Sunday, December 11, 2011

I find recruiting disheartening.

A very nice man who coaches at our club has lost a bunch of his players to a “higher level” team in the next town.  It’s a shame because this coach is a quality individual who runs an organized program.  Our players need role models and he is a good one.  He found new players to take their spots and is moving forward but it’s still discouraging that the girls left en masse.  They did not leave for a dislike of their coach, they just think they’re moving up.

If there is one thing I am looking forward to with the implementation of LTPD, it’s the possible/inevitable decrease in recruiting at young ages.  Recruiting starts at U8 and gets worse from there.

Decent players are being lured away from good coaches by recruiters who are promising their team will “clean up” with trophies.  There are stories in Niagara of teams paying for a player’s registration and in Toronto of gas money being paid.  CRAZY.

I don’t recruit and I don’t stop people from recruiting my players.  Hey, if you think the grass is greener somewhere else, here’s your card.  If you come back the following year, no hard feelings, but you will have to try out.  Either way, I enjoyed coaching you and I wish you all the best. 

The player's happiness is paramount so if I know a player is unhappy, I would help their parents find a situation to satisfy the player's needs.  But that's a different topic.

"Recruiting starts at U8 and gets worse from there."

My goal is to have the program speak for itself.

Parents who are being lured need to ask themselves some questions:

1.     If the coach already has a team and promises you a spot, who is getting bumped?  Will you get bumped when that same coach finds a player better than your child?

2.     If your child plays for a recruiter, do you not wonder what that recruiter promised the new kid?  How does the treatment of the new player compare to the treatment of the players already on that team?

3.     If you left your team for greener grass and you are not happy, how do you explain to the next prospective coach that you are looking for your third team in three years?

4.     Are you prepared for your original coach/club to not take your child back?  Maybe the spot was filled by another player who is too nice or too good to bump.

5.     If you were unhappy with your last coach, how do the parents of your new team know you will not be unhappy on their team?

6.     Have you ever watched your prospective coach during a game or run a practice? 

In 23 years I’ve lost one player to active recruiting.  And that was OK.  I’ve only engaged in recruiting a player once, who was a new player on our B team about 6 years back.  He was an out-of-town player, had an attendance issue with us and didn’t play much.  But if I had played him to appease/endear him it would have caused the rest of my team to implode.  He was treated like everybody else and ended up leaving the following year.  My first and hopefully last experience with that kind of recruiting.  I will say he was a great kid and I do regret not having a full season to work with him.

My middle son switched teams 5 years ago and played there for three years.  We were not recruited.  He asked for a change of scenery, he knew a lot of the boys on the team in St Catharines and played there.  It was a good experience with little pressure.

I don’t judge recruiters or parents looking for a better situation.  I think if more investigative type questions were asked by both sides, far less recruiting would happen, or at least far less uninformed recruiting.

I know people who are gifted coaches and great people and switching to them would be justifiable if the situation was right.  It's the recruiters who offer very little other than a team of recruited players that irk me. 

A last thought ... my friends who are gifted coaches and great people don't really need to recruit as the players migrate to them naturally.