What are you entitled to?
Posted by Dean Holden at March 15th, 2013
by Kim McCullough, M.Sc, YCS, 6 March 2013
If you read any recent articles and books about raising kids, the issue of entitlement comes up. By far the best book I’ve read on this subject is “The Entitlement Trap.”
And while it is more of a parenting book, I found it had some awesome insights into developing today’s young athletes that I can definitely use as a coach.
It seems that now, more than ever, players and kids feel entitled to have what they want when they want it – no questions asked. It’s like they think the world owes them something and they don’t need to put in the time and effort to get what they want. I know that not all kids are like this. But I have seen more and more players like this in recent years.
I’ve spoken to many players over the years who are frustrated that their teammates don’t seem to have the desire, drive and hunger to do whatever it takes to succeed on the ice. And I’ve also heard from many coaches who really struggle to get all of their players to “buy in” to the team game plan.
Let’s be honest, there is probably one or more players on your team this year who don’t put in the work but expect to reap all the rewards that everyone else gets. They think they are owed equal ice and opportunity even though they are going through the motions.
The irony of this is that one of the driving forces behind an entitled player feeling like they are “owed” something is that they don’t feel ownership of what they are a part of.
I’ll give you a simple example. Growing up, my mom used to get on my case constantly about keeping my room clean (it honestly wasn’t that bad). So when I bought my first house a few years back and she came over to visit, she was surprised at how clean it was. The reason is simple – I took great pride in keeping my place clean because I actually owned it. When you own something, you usually don’t take it for granted.
Now let’s be clear – ownership doesn’t necessarily mean that you bought something.
According to the authors of “The Entitlement Trap,” ownership can be felt in three ways:
1. By working FOR something: When players have to work hard to earn ice time (and they are rewarded for it), they are sure to feel more ownership of that success. At this time of year, coaches may reward hard-working, disciplined players with more penalty kill time or the opportunity to be on the ice to protect a one goal lead when there is less than a minute left.
2. By working ON something: Let’s say your team works hard on a new defensive zone system or a new set-up on the power play and you use that system to beat an opponent that you’ve never come close to defeating before.
3. By working WITH something: Every team has issues that pop up between teammates throughout the year. Whether it happens on the ice or off the ice, issues between teammates can be destructive within the team setting. If instead of taking sides, ignoring the problem or having the coach deal with it exclusively, the team works WITH each other to resolve the problem, they are likely to feel a great deal more ownership of the success of the team in the long run.
Notice that all of these involve doing WORK. Nothing worth having ever comes easy.
All of the above points are examples of players working together as a team. When you do the WORK, you feel more OWNERSHIP which then leads to you taking more RESPONSIBILITY for the success of the team.
And isn’t that we all want as coaches and parents?
We want our kids and players to take responsibility for their own success. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to help them along the way, but when a player works for ownership and takes responsibility, they are very unlikely to show signs of entitlement.
Ownership must be earned, not given. When players feel ownership of and take responsibility for the success of the team, it increases their self-confidence, self-discipline and their self-motivation. And these are exactly the things that we all want our players and kids to have.
Entitlement is an issue that can arise in any aspect of a young player’s life. Hopefully, their experiences being part of a true team, who WORKS together for what they want as a group, will help them take the ownership and responsibility that will translate into on the ice, in the classroom and in life in general.
Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS, is an expert in the development of aspiring female hockey players. She is a former NCAA Division I captain at Dartmouth and played in the National Women’s Hockey League for six years. She is currently the Girls Hockey Director at the PEAC School for Elite Athletes in Toronto and is the Founder of Total Female Hockey.