One month ago I was preparing to go to Junior Worlds. Junior Worlds is a very challenging tournament for a couple of reasons. First-the participants are kids and as a rule immature. Having taught teens for 30 years I know they may look adult and sometimes talk adult but the logic center has not been hooked up in many cases. Second-the parents-Their logic center should be hooked up but when it comes to their children-not so much sometimes. The best way I heard it explained is a grizzly bear will charge if they think the cubs are threatened. So you can have two sets of folks without a logic center hookup. Enter the ole ball coach. If the child loses I am not disheartened. I know that there is a lifetime of chances to win and many a World Champion lost as junior players.
So here are my five rules for Junior Coaching.
1. They do not have to win; they have to play to the best of their abilities! (then winning will take care of itself)
2. Given number one, everything you can do as as a coach to take pressure off the athletes should be done.
3. Stay in the moment and do not listen to the “chatter” around you. Phrases like “Oh no, here comes the choke! or This has always been their problem etc.” drive me crazy. the past is the past-my concern is with the now.
4. Think ahead-what serve will work next, who do they play next, what strategies do you employ next?
5. Think of what is best for your athlete and your athlete’s family. Do your best. That is all you can do.
At the end of the day, doing your best as an athlete and a coach is all you can control!