By: John Klessinger
Originally Published in: A Coach's Manual
Provided by: Championship Productions
"Be hard on them when you win, and love them when you lose." - Unknown
Years ago, I read this quote in a book. For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the book or the author. But I live by the quote and philosophy when coaching my team. This philosophy is a contradiction of how most coaches respond to losses. Usually, the opposite occurs. A coach comes down on their team after a loss. Teams work harder after a loss. Coaches have them run sprints or do extra conditioning. A win, on the other hand, is celebrated and keeps the team in balance. Psychologically speaking, the quote makes sense. If your team is bought in and cares about performance, the players will be emotionally drained and disappointed after a loss. With that in mind, they will need to build back up to prepare them for the next competition. After a tough loss, your players need encouragement, love, and hope to get their mindset in the right place. Assuming her team played strong and gave their best effort, a coach should dial it back and focus on positively elevating her players.
On the other hand, if the loss was about effort, a coach can be hard on them. I suggest a heart to heart discussion about heart, grit, and determination in a calm and non-threatening way. Although ambiguous, there is a difference between losing a tough game and losing due to a poor effort.
When your team is winning, emotionally, they are feeling good and can withstand more tough practices. It is a "business as usual" approach after winning. Your kids will want to work hard when they are winning, and their effort is validated after each competition. After a win, there is an urgency to continue what is working. I would keep pushing them within the context of your schedule and be conscious of overworking them. With success, there comes a feeling of confidence that your players can do more and more. Success and winning drive people to burn out and lose motivation. Be aware of this irony and keep them hungry, humble, and healthy. From personal experience, I had talented teams that had much success but underperformed when it counted, mostly due to me not taking my foot off the gas. As the coach, I should have backed off and looked at the larger picture and put them in a better position - mentally and physically - to peak at the right time. Instead, I pushed and pushed, causing them to be tired, resulting in them losing motivation.
There is a fine line between pushing them to their highest potential and burning them out. You need to find that balance. Today, I look at myself first as a measure. If I am tired, a lot of times, they are as well. I will casually talk to my players and gauge their physical and mental well- being. If they need rest and time to recharge, I will back off or even give them a day off at an unsuspecting time.
Rubbing is a term that I have used throughout my coaching career. I am not sure if I heard it somewhere or just created it. Rubbing is giving kids the positive encouragement they need. Whether it is your best player or worst, everyone wants and needs to be pumped up with positive talk. We all want to feel good about what we are doing regardless of if you are a child, teenager, or adult. In sports, rubbing is a constant thing. Our emotions can be like the stock market- up, down, or all over the place. School, sports, social life, and family can leave your team emotionally exhausted. Take notice of your players' facial expressions and body language. They may need those 20 seconds of positive feedback. "John, you are looking good, keep working hard. I am proud of your improvement." It may be accurate or a slight embellishment. John is dragging and tired. A quick comment can boost them when they need it and develop a greater rapport with John and your team.