Uh-oh! Every coach at the youth-competitive, amateur, and professional level has encountered this reality – A player who expresses that they wish to quit and/or leave the club for another team. As a coach, what do you do in these instances? – Let’s find out.
First and foremost, what is probably going to be most helpful is telling you what you probably should not do in these situations. I’ve seen it so many times as a player and as a coach – Coaches basically begging players to stay, crying at their feet, promising change, and quoting promises of the future. News flash – IT DOESN’T WORK! And, just to be clear, it will never work, long-term, anyhow. You cannot force or coerce someone into doing something that they just do want to do/be a part of. It’s a simple fact.
Think about it like this, if you force someone to do something that they don’t want to do/be a part of, is that person going to maximize their potential and their output? Of course not! Their heart is not in it nor is their mind or their body. When coaches beg for players to stay, in some ways, it’s pathetic.
Now, let me make a clear distinction here – There is a big difference: 1. Coaches who ask players to return/come back/not leave BEFORE they express their feelings = Good. 2. Coaches who beg players to stay AFTER they express that they wish to leave = Bad.
As a coach, you cannot be a desperate person. You have to be a calculated, organized, and adventurous person. There are many players out there who would do anything and everything to play if given the opportunity, so why would you try and hold on to something/someone that just does not want to be involved in your dynamic/set-up at your club?
Seriously, it’s very simple – Here is what to do should a player express that they want to quit/leave the club -> LET THEM GO!
Don’t chase people, don’t beg people, and for goodness sake don’t plead with people only to inevitably deliver empty promises that you just won’t be able to keep. If a player wants to quit or leave, then honour their choice, ask them why they want to quit/leave (if they don’t provide a reason), give your respectful opinion, shake their hand, thank them for their contributions to the club, let bygones be bygones, and move on!
It’s all apart of the coaching journey, isn’t it? You coach athletes who have decided they want to be undertaken by your mentorship & guidance, and whether the athletes’ career comes to an end via retirement or leaving/quitting, you as a coach will have to accept that reality.
I’ve delivered speeches to my players where I have expressed that I wish/hope that they will return for the following season(s). But, ultimately, anyone who has ever played for me and has decided to quit/leave the club will tell you that I respected and honoured their choice and that they were not forced or made to feel that they had to stay at the club. It’s just wrong when coaches do this and it’s also a little bit shocking.
One might argue that “Well, if you don’t say anything to your players in terms of quitting/leaving, then they will think you don’t care”. This is why you make the statement at the very beginning and very end of the year that you hope/wish the players will STAY & RETURN!
As coaches, we have to take the necessary steps and do our due diligence before these matters come about. Every player that I’ve ever coached knows that I cared about them – I didn’t have to make a sympathy case for having them stay at the club or not want to quit. In fact, every year I always make the following statement in one of my many coaching messages -> “We will provide you with the opportunity to experience what it takes to be a good player at this level and beyond. And, if one day you wake up and decide that this isn’t what you want anymore, then we will hold nothing against you and we will honour/respect your choice. Our doors will always be open even after you leave and/or have served your time here”.
Do you see the difference? This isn’t a beg, but rather a demonstration of human decency, in that, as coaches, we are human and completely understand the nature of decision making.
Coaches, the takeaway from this is that you should never beg players to stay if they wish to quit/leave the club. Find someone else who will play for your team’s crest, and believe me, they are out there. Take the proper steps to ensure your players know that you care for them and understand that they will make choices along the way that will be difficult. And at the end of the day, if players decide that they no longer want to play, then hey, wipe your hands clean and move forward. Everything happens for a reason.