The success of any team is dependent on The Gap. If The Gap between your best player and your worst player is very small, odds are you are going to compete at a decent level as long as your in the right competition bracket conducive to your team. If The Gap between your best player and your worst player is the size of the Grand Canyon, you’re going to have problems.
Every player on the team needs coaching. Too often, when drills are catered to one half of The Gap, the other half of the team are the only ones that end up being coached. For instance, if the drill of the day is catered to the top half of the team, coaches will go mental on the players that he or she feel is holding the group back or “killing the session.” Meanwhile, the best player makes the same exact mistake and squeaks by without a peep or correction from the coach. I can find out a lot about a coach just by watching them interact with the best players. If number eighteen on the roster does the exact same mistake as number one but is treated differently, you just lost that number eighteen player. COACHES, every player on your team watches every move you make.
The solution is very simple. Higher Standards. On every single player. For instance If the top player makes a mistake, they need to know about it, hear about it, and be corrected. If the bottom player makes a mistake, they also need to know about it. Believe me, every player on the roster will feel coached, and will appreciate not feeling like there is anyone that is allowed to slide. They also need to be caught doing something good, often times, it comes the very next time they are on the ball after doing something bad. I learned at a young coaching age that every kid should have their own personal coaching point towards them during every single session. Since learning this tip, I pride myself on making sure that every player that leaves my sessions feels like they were coached, that they learned something, or that they feel that they got better.
I once had a buddy of mine thats a Director of Coaching in another state and is highly regarded in his state. After evaluating my session he said one thing to me, “How are you not exhausted.” I was confused and asked him what he meant by that and he responded, “you coach every single player, almost every single touch, I’d be exhausted if I coached like that.” I was flattered and took it as a compliment. It wasn’t until I read a book called Extreme Ownership written by two former Navy Seals, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, that I really figured out my coaching style and it was summed up in one of the quotes by Babin. “It’s not what you preach, its what you tolerate.” So simple. So important. So lost on many youth coaches. How can you work on a drill where you are stressing one facet of the game, allow your best players to make a mistake multiple times, and not correct it?
When a training session is geared toward everyone improving, The Gap of the team will close. The eighteenth player will feel just as important as the number one player on the team.