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12 Rules For Preseason - Part II

5.) Do Not Let Your Children (Players) Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them

“It is an act of responsibility to discipline a child. It is not anger at misbehavior. It is not revenge for a misdeed. It is instead a careful combination of mercy and long-term judgment. Proper discipline requires effort- indeed, is virtually synonymous with effort”

We all have different coaching styles. Some of us have very strict team rules, while others are more lenient with player conduct. Regardless of style, how do we react when our players misbehave or disrespect a staff member?

For 99% of us, we will be working with players who do not make it to the pro level, so we are not just teaching them how to play the game better, we are also teaching them how to succeed at life. If you allow your players to turn up 10 minutes late for training with no consequences, you are setting them up for failure in their future careers.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a task master and discipline every little thing, but many of the best teams that I was ever a member of did a great job of policing themselves.

This ties back into your team meeting and having goals with roadmaps. It is much more effective for players to police themselves and in a manner that is in line with team goals than for a coach to have to do it.

“The fundamental moral question is not how to shelter children completely from misadventure and failure, so they never experience any fear or pain, but how to maximize their learning so that useful knowledge may be gained with minimal cost”

6.) Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World

“Consider your circumstances. Start small. Have you taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to you? Are you working hard on your career, or are you letting bitterness and resentment hold you back and drag you down.”

Maybe your current coaching opportunity is your dream job. Maybe it isn’t. If it isn’t, do you still treat it like your dream job, or is it like a 9-5, where the clock out can’t come soon enough?

What small change could you make to your daily routine that would get you a step closer to your dream job?

You could make sure that the training field is always set up prior to any players arriving. You could give players honest and consistent feedback on their performancs and their role within the team. You could listen to player feedback on their overall well-being and how they are finding your training load and style.

It’s much easier for players to get in line and follow behind a coach who leads by example and allows his or her actions to do the talking.

“If you cannot bring peace to your own household, how dare you try to rule a city”

7.) Pursue What Is Meaningful (Not What is Expedient)

“There is no faith and no courage and no sacrifice in doing what is expedient. There is no careful observation that actions and presuppositions matter, or that the world is made of what matters. To have meaning in your life is better than to have what you want, because you may neither know what you want, nor what you truly need. Meaning is something that comes upon you, of its own accord."

What could we classify as something that is meaningful and something that is expedient in the soccer world?

An expedient result could be winning a game by having to start a player you had originally suspended for a team rules violation. In the moment, the result seems to be the only thing that matters. But something that is meaningful could be having an overall successful season, and focusing on only the short-term result could be jeopardized if you lose the locker room as a result.

Another example of something expedient could be only focusing on isolated running to improve fitness during preseason with 2 and 3 sessions per day. While you may get the short term fitness that you desire, how will this help in 3 months time when all teams are fit, and results are dictated much more heavily by who has the healthier squad and the best team playing style? Was it worth losing 8 players to injuries in preseason in order to quickly get your team fit?

Maybe an expedient result is winning games early on in the season at the cost of losing your team identity, and not playing players who you may need come the end of the season. You must always balance your short term and long-term goals to ensure they are in balance.

“Meaning signifies that you are in the right place, at the right time, properly balanced between order and chaos, where everything lines up as best it can at that moment.”

8.) Tell the Truth – Or, At Least, Don’t Lie

“Truth will not come in the guise of opinions shared by others, as the truth is neither a collection of slogans nor an ideology. It will instead be personal. Your truth is something only you can tell, based as it is on the unique circumstances of your life.”

When you talk to your players, do you tell them the honest truth, or what you think they want to hear to avoid hurting their feelings?

There has to be a balance of course, and sometimes you don’t need to say everything that is on your mind (There is a time and a place for everything), but the locker room needs to know that you speak the truth to them.

Some things need to be said in private instead of publicly, but your actions need to line up with your words. If you are always praising a player in training, and then you never play them in a match, your actions are telling the rest of the team that training really isn’t that important.

Your actions and words also need to be in line with your beliefs and core playing philosophy. If your game model is based on possession and playing short intricate passes while building out of the back, but you always play the center back who goes direct, how will the players buy into your philosophy?

“Tell the truth. Or, at least, don’t lie”

Part III coming soon!

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