WILL YOU PRETEND YOU DIDN'T HEAR IT OR WILL YOU CONFRONT IT?
It's your first spring on the job, and you are addressing your squad—you are laying out your vision of what will be the program's culture.
You are putting your heart and soul in your message, but a returning all-American in the back is mumbling, 'this is stupid'. You hear it, which means everyone else does as well. What do you do? Do you pretend you don't hear it, or do you address it? How you handle this situation will show your team all they need to know about you. In our last Elite Coaches' Mastermind, our guest speaker was Rick Jones, who has 317 career wins and is the senior assistant to head coach Eli Drinkwitz at the University of Missouri. I asked Rick, 'what is one thing you have learned from Coach Drink that would help our group.' "He sees and hears everything, and more importantly, will address anything that is counter-culture to what we are establishing here. He is unapologetically the 'standard keeper' and makes no bones about correcting everything that comes on his radar." Years ago, I heard a story about another Division 1 head coach who handled things differently. His personality was much more non-confrontational. Most everyone knew him as a players' coach whose style was relaxed and laid-back. He won at every coaching stop and moved up to the ladder until he landed his dream job. His first spring, while addressing his team, an all-American started mumbling, "this is stupid" (among other things). He pretended he didn't hear it and it cost him. A few years later, he was no longer the head coach at this institution. What will do when this situation happens to you? Are you going to be Coach Drink or the coach who pretended not to hear it? Do you wait to address the player in private or do you say something the second you hear it?
How you handle this situation will tell your team everything about the man standing in front of them. When I took over at North Forney in 2017, A LOT of issues had to be fixed. I had to put on my "game-face"
Instead of being aggravated by this, I looked at each issue as a teachable moment. Each time a player tested our standard, it was a chance to hammer home how we would now do things at the 'new North.' Everyone reading has a different personality and different tactics to achieve team discipline. But, it is imperative to call out a mumbler who is tearing down what you are attempting to build. You must defend the culture immediately. An elite culture will be tested...daily. If you are not willing to confront those who are not all in, you will not have a "real" culture. You must see, hear and address EVERYTHING (because everything matters) that goes against what you are building. It's not easy; only the elite coaches do it.