As coaches we get young players from so many different backgrounds and at different levels of development. We have to teach them so many things on the court but we also can have a dramatic impact off the court. I have evaluated my players in 6 different areas and have gone through the evaluation with them. I was amazed to see how many university athletes can’t see past supper time! It is probably much worse at the lower levels.
Most players don't have a plan for many things in their life. They are just rolling along. I think we need to a better job as coaches in educating younger players about identifying long term goals and the process to reach them. They still have to be kids and enjoy their youth but they need to think in a more elite manner. As coaches we need to plan the seed in their heads about where they can go as people and athletes and then help it grow.
Placing kids in "set in stone" roles early in their development hampers them. I think that once you plant the seed you need to help it along. The fertilizer is the positive comments and guidance received from coaches. Many kids have confidence issues which I have likened to weeds in your garden. If you don't tend to it everyday i.e. work on developing the individual, then the garden will get messy. We have to work as coaches to rid the weeds or it will stunt their growth.
How do we do that? Identifying when players might be struggling and chat with them in a positive manner. It may be that the challenge is too high for their skill level. It could be an external force acting upon them. Whatever it is, as coaches we are responsible for helping them be "weed free".
I know it sounds corny but we have to tend to the garden better as coaches.
Help the kids discover how good they can be, plant the seed, fertilize it and weed the garden daily. You never know which little seed could be the prettiest flower in the world.