I am conducting my post season player meetings - I like to have a large block of time after the conclusion of the season to decompress and not let my emotional hangover from a long campaign influence my evaluations and feedback provided to my players.
To summarize my biggest frustration from this past year, and the feedback from the players, is team drama. As of late, and maybe it is just my team but I keep getting the same feedback from friends in the coaching community and from the readers of this blog, but the prevalence of team drama is just ruining good seasons and good experiences.
I can't say if it is just a cyclical thing, or a residue of the club mentality (common excuse for spoiled, entitled athletes), or I have not paid enough attention during the recruiting process, or us coaches are not stamping out instances of this occurring or we are just hoping it eventually goes away like a bad cold. Whatever the reason, I am just amazed by how immature and self absorbed so many college volleyball players have become.
Seems like the reality show drama of the season is more important than winning and losing. The she said this and she said that, and she looked me this way or made this face, overwhelms the responsibility of focusing on team success. Trying to manage such situations as a coach, without becoming an overt dictator, is like being a pre-school teacher - I swear the same things kids say in pre-school are said in the beefs and griefs which college players have with each other.
Unfortunately, the old saying that one bad apple can ruin the barrel is correct. All it takes is one dramatic, immature, selfish player to start (unconsciously many times) pushing the buttons of other players to create this chain effect like one ping pong ball setting off all the mouse traps.
I wish I had the correct answer about how to fix this as a coach and I find myself trying to balance being heavy handed, with trying to treat my players as young adults, but either way, it is very frustrating. As unsupportive as this will sound, I am now leaning towards just moving players off the team that even put a toe across the team drama line. It is tough enough to win high level matches, and to try and do so with a fractured, drama laden team is nearly impossible.
If you are a college coach reading this, cut out the bruise before it ruins the fruit. No spoiled SA, no matter how talented of a player, is worth a good, happy season. We don't get paid enough to manage drama for wins.
If you are a player reading this, do not waste a day on drama. You only have the briefest of windows to play elite level volleyball and once that window is closed, it never opens up again ever. Focus on the success of the team, focus on what positive physical and verbal actions you can provide, and do not support or accept negative, selfish behavior from any on the program. No argument or slight or pettiness is worth the sacrifice of this time of gold. It is clearly a conscious decision to support or encourage team drama.
If you are a parent reading this, use your influence to guide your daughter in being a positive team mate. Do not tolerate those actions on and off the court which you know are not positive and team oriented. You are the adult, you know when your daughter shoots someone the stink eye, you know when your daughter is whispering trash about her team mates, you are the one who needs to step up and shut it down because when your daughter gets to college, the college coach will shut it down by removing her from the team. Don't expect your club coach to do this, she/he is watching 12+ athletes, while you are really only focusing on one!
Long rant, but I just cannot stand the drama.