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Johnp2

End Of And Era

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Over the last two fall seasons, I've had a few players elect to play tackle. I understand this, and have actually supported them...as they all come back in the spring and summer seasons. In fact, our players will go watch them play tackle, they will come to our flag games, some of them even attend our end of season parties, etc.

I also have a lot of "day one" players...those who have played with me every season I've coached. One of them has been on every teamI've ever coached (regardless of sport).

His mom emailed me the other day and informed me he decided not to play football this season. Ugh!! Just a few weeks ago she told me he was going to play--so this came from left field. There are two downsides to this. First, he is by far our best player. In fact, he might be considered the best player in our league. Most of you are aware of my philosphy (no one player carries the team), but losing a player like this downgrades our team substantially.

More importantly, however, is the fact that this is the one kid I never dreamed I would not coach. In fact, had I known he was not going to play, I would have seriously considered not coaching (it's pretty much like if my own son decided not to play).

I responded and asked if everything is okay, and she told me he is just going through a "phase" and does not want to play. I'm going to talk to the player and his parents this weekend. I know his parents want him to play so he's probably under some pressure from them. I'm not going to give him a guilt trip or anything, but I do want him to look me in the eye and tell me he does not want to play. There have been times before where they have asked me to talk with him about things "as his coach"...and he's been very responsive to it.

If he says he does not want to play, I will respect that. I do expect him to to come out and watch HIS team play some this season, and I will have an extra jersey on hand in the event he wants to take the field. I realize some of you may frown on that, but he is a "lifetime" teammate and I would do that for any of them regardless of talent-level.

So...question to some of you coaches long in the tooth whom have had "career players". If one of them elected not to play for some strange reason, would you take a stab at talking some sense into him? As mentioned, I'm not going to try and convince him to play but I do expect him to tell me what's going on.

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How close are you to the parents? I would first get their permission to speak with him and then without a doubt approach him gently. Sounds like you guys have a good rapport, so if you have a frank discussion about his objections to playing you may be able to bring him back in if you make some changes. I had a similar situation where the parents where just "crazy" from the sideline and put HUGE pressure on the kid outside of games as he was the QB. His take was that he was "sick" of playing QB but I was able to decipher the real reason when speaking with him. The end result was that I had to move him to another position and spoke to the parents about the change for him and asked for their support, again "gently". He naturally gravitated back to the QB from time to time, but the change did great as the parents cooled off. I suspect they were as stressed about their player blowing a play as QB as the QB was.

You have invested alot of time, get the parents permission and get to the bottom of the reasons why he does not want to play. I bet you that kid really does want to play and with some assurances and changes, you can get him back into the mix.

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How close are you to the parents? I would first get their permission to speak with him and then without a doubt approach him gently.

Thanks for your reply. I am actually very close to the parents--as well as his grandparents. As mentioned, he is like a second son to me--more so than any player I've ever coached.

Ironically, my wife told me she talked with him the other day at school--and he was excited about the upcoming football season, so something has transpired. Not sure what--but I'm going to find out. I'll probably leave details out...as the main point to this thread was to 1) vent, and 2) see if any of you have ever run into a situation like this, and if so how you handled it.

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In fact, had I known he was not going to play, I would have seriously considered not coaching (it's pretty much like if my own son decided not to play).
Knowing your style, I'm betting you would've coached anyway. You wouldn't deprive the other kids and parents of experiencing a quality season of football.
So...question to some of you coaches long in the tooth whom have had "career players". If one of them elected not to play for some strange reason, would you take a stab at talking some sense into him? As mentioned, I'm not going to try and convince him to play but I do expect him to tell me what's going on.
If I knew the parents like you do and received their permission to talk with him, yes, I would talk with him. How far I pushed it would be another matter.

I've never had a "career player" decide not to play just for the heck of it. A few have opted out for competitive soccer though.

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The mother asked me to talk with him as she and her husband really want him to play. I spoke with him and gave him a little speech about how he only has so many opportunities to play football in life--and wanted him to understand what he's leaving on the table. While he's probably the best player in our league, he's also probably the smallest player in our league--meaning I doubt he'll go far in tackle unless he grows considerably. His parents are both very tall--so I assume he'll sprout up soon.

I think there is something with his height that is bothering him. When I first started coaching him he was one of the tallest kids on our team...now he is easily the shortest. He said he's tired of playing against kids much older and bigger than he is...even though he simply runs WILD on them. In the end he decided not to play..and I respect that. I know he'll be coming out to our games and I will get an extra jersey in the event he wants to jump in and play.

I know the coaches in our league are going to be estatic. In one game last season, after this player got his first carry (for an amazing TD), I overheard a parent say to the coach, "Wow! That kid is unbelievable...does that coach give it to him a lot?" The coach said, "Nah...only when he needs a touchdown". Ha!

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We had our team together for a number of seasons. We became so popular that I was turning kids away. Then, when we hit around 10 years old, a couple of players decided not to play. I was quite surprised. First you think you did something wrong and then you wonder what's going on. What I've found is that each kid has their own deal, own family dynamics, own issues. These are kids I've known for years and know the parents often very well also.

Here is a list of the kids I had lost (names withheld) and why:

Kid 1: He was my best QB and the best free safety. His dad coached him in basketball and was obsessed with it. The kid played in 3 basketball leagues at once and often played up. I think he liked football but his dad convinced him to concentrate exclusively on basketball at the age of 8.

Kid 2: A decent player and long-time friend. When he dropped football I was stunned. I did a lot of inquiring and in a nutshell the dad had been pushing the kid to play baseball, basketball, football whatever. But the kid really never seemed to have an interest in them. He's a decent athlete and does well enough when he's out there. But the dad told me it's like pulling teeth to get him motivated for anything. So he decided he wasn't going to push him any longer. And the kid gave up football.

Kid 3: One of my QBs and a fierce competitor who is good at every sport. I can't wait til this kid starts growing because he's a little chubby and average in height. But his dad is 6'2" and his mother is 6'0" and he's probably going to be a giant. I was definitely sad to lose him. But he wanted to play with his school soccer team and they required a lot of his time. He's now on my son's lacrosse team.

I always inquire and like to know whats going on with my boys. You talked about trying to convince them into playing but I don't think that should be your role. Respect the kids and the parents decisions. If they ask you to try to convince the kid, that's different I suppose, but strange. I would never give them the hard sell if at all. Tell them you'll miss them, they are welcome any time on your team and wish them luck.

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You talked about trying to convince them into playing but I don't think that should be your role. Respect the kids and the parents decisions. If they ask you to try to convince the kid, that's different I suppose, but strange. I would never give them the hard sell if at all. Tell them you'll miss them, they are welcome any time on your team and wish them luck.

Apologies for not being more clear (but I believe the following is explicit above in earlier posts): his parents asked me to speak with him, and I did not try to 'convince' him to play--but instead wanted to know why--and simply wanted him to appreciate his opportunity to play (as most kids don't get that opportunity). I also noted that I did not give him the 'hard sell' but instead completely respected his decision.

As for it 'strange' that his parents asked me to speak to him, I can see how you might think that, but I have to respectfully disagree. These people are family friends. Meaning our families socialize outside of football. In fact--because I've coached him for so long--there have been other times his parents have asked me to talk with him "as his coach". I don't view speaking with a family friend's son at their request, one who is great friends with my own son, and one whom I've coached as long as my own son as "not my role". Quite the opposite, actually. We put relationship building and team dynamics (meaning parents and players) above anything else--and we support each other anyway we can.

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