Agree to Disagree
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
The one where you don't see eye to eye with the head coach.
While I try to keep my posts more positive I thought this was a super important topic to write about because I genuinely see this happen all the time and it manifests itself in either one (or even a combination) of three things.
1. From a Player's Perspective
This is a tricky one because there are so many things that come into play, but I think there is an appropriate way to handle MOST instances when this is the case and it is as follows:
You are a player, not a coach. You will not always see eye to eye with your coaches, but usually they see and understand more than you do, so have some trust and respect for them and their decisions. If you have a question or don't understand something that is taking place within your team, set a meeting or phone call with the coach and have a mature and level-headed discussion.
This is one I see a lot: "I have an issue with the coach over playing time." While there are many instances where this has something to do with some sort of discrimination, I've found that a lot of athletes just have a very unrealistic view of themselves.
a.k.a -- they think they are WAY better than they actually are.
As a player it is pertinent that you become extremely self-aware, and while you shouldn't shy away from other athletes that are "better" than you it's important to understand where you fall on the team. Different athletes have different roles, and sometimes the role the team needs you to play isn't always the most glamorous.
Again, schedule a time to chat with your coach to not only see why you might not be happy, but work together to find some solutions and get their honest feedback about what you can do on your own to take initiative.
2. From a Parent's Perspective
Working the club lacrosse circuit I've had to deal with this A LOT. I can't tell you how many families we've seen who, for lack of a better term, blow sunshine up their kid's butts all the time, and we have to (uncomfortably) help them to take of the mom/dad goggles, take a step back, and have a more accurate view of certain situations.
This gets really tricky, and every organization handles it differently. Here at TEAM Lacrosse Academy, we believe that, regardless of how uncomfortable the conversation might be, it's in the best interest of the athlete for us to be open and honest and set realistic expectations. We also strive to team independence, communication, and mental toughness to our athletes, so we try to remind parents to encourage their kids to take on the responsibility of communicating with us if/when there is an issue. We remind parents that dollars invested do not equate to gained skill and that they need to remember that each and every athlete learns at their own pace.
We've come to a head with parents over many different topics, but the most common time we see parents disagreeing with coaches is over recruiting.
I've had a lot of moms and dads tell me that little Suzie is bound for a full ride at UNC or Duke or Maryland or one of the other top 10 division schools in the country, just because she's a standout player on our roster. Don't get me wrong, I've had a lot of Suzie's, extremely talented, motivated and hard working, even does well in the classroom and has a great college resume. However, setting that expectation for her is going to ultimately ruin the sport and the experience when that inevitably doesn't happen. Enter Coach Katie.
Now, every family is different so sometimes dealing with parents can go in all different kinds of directions. I've had parents who are extremely receptive, I have also had parent's scream at me when I tell them this:
"Suzie is X years of age and just beginning this recruiting journey. Does she know what she wants to study? How far away from home is she willing to go? Have you discussed as a family what you can afford financially? Has she even been on a college campus to get an idea of look/feel/environment? Does she want a big school or small school? etc..."
Most of the time I get a deer in the headlights look because they haven't even started to consider all of these questions. So I advise them to take a few weeks/months (depending on Suzie's age) and tell them to sit down with her, do some research, and make a list.
The list should be divided into three parts and cannot be lacrosse related:
"Must Haves": these are things she CANNOT live without.
"Would like to Haves": these are things she would really like to see but it's not a total bust if the right school doesn't have it.
"Can live withouts": these are things that would be a bonus if they were there but they aren't decision making factors.
After this list is made, I THEN send the family to start researching schools. I have found that through this process they usually weed out unrealistic lacrosse schools on their own.
Without falling down into the recruiting process habit hole, this is just an example of a situation where parents and coaches can butt heads at times. Parents are adults and sometimes with a little guidance they too can start to see the big picture. Again, honesty and open communication is the best policy in these situations. Remind them that they are paying you for your expertise and knowledge in the field and that you have their child's best interest at heart.
3. Assistant or other Coaches Perspective
I've been both a Head and Assistant Coach and I've had the pleasure of working with some amazing and knowledgeable coaches. I will tell you right now in the beginning of this section that I have disagreed with each and every single one of them at some point in time.
Again, just as there are with the other perspectives we discussed, there are a multitude of situations in which this can go down. Her are a few good rules of thumb to get through it:
Always present a united front with the team -- Whether you and the head coach are together or not, always have each other's backs. This is CRITICAL with team dynamics. Things can get really nasty and ruin a team if this starts to fall apart.
Be organized and prepared -- Make sure you go into every practice/training session with a common goal(s), strategy, and execution plan. Talk it out BEFORE you get on the field with the girls. This way you are both rolling into practice knowing exactly how it should go down.
Get to know each other -- Take an interest in each other beyond the team. This will initiate a new level of respect and a better understanding of the other's thought process.
Understand intention -- Even though you might not always agree with a situation try not to take it personally if your (seemingly better) suggestion isn't taken. If you know that the head coach has the player's and team's best interest at the center of her decision making, sometimes you just have to trust that.
All in all, have and show respect, communicate your thoughts appropriately, work together to find solutions, have an open mind, and understand that you aren't always right.