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Surviving Your Second Year as a Basketball Coach

Chapter 10 - ...... Survivor Ain't Got Nuttin On Us!

by Ed Riley

I am a relatively outgoing insane, type of fella. Add to that, that my wife has never met anyone but a friend. Add to that, that according to my girls, my was wife has that rare disease called talkalotis, pronounced talk-a-lot-is. With all of this going for me, it was inevitable that in my first year of coaching, I would get to know and become friends with every coach in our league. I met 14 brand new coaches the year I started coaching.

I hope you really, really enjoyed your first year because that is quite possibly the best year there is. Remember the one player of yours that didn't make a basket for the longest time? I had one that didn't make a basket until the last game of her first year. Do you remember their face when they made that first basket? They had a smile wrapped around both ears and you could see every tooth they were missing from across the gym. That's the stuff that coaching memories are made of. That's also the reason why all 14 of the first time coaches I met decided to stick with it and coach their team the next year as well.

AS YOU CAN TELL, ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, RIGHT? ....... WRONG ...... Ever wonder why I named this book "Surviving Your Second Year?" Out of the fourteen perfectly happy first year coaches, only 6 survived to coach their third year. So, six coaches quit at the end of year two and two more quit in the middle of the season.

We tend to give nicknames to the different ages. We have the Dark Ages, the age of the Industrial Revolution, medieval ages, the Age of Enlightenment, and more. Let's look at our own children. When they are one year old, we call it the Wondrous Ones. So what do we call it when they turn two, do you remember? We call it the TERRIBLE TWOS. We all know this term and have probably said it about our own kids. The Terrible Twos apply to coaching as well. During my first year of coaching I visited my local watering hole infrequently. During my second year, I was an infrequent Regular. I made and lost my first gazillion because I invested in Absolute, in more ways than one.

Here is my Top 7 List of Things to Watch For During Year 2

7. First year players are cute and precious. There is nothing cute about a second year player.

6. Your player's parents have had a whole year to build up their expectations of what they think their own kid ought to be able to do. If their child doesn't live up to those expectations, it's the coach's fault. 

5. The "Parents From Hell" surface. Year one was the Age of Innocence = The parents are excited if their kid gets equal playing time and occasionally scores. You will hear a lot of wonderful ouuuh's and aaah's in your first year. Year two is "Why isn't my Johnny playing more than little Jimmy?" "Why aren't you sticking up for Johnny with that ref? My kid never touched that other kid, let alone foul them." 

4. Your players and their parents have had a year to watch a little NBA on TV. Now try getting them to stick to the basics in your Learning Sessions, yeah, right! 

3. The "Parents Form Hell" now believe they know more than you and are not afraid to let you, and everyone else in the world, know that. 

2. Ear boogers! We all know what nose boogers are. Old men with lots of nasal hair have them. Most of us know what lip boogers are. They are the dried up crud you get in the corners of your mouth. An eye booger is the sleep crud in the corner of your eyes when you first wake up. But ear boogers? An ear booger is the visible or invisible crud that second year players get in their ears that prevent them from hearing anything you have to say. Ear boogers are scary things, and they are contagious. One player gets ear boogers, next thing you know, the whole team's come down with a major case of the ear boogers. 

1. OK gang, now do a drum roll on your computer desk as you read the number #1 thing to watch for, during your second year of coaching ....... AND, #1 on the list is TIME. Time, you say to yourself, Yes, Time! It has been 9 months since you last coached these kids. THEY HAVE HAD NINE MONTHS TO FORGET EVERYTHING YOU TAUGHT THEM LAST YEAR. Sometimes we have to control our own expectations and frustrations. Please don't bet that your kids can do even half of the things they could last year, because you'd lose. In the beginning of your second year, just get used to the idea that you have to start from scratch.

So now let's see if I can make the glass half-full again rather than half-empty. As I have stated many times in the past, I would rather solve a problem before it becomes a problem. I have just listed seven major areas of concern for you second year coaches. Now let's solve these problems one by one.

7. 2nd year players aren't cute. I started treating my girls as responsible adults in 5th grade. This was the first year I had my players sign an Expectation contract. If a player couldn't make it to an LS or a game, the player had to call me and tell me why not. Parents were not allowed to call and make excuses. Playing time was equal as long as attendance and great positive attitudes existed. Screw up, and your playing time was reduced. 

6. Parents expectations and their subsequent actions were curtailed dramatically with the introduction and enforcement of the Expectation contract. This was the first year that I gave out homework. I.E., work on left handed dribbling, shoot 100 free throws before the next LS, etc. If I had a parent with unusually high expectations, then I asked the parents to sign off that their child had actually done their homework. When they realized that their child wasn't doing their homework, then how can it be the coach's fault? All of these things can help you in your second year. 

5. "Parents From Hell" can be greatly reduced by the having your Expectation contract signed and enforced. The next way to help solve this is by what I call the "One Minute Mis-manager." When I first started coaching, I would take forever to explain something to a parent, or even to a player. By doing this I not only missed the boat, I missed the taxi to the boat.

Most kids have a very short attention span. If it takes longer than a minute to explain something, you've lost them. Also make sure you explain it like you would to a four year old, so there is no chance for them to misunderstand what you are saying.

So it's time to apply my One Minute Mis-manager to the parents. I do everything in my power to limit my parent conversations to one minute as well. The shorter the conversations, the less time they have to whine, yell, or scream at you. Another helping hand is when you forbid your players to have their parents call you about being late, missing LS's, or missing a game. Parents can't work you unless they are talking to you. Another aide in this battle is e-mail. I try to do 90% of all communications outside of our LS's by e-mail. And, I never let a parent say a word during an LS. Combine all of these and you reduce the chances of a "Parent From Hell" catching you.

4. Being influenced by ESPN is easy to rectify. Without their parents to support their potential Hot Dog, non-fundamentally sound skills behavior, most potential showoffs will settle back down and follow your direction, especially when they are faced with suicides as an alternative.

3. Refer back to #5 for the solution to "wanna-be coach parents".

2. Ear boogers are tricky things. If you have a kid who won't listen, hand them a phone and tell them to call their parents to come and get them. They can explain to their parents why. Then tell them to bring back a doctor's excuse verifying they have an incurable case of ear boogers. Without this excuse, they are not allowed to come back until they apologize to you and the whole team for disrupting the LS. Also cutting playing time works.

1. To have nine months to forget what you already taught them once is a hard one. You need patience, lots and lots of patience. They will relearn everything relatively quickly. Just don't expect a lot immediately and you won't be disappointed.

Folks, my job is to help you survive your second year. It's the personal side of the game that gets to you and makes you crazy. You have all heard of the term "nuts and bolts." Drills and X's and O's are the "bolts." The personal side of the game is the "nuts," short for nutso. I hope these seven steps to survival helps. Now lets go on to the next chapter and deal with some bolts.

Remember there are more chapters to come.

Copyright by Ed Riley, Steve Jordan, Darrell Garrison and Steve MacKinney. All rights reserved

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