Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless”

–Jamie Paolinetti

Jamie Paolinetti is one of the best American bicycle racers of all time. After he retired from the sport he went into the commercial film industry. His quote is something that you may want to print out and put on the dashboard of your car so that in times of high stress it is there to guide you. Imagine you are running late. You are in your car and you are never going to get to practice on time.

What to Do When You Are Late to Practice

This is the stuff of youth sports coaching nightmares. You signed up to do this. You might even be getting paid a little bit for the job. The kids are relying on you and their parents are depending on you. If you miss practice for anything less than being stuck in the emergency room you feel the weight of having let everyone down and, worse, personally failing. The bad news is that if you are running late there is already nothing you can do about it, except try to be better organized next time.

Frequently, lateness is uncontrollable. A flat tire, late bus, traffic, accident, or emergency not of your creation get in the way of moving in perfect synchrony from point A to point B in the time you alloted in your day. Sometimes it is your fault, though. You knew you were taking a few minutes longer than you should at lunch, or decided that the time spent to answer a call that required you to be in front of your computer screen would pay off to your career. Or you stopped for an extra few minutes to play with your friends’ adorable new puppy (who can resist a puppy?) and suddenly you missed the window to avoid rush hour or catch the right bus or train. Whether there was anything you could do to control the situation, or choices you could have consciously made better, it is important to remember that no one is perfect and unexpected things happen. This is a lesson that you can impart, in turn, to the kids on your team.

Stuck and Can’t Get to Practice on Time? Use Tenacity and Fortitude

Turn your tardiness into a lesson for your team of the value of tenacity and fortitude. This is a much better alternative than inadvertently showing these kids that they don’t have to show up, on time, to be successful. They look up to you as a role model, not just as a coach.

 Tenacity is defined as: “the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly.” It is synonymous with “persistence, determination, perseverance, doggedness, strength of purpose, resoluteness, and stubbornness.” It is generally considered a positive trait.

Fortitude is defined as: “courage in pain or adversity.” It is synonymous with “character, resilience, and grit.”

The two traits are similar, but they are not exactly the same. That said, if you are stuck in your car and will not get to practice on time, the best thing you can do is double down on both your tenacity and fortitude and use your creativity in the way that would make Paolinetti proud. Tap into the resources at your fingertips and be glad that in the 21st century the smart technology that virtually everyone has on them at all times is going to help you coach while you get there.

This will go best if you have prepared for this moment. Which we hope you have because you are a loyal Hustle Fitness reader. However, we understand that there is a chance that you have not and have run across this blog post because you are stuck and are searching for help now. Rest assured, with our help you’ve got this.

Check, Call and Care for Your Team

In the case of any emergency there are a series of steps to take to get from where you are to the other side. This may not be the type of emergency that the Red Cross prepares for, but taking a play out of their book can help you stay calm and intentional and get the job done, even if you can’t be there in person. The truth is that their 3-step guide makes a lot of sense.

  • Check. This refers to assessing the scene. What is happening? How late will you be? Is there an assistant coach that you can rely on? Did you prepare in advance and make sure that the entire team is using the Hustle Fitness app? Without you physically present, what instructions can you give to them to start practice that will be effective?
  • Call. Place the call or calls you need to the players, parents, facility, and/or assistant coaches. Give clear instructions with simple steps. If possible send a group text to everyone. Tell them that you are on your way, but stuck, or that you are stuck due to a specific reason. However, as their coach you are committed to them, and for today’s practice things will go like (fill in the blank). If you all have the Hustle Fitness app, tell them exactly which drill you want them to practice. Remember, most kids are extremely plugged in and this can be an advantage in this situation.
  • Care. Follow-up. Stay linked in with them. Assign people tasks that can help make practice run smoothly and follow up with them. Pay attention to how things went for each of the kids and make sure that they had a great practice experience even if you weren’t there. Touch base with each parent and use this as an opportunity to make sure that they know you care about them and their kids. You just hit a glitch - but the upside was you got them through it.

For more tips and tricks on coaching youth basketball and baseball keep following Hustle Fitness.