If you have coached for any reasonable period of time, you have had an athlete be resistant or even defiant. It is just like raising kids. They are going to test us to see how close to doing it their way they can get. When a player makes a poor decision, we correct it and move on; no big deal. But, what about the athlete who wants to do it his/ her way?
I get asked this question fairly often: 'How do you handle the one player who will not 'fall in line' with the standard?'
Just one player who has a 'they can't live without me' mindset can kill an entire team's culture. I saw it numerous times when I was an assistant coach. I vowed not to let it happen when I became a head coach, and I think I have stayed true to myself for the past twenty-one years.
Trust me, your athletes are watching to see how you deal with the star player who is late to practice, doesn't finish through the line, or talks back a little to his position coach. We can all think of numerous ways a primadonna shows his fellow teammates and coaches there is a different standard for him. Do the words "this is what we are about...our culture is...." really ring true? If not, every player knows it. They can smell a fraud a mile away. I cannot and will not ever be a fraud.
There are two ways doctors deal with cancer: treat it or cut it out.
At North Forney, we are going to treat it as long as we can. We even have a coach assigned to this role. He is lovingly referred to as our 'medicine man.' For us, this is Eric Luster. He is the perfect medicine man because he has a heart for kids but is not an enabler. He wants them to succeed and they know it.
If you have read many of my blogs, you know I am a member of the religion of SYSTEMS. Everything reoccurring success is based on a system (that's for another blog).
We will 'treat the problem' as long as the athlete will allow us.
Our system is this: Coach Luster will work out the players who were late or absent the day before (unexcused). They are separate from the team and do not wear our workout gear. His medicine does not taste good. They will be in 'F Troop' as we call it for every day they missed or longer if Coach Luster doesn't feel like they worked hard enough.
Do we ever have to remove someone? Yes. It takes a while to get to that point, but it happens on rare occasions. I absolutely hate it, but I hate having a fake culture and being a fraud more. We give our players 'daddy love', which means, just like a good dad would do, we will hold them accountable when necessary for the good of the family.
When you stand in front of your group, do they believe when you say 'no one is above the team'? Do you have a system for the ones who haven't risen to your standard yet?
Our reward is saving kids. It takes a lot of work, and you will be heartbroken much more than you will celebrate, but a few will take the medicine and become true team members. The few are worth it—the ones who won't are killing your culture anyway.