A key to Responsible Coaching is clear communication with players and their parents. In this series of articles from Positive Coaching Alliance, we will deliver sample scripts from which Responsible Coaches can draw to address individual topics. This week's topic is the ever sensitive topic of playing time.
A perceived shortage of playing time is a flashpoint in many youth sports environments. Responsible Coaches can pre-empt complaints and begin to galvanize a team-first mentality by explaining their playing time philosophies to players and parents early in the season. Here are some ways to address this topic with your team and the parents:
"There are great life lessons to come out of this experience. One is the need to compete and earn your playing time. In our program, you earn playing time based on several measures: attitude; talent; effort in practice and games; your desire and ability to learn; how well you mesh with your teammates, in terms of both personality and the way you play together as a unit; how much you improve skills; and how well you understand and embrace your role."
"I know that every player wants to play as much as possible, because it's fun, maybe because you want the status of being a starter, and because you are confident that the more you play, the more likely you are to contribute to our team's success. Just keep in mind that there are many ways to contribute."
"That may not be easy to accept, but it is a reality you will face again and again in sports and in other aspects of life, especially your work lives. We start preparing you for that reality here. It's part of my role as a Responsible Coach to help you understand and adjust. If you, as a player, have questions for me about playing time, please let me know, privately and more than 24 hours before or after a game."