches notice this kind of stuff, and it makes a difference.
I don't know if he thinks the extra effort will pay dividends though. No matter how many motivating talks we have with him, he may be convinced that giving his maximum effort will not be enough and that he is a victim--that his high school career was taken from him. It seems like this happens every year, and it breaks my heart. Somehow, somewhere along the way, he was given the impression that seniors deserve a starting spot and do not need to earn it.
Sometimes, kids just aren't mentally tough enough to deal with the adversity of loosing playing time. Many people are quick to assign blame--if the player would only...the coach is playing the wrong kid, etc.--but right now, it's just killing me watching him handle this so poorly.