I learned as a head coach that your team will be at it’s best if you let the individual personalities of your players shine through. You have to let the players be themselves. Of course they have to fit into the structure of your culture. But I think if you let the quiet keeps stay quiet and go about their business, and let the energy guys bring the noise, you’ll get the most out of everyone. Let the players be true to their personality and you will get the most out of them.
This is not without it’s challenges, however. What do you do with the guy who is a joker? Who’s always goofing around, makes funny comments, and keeps the team loose? We’ve all had those guys on our team. There are times when you need everyone to be serious, and this guy toes that line a lot. He may laugh at the wrong time or bring up a joke when it’s not appropriate.
We all want our teams to take what we do seriously and show great focus, but we also value when they are loose. I think your team needs to laugh with you at times during the season. If the clown makes a funny comment during a film session, and the team starts to laugh, it’s okay to laugh with them. Your team will realize it’s not life and death. We can take this seriously while still having fun.
We had great teams at Rhode Island College with guys who were committed, serious and focused. But we always had a guy or two on the team who was a clown. He kept things loose, whether it’s making a joke during the scouting report or saying something funny during shell drill. Just because someone makes a joke doesn’t mean your team isn’t taking things seriously enough. Sometimes it’s the best remedy to break the tension.
You are going to have a guy or two on each team who are clowns. Just like you have a guy or two who takes things way too seriously, or a couple of guys who are just all business. Don’t stifle what they do. They are all important to the personality of your team. If the clown makes a joke at the wrong time, don’t hammer him. Just clip it quickly, by saying “Ok, enough, let’s lock in here.”
If a kid has a great, funny personality, embrace and make it fit within what you are trying to do. I guarantee you’ll get a lot more out of that kid than if you try and make him be seriously all the time.