O. HATE MAIL (348)

“TWO COACHING ERRORS
My advice to young coaches is to recruit good kids who are good players who can function academically and be happy in your school.
Perhaps the two biggest errors I see the “young ones” (coaches) make are (1) They insist on recruiting some borderline jerk who is talented. Eventually that star throws the team and the coach “under the bus.” Don’t bet on that guy, Coach! Get you some good people. You’ll win your share and have a fair chance of staying sane in the crazy world of athletics. Secondly, I see the young coaches work the kids too much. Your players are not employees, or machines, and you can run them in the ground. Perhaps the biggest criticism I heard of my teams was that we didn’t work hard enough. But, at tournament time we were fresh, eager and goal oriented. Very often we waxed the “hard workers” whose coach had worn them beyond caring much.
I never had a team that wasn’t ready to put away the racket for a while at the end of the season. It’s call “periodization.”
Above —Excerpt From: Tom Parham. “The Little Green Book of Tennis.” Apple Books.
Twenty years ago I received one of a few “hate letters”.  I was published in a major tennis magazine suggesting a shortened format for college tennis.  The response was a very strong suggestion that I had no idea what I was talking about.  In fairness the staff writer thought I was talking about professional tennis, whose crowds were  setting records.
In the next twenty years college tennis made major changes to shorten the matches, individual and team.  Doubles  first,  pro-sets for doubles points, then standard sets only.  Tiebreakers instead of third sets in singles, and others.  The Australian open, a pro event, shortened its format this year.  Touche!
Things change.  I never had assistant.  taught classes, sold tickets, ran intramurals.  Over forty years I taught over twenty different college courses.  Two teams I coached had only six players.  No subs.  One year  I played the same lineup, singles and doubles, for all twenty three matches.   Now the majors programs have any number helping do the growing number of duties.  And, while the NCAA places a limit on squad numbers, teams carry large rosters. And they need them and the accompanying  trainers and managers because of injury.
In short, all sports are changing due to many factors.  Certainly football is in crisis due to injury all over, but mostly head injury.  Duke basketball got the snake bite this season.  Zion Williamson and “Shoegate” followed by last night’s UNC game and the eerily similar early game injury to  Marques Bolden.
Each sport and level of play might be advised to reconsider how to keep injuries down :  1. For the sake of players and 2. To combat the attrition of team members that cause coaches having to play with “…them who is left standing.”
And there is the third reason of winning.   Players win games, but coaches and administrators make the rules.  Coaches can do a lot by designing programs that yield the best chance of having a full roster when crunch time comes at the end of the season.

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