Last year I returned to international team Coaching, as a private coach only, for the USA Junior team. It has been 14 years since I coached for the USA. I donated my time and efforts and I lost a ton of money but a few things prompted me to help the USA. The coaches asked me and my players asked me. I also do want to see the USA return to greatness. I know it is possible but not in the old ways-we have to do this the old fashioned way, by coaching our kids up from ground zero. Now this post below is from many players from many different countries. I have heard it from at least ten different countries over the years.
“Coach, I hate playing for my country!”
The politics of National Teams are troubling to say the least. When I began my USA tenure in the 90s I heard this also. My goal was to upgrade the coaching position to more qualified people. I tried to put in place a feeder system for players and coaches. To date we have talented young people out there who I hope enter the arena. Here are the top 5 things well meaning National Team Coaches do wrong.
1. Seek help from the wrong people. I see a bunch of inexperienced Coaches out there. They bring in an expert. Is that expert a coach? Almost never! Usually it is a player. Some are on their way to Coaching greatness, while the others are on their way to the bank to deposit money.
2. Assume they know what is best for athletes they barely know. Hello? Get to know your athletes. What drives them? Why do they play? Know that and you can make an impact.
3. Learn your craft! Not your playing craft! Learn your Coaching craft! Want to make an impact with a team? Coach them!
4. Be honorable. Have integrity. Coaching against your own players, selectively seeking out winners and ignoring losers, is sensed by the athletes. Put it another way. Are you in this for the athletes? For money? Or yourself?
5. Shun grandstanding. Popping into the championship photo without being invited is in poor taste. Taking tons of credit for an athlete’s hard work is in poor taste. Sit back and let the athlete have their day. They will thank you when they want to. The canned speech of how they owe everything to you every tournament smacks of insincerity.
Once you begin 1-5 the athletes will respect you and begin to have fun. It is a game and it should be fun! It should not be a swamp of petty political decisions!