“yeah but by the end of the season, ya know, this group- they really started to “come together”, everybody started passing really well, wish we had more time, they were starting to play well as a team” I bet I hear this one half a dozen times a year easy, It’s one of those cliche things that coaches say when they are trying to sell something, and most of the time it’s themselves. Why do you think this happens so much? It’s cause we want to find that silver-lining, we want to basically come out and say, “this team was bad, because of what I did, because of my value as a coach, they are getting better.” That is essentially the point you are trying to get across is it not? One of the biggest areas I immediately try to target, that I struggle with myself on a daily basis, is accountability. In sports we all want to be successful; the players, coaches, parents and referees, we all want to be a part of a good team. I cannot tell you the amount of text messages I get with a game recap and an explanation. Well we lost 3-2, but the referee made some pretty bad calls, the sun was in our eyes, the goals were too small, we weren’t used to that narrow of a field, we didn’t wear our lucky socks today” OK, maybe not quite that far, but something very similar, do I do the same thing sometimes? absolutely. We do this because It’s extremely difficult to text someone and say “we lost 3-2, I’ve got to do a better job of getting us prepared”, or “we lost, we missed our opportunities, that team played better than we did.” We do the same thing with our kids, we point the finger or blame the coach or the other teams play, it can never be something where we say- we’ve got to play better, work harder, be more committed, etc. The biggest thing I want to do is not be the priority, not focus my attention on myself or my best interest, it’s always hard- but I have never let my ego dictate my decision making. I’ve coached teams that went 0-10 and 10-0 and I’ve never really let that change my approach to what I was doing, I’ve never let what others thought of me change the direction I wanted to go. I’ve always took the mindset- I can get better, I can do a better job, what things can I do differently? how can I make a bigger impact? It’s a journey, there is never any finish line, I feel like I’ll never be where I want to be, and without constant learning, growth, maturity, experience and adaptability I will fail. We as coaches, have to be accountable, we have to make our players be accountable, and although most of the time it’s somewhere in the middle- there is something to take from every match and say- I’ve got to do this better, we need to focus on this more at practice or this falls on me in our preparation. It’s funny how people will come up sometimes and will let me know that their child or team is “really good” or “definitely good enough”, says who? what are you comparing it too? what gives you the right or even me the right to set that level? If I go 10-0 does that make me a good coach? do I have a good team? it’s really hard to say, because their are so many variable to the whole thing (strength of schedule, league, age, etc.), I really try to just focus on what we are doing, not let anyone else or any other team be the measuring stick to what we try to do, focus on YOU getting better, focus on ME getting better and most of all on US getting better. Never be satisfied with where you are, there is always somebody working hard and better than you out there. Never be too high or too low, do a self-evaluation not have a pity party or bragfest. I think being any player or coach that can take that direct criticism from themselves, have a reality check, will be that much more prepared for life and sports in the future, it certainly makes you stronger and more capable of handing the struggles, perseverance separates the strong from the weak. You can either get better or get worse, you can’t stay the same.