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RedBaron

How To Deal With "we Can't"

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We were 5-1-1 going into today's game. We played a very good team. No one doubted they were good, but, so many kids in our league act like this team is made up of NFL players, or something.

We got down two scores early and it started... "we can't win this game". We cut it to a one score game, then gave up another td. Guess what I heard... "This game is over". It was midway through the first half.

At halftime, I had had enough. I flat out told them, if I heard anyone else say the game was over or we couldn't win, I did not want them on my defense. They could see the offensive coach about playing time and if he wanted them, great, if not, then I guess they wouldn't be playing.

I then backed up about ten feet and said the first 6 kids who get to me are on defense. I got six exactly. Funny thing was, the two kids who thought we were beat, came running. I liked that.

The second half was a 2 td to 1 game and one of those scores came when we all out blitzed on the first play of the series going for the safety or turnover (all posessions start from the five except ints). Even on that one, we had good positioning on the outside, the runner just made a good move.

I think they realize they partially beat themselves. I looked back on the other scores, we gave up 2 on third down (which is the last down in the series) one of those came after two stops inside the five. The other came on a pass play that went right where I told the defense it was going and no one broke on the ball.

We had another play where the DB and the WR both came down with the ball, the wr wrestled it away and went for about a 50 yard score....throw in a td given up on the first defensive play of the game, because one LB bit on a fake and actually chased a non ball carrier from mid field clear to the sideline and it was really frustrating.

I can live with the biting on the fake, from that position, especially with the defense we were running at the time, we were trying to be aggressive and the line and other backers should have not let him get outside no matter what...

I just get so frustrated when a team does exactly what you know they are going to against you, you put in the plan to stop it and the kids get that deer in the headlight look and freeze. I honsetly don't care if they win or lose, in the big scheme of things, as long as they try and don't quit...they did that in the second half, which I loved...

I guess I was wondering how you guys deal with the "I can't" type of attitude? And how do you prepare them to play against the teams they all think are unbeatable.

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Hey Red,

I call it "negative talk" and agree that it's about as toxic as anything you will have to deal with on the field and I can't think of anything harder to overcome as I think the mental aspect is just as important as the physical. I had a team one season that it was a HUGE problem from Game 1 and given the team was one of the least experienced I could tell it was going to be a tough road ahead. By Game 3 we had it nipped in the bud by doing this:

1.) Take a moment and address the team in practice about it and explain WHY negative talk is not allowed. Keep it brief and make sure you have ALL their attention, especially the troublesome ones because that is who you really are addressing without singling them out.

2.) Call or Email the players parents and politely explain the issue and ask that prior to each game they reinforce what you told them in practice.

3.) Keep the players pumped up, if the other team comes up with a big play address each player with a pat on the back and encouragement. They really just need reassurance that everything is going to be okay.

I was lucky in that the parents stepped up to the plate and by Game 3 there was not a single ounce of negative talk and in fact the players began to encourage each other. Good Luck!

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You just have to instill that swagger/cant lose mentality.I always talk my kids up and let them know we are going into the game the better team and we'll prove it.Kids like knowing the fact that there coach believes in them but also expects them to be the best & play there hardest.Positive reenforcement would probably be your best bet here

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I guess I was wondering how you guys deal with the "I can't" type of attitude? And how do you prepare them to play against the teams they all think are unbeatable.

I think you handled it the right way. Just keep making a big deal out of this in practice this week, and see how they respond the next time they are faced with it.

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I agree and would do the same thing. Before and during every game I say something like this, "boys, win or lose it does not matter. It's how hard we play. Fight for every yard, every flag, every down. Play your hearts out and nobody will take that away from you. It's not what is on the scoreboard but the self satisfaction of knowing that you gave all that you had." I constantly urge maximum effort whether we are up by 20 or down by 30. Frankly I don't even care if they make mistakes, its when they slack off and play half speed that riles me up. I tell my newer players, "don't worry about making mistakes, you're new it'll happen. But whatever you do I want you flying around out there, don't sit back timidly, play full speed and if you make a mistake make a big one. You'll make less with more experience but you should always play full speed."

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