As part of our exclusive interview with Bobbie Kelsey – we asked her “What advice would you give to other coaches who desperately need their team to improve?”
Here is her answer:
BK: It is hard these days because kids say they want coaching but they are coddled, they are babies and their parents run to their rescue every time something goes wrong. Coaches do have a harder job these days…the kids haven’t necessarily changed, but the parents have. Old school parents used to kick butt before the coach could! They would never blame the coach for the failings of their child but today parents are always coddling their kid especially when things do not go their way which is not the right thing to teach your child. I do not understand this but times have changed though and it is really baffling to me. What kind of message does that send to their kids?
When I was younger, my parents never did that. When I used to go to my parents with some nonsense saying ‘Tara [my coach] wouldn’t play me’ my parents would say; ‘Did you work hard? Did you stay late, did you come early? Are you doing everything she said, because she is not going to pick you if you dot listen. Ok goodbye!’
I could not run to my parents with some nonsense and the kids now shouldn’t. My message to them is ‘you work harder!’ And that was my message in the press conference, stop blaming others, you are either working hard or you are not. It’s simple. So coaches that need their teams to improve; you have to hold your players accountable. In my programme, we always ask our kids about their own personal goals, ask them to write them down and then talk about what can do to help them accomplish them. After that, we hold them accountable. Once they write their goals down it is out there and it stays there.
Always push them to improve, these kids have to be squeezed…you have to get all the juice out! I say they are like a lemon, I have to squeeze you until I get everything out of you! And then encourage them and love them all the way. Whether they are lovable or not!
You cannot turn your care on or off, you just have to show them the mature way to handle themselves. Especially this particular generation because they are not used to somebody saying ‘you are not good enough!’ ‘you are not working hard’; everybody says to them, hey you are participating that’s great!…No!
Old school is you are either working hard or you are not. You have to be honest with people and stop lying to people. And do not lie to yourself because that is the worst thing you can do in life is to lie to yourself. Other people might lie to you and that is their business, you cannot control that, but do not lie to yourself. Do not say you are working hard when you clearly are not. Do not say you want to really get something and then you do not want to work hard for it. It doesn’t make any sense!
FCN: Have any of your players reacted badly to you saying they haven’t worked hard enough and tried to blame you?!
Oh yes absolutely!! They have! I don’t let them though…I say, ‘I’ll you give me an example…have you come to my office and communicated what you want and what you need?’ Most the time its a ‘no coach’ and I say ‘well then how do I know what you want…I cannot read your mind!’ ‘Have you watched the video?’ …’ no coach’ … ‘ ok well how do you expect to get better if you don’t see what you need to improve on?!’
I just ask them questions, I do not make statements. My questions are ‘have you come early, have you stayed late, have you watched the video’…’no coach’ … Ok well then how do you expect to get better if you don’t get in the gym and ask for my assistance?! I cannot make you do it! Have you grabbed an assistant coach, have you grabbed the practice guys and played one on one?’
Keep asking the players questions and most of the time their answer is no – ‘well then how is that my fault?!’ And then they understand that they cannot blame other people when they haven’t done everything they can do. Players have to have that fire in their gut to be successful in sports or in life….and as a coach my job is to just come and put the lighter fluid on that fire but I cannot make that fire for them…
Also some kids will say ‘I wanna work hard for you coach!’ to which I respond ‘No you don’t, because if you did I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you!’ We just have to be brutally honest with kids but also in a loving and caring way.
Bio: Bobbie Kelsey is the Head Coach to the University of Wisconsin (USA) Women’s Basketball Team. After playing basketball under legendary college coach Tara VanDeveer, Bobbie went on to be Tara’s assistant coach at the University of Stanford for 14 years. Bobbie is now one of the NCAA top women basketball coaches.
In January 2016, Bobbie gained some internet fame as part of a press conference she delivered after her teams loss to Nebraska, went viral. Bobbie addressed the women’s basketball community telling them to work harder and “get their butt in the gym.”
Bobbie’s passion for the game and for coaching shines through in everything she says, so we were very excited to contact Bobbie and speak to her about her coaching career, what coaching advice she had for others and about that infamous press conference… read Bobbie’s full interview HERE