But that is the challenge of being a youth sports coach. Just as you teach the kids to adapt and overcome their game circumstances, you will have to adapt and overcome your player circumstances, because – Kids have bad days too.
When you see your team underperforming, take a moment to consider why:
Are they physically tired from a sleepover the night before? Did they have to get up early for the game today? Maybe they didn’t have a good breakfast.
Did they get in trouble with their parents? Are they “afraid” of their opponents record (Did they mentally defeat themselves before the game even started?), or maybe their mind is on a much anticipated birthday party that starts later in the day.
As a coach, we have to fill the emotional tanks of our players in a positive way regardless of how they are performing. That’s easy when things are going well. Even if the team is underperforming, sometimes winning is enough to carry the day. As John Madden once said, “Winning is a great deodorant” and league commissioners seldom hear complaints or concerns from the winning team for that very reason.
So when your team or players have got you frustrated because they are underperforming, take inventory of what you can do for them to fill their emotional tanks. Maybe there comes a point in the game that the scoreboard is no longer the motivation to perform, maybe there comes a time when you say to your team – “Let’s run a crazy play and have ridiculous fun doing it”.
Remember that the goal for youth sports is to have our players leave the playing court (or field) happy, healthy and wanting to come back. So when your team has you frustrated, maintain your poise. A good leader exudes positive energy in good times and in bad.
There are no scholarships at stake.