I wonder if there ever was a time when coaches didn't say, "Kids these days aren't as tough as they used to be." Maybe when football was invented, coaches would yell at players during practice and say, "Back when I was kid, we didn't have football- we just worked in field all day with no play time at all! You kids are lucky to be participating in football- no run 8,000 gas-ers!"
Well, it seems like we are, more and more, living in a day and age where coaches are handcuffed and only allowed to use positive reinforcement. How is a kid supposed to learn that, in life and on the field, that there are going to be hard times that won't always be positive? Given great coaching, it will be easier for them to succeed during times of adversity.
With the recent firings of Mark Mangino and the weird situation going on with Mike Leach at Texas Tech, I'm here to help! Coaches can still bring their players to the brink of sanity without getting fired. How you ask? Well, here are a few ways:
1) What is wrong with running? Coaches seem to think kids/players are immune to running. It's pretty much the easiest form of acceptable punishment you can possibly use. You can make a player run all day instead of practicing. Chances are, they will eventually quit or buy into what you're selling. Either way, the problem is dealt with. There is also the tactic of making the team run while the slacker gets to watch. That works to bond the team together, and forces the slacker to pick it up or get exiled from the team by the other players. Who needs to lock a player in a utility closet? That's just plain silly.
2) No personal attacks that border (or jump completely into) racism. Mark Mangino was accused of telling a kid, "If you don't work harder, I'll send you back to the ghetto to get shot." Whoa, buddy! Only say stuff like that if you want to get fired. I'm sure there are personal attacks that you can use about him being soft or not caring about the team. Never go into someone's background to attack them if you'd like to keep your job.
3) Take parents into consideration. One reason I don't coach (and it might be the biggest reason) is that I don't want to deal with the parents. If you are a college coach, you not only can recruit players based on their talent and character, you can recruit them based on how annoying you think their parents will be. There's a certain amount of catering you'll have to do with every player, but if you think the parents just want a reason to complain, then pass on the kid. One talented kid is no reason to ruin your program or have you lose your job.
4) Any difficult activity you do, make sure it is directly related to the game. Don't starve players. Don't lock them up and confine them. Don't choke them or throw chairs at them. However, by all means, run the players to death. Bring them to a steep hill and make them run up with weights. Make the players do arduous physical team-building exercises that can always be linked back to you making the team better. There is a big difference between making players do difficult things and assaulting them because you're a frustrated coach. Always remember that.
5) Have fun. Too many coaches forget that ultimately their sport is a game. Their livelihood is on the line so many coaches stress out and get chest pains (Urban Meyer.) They can't remember why they started coaching in the first place. Love the game you coach and enjoy it. Being a coach is inherently frustrating, you can't always have self-motivators like Tim Tebow, so keep that in mind while you're going through every day operations. Part of the joy of being a coach is seeing players grow and mature, and that doesn't happen overnight. There's no reason to lock them in a closet or physically assault because of that. Enjoy yourself as well, coach!
So there you go. Push your players, but don't get fired. Easy, right? It's probably as easy as not growing to weigh 350+ lbs. but Mark Mangino couldn't do that, so why would anyone expect him to coach any better?