Like any coach before a game, I carefully think about what I am going to say to the players to help them play to the best of their ability. I talk about what our goals are for the game as a team and individually. It is important to make sure all the players are on the same page in that respect. Then I try to motivate the players and have an impact on their mindsets before stepping on to the field. My goal is to get the kids motivated to play and excited about the game. In the past, I have talked about working hard, giving it your best, you are the better team, you have to earn it today, and other things my coaches use to say to me. I now realize that my approach may not have been the best thing for the players before the start of a game. Reviewing the team’s goals for the game is always important and should be part of every pregame talk with the players. This is a critical part of getting players ready to play and connecting the week’s practice sessions to what you want to see the players attempt during the game. This will always be part of what I talk about before a game with any team. It is the next part that I have fallen short over the years with my players. I was just doing what my coaches used to do and what I see in the movies. For example, “Miracle” is one of my favorite movies of all time and the pregame speech before the game against the Soviets is my favorite scene of any movie. There was an important element to that speech that I have missed before and I now include in every pregame speech. Coach Brooks says, “It is your time.” Although he may have meant it in a different way, it highlights something missing in my instructions to my players in the past. Simply, it is about them. It is their time. The game is their time. It is their time to be kids, be players, compete, have fun, succeed, or fail. In the end, it is just about them. This seems obvious, as “it is about the kids” is about as cliché as it gets, but how often do coaches...
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