August 25, 2014
Q: How do you keep the attention of players during practice?
I have spent most of my career coaching camps, privates and clinics. So my time with the individuals or group is short lived. I have been fortunate to have a pretty successful rate of kids listening. I think having a couple Gold Medals helps and a long career with the National Team – it keeps me cool. Now, I know that won’t last forever and in my family, it doesn’t really work with my kids.
So how do we reach the kids that don’t listen or don’t necessarily want to be there? Well there are always kids at camp that may be there from the start because their parents thought it would be best. Those kids are usually the ones that are a bit slower to come in with the group or perhaps don’t try as hard. The way I try to reach them is the way I like to reach all the kids, by making it fun. I try not to talk too much either. Maybe on one day you give them an extra minute or two of focus and let them know that they are doing great. I have seen firsthand a change in their expression and pep in their step after that.
Having a child that doesn’t want to listen at all is tough – especially when you have 50-100 kids to worry about. Sometimes I asked other kids to demonstrate the skill we are working on. They seem to focus a bit more after that – knowing they may be called in front of everyone.
In the end all kids want attention. A great coach knows how to reach all of these players. My coach at North Carolina, Anson Dorrance, found ways to motivate all of us. He may have had to do some different things for certain people but he found a way to get the best out of each of us. I am a coach in progress and everyday a player or person teaches me something new. I think that is the way it always will be. We may not be able to reach everyone but I know for a fact that as a coach, I care about all of my players and my goal is to reach each kid and somehow make a positive difference in their life.