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To Start or Not to Start – that is the Question

start coach player role team help season honest

Players play better when they can focus all of their efforts on their performance instead of wondering what their role on the team is, or what you think of them as a player.

Learn 3 important things to tell each player regarding their role on your team.

It’s important for coaches to clarify with each player exactly how you see that player’s role – are they are starter or backup player? Will they be more of a role player and if so what role? And how could a player change the role you give them if they want to?

When you leave these issues unaddressed then players start looking for their own answers and will take things like who they get paired with in drills, who you group them with for conditioning or warm-ups, who you put them with in batting practice – anything that will indicate whether they’re a starter or a bench player, whether their the #1 at their position or not, and whether you like them or not (honest).

Now, here’s the rub – if you don’t tell them their role and they have to go search for it themselves, they will come up with an answer. It’s usually not even close to the real one, but only you hold the real answer and you’re not sharing, remember? So they hunt for their own. The problem with this is that it almost always involves that player asking one or more of their teammates what they think their role is and that’s when things can get really out of hand.

So – instead of letting your players make up their own version of reality and you having a team mess on your hands try sitting each of your players down at least twice in the season (at the beginning and half-way point) and tell then:

  1. How you see using them this season
  2. How they can really help the team in that role (even if a sub they can help the team a great deal by pushing the starter to practice harder and play harder, and to be ready to go in case of injury)
  3. How they can change their role

While some players may not like what you tell them, they really want to know where they stand and they respect you for being honest.

For more tips on how to handle tough issues and situations that come up within your team check out our book, A Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry: Tips on Coaching Female Athletes.

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