On any given day a game can be exhilarating, nail biting, disappointing, or…..boring.
I’ll admit it, I like the close games. There’s nothing like getting down to the last minute of a fast-paced, action-packed game to watch a team reach for the next level.
And then there are the OTHER games…
You know, the games where one or two kids take the ball and go to goal or only pass to each other. Throughout.the.entire.game. That’s a ball hog.
It’s worse when a team loses by a bunch but they’re still not making the passes….DOUBLE YAWN.
“They didn’t sign their kid up for a recital with one or two leads.”
After a few years it starts getting old. Kids quit and multiple teams merge. Parents start getting frustrated too. They didn’t sign their kid up for a recital with one or two leads. It gets increasingly difficult to instill the idea of teamwork when in fact there is an I in team.
Make no mistake. Ball hogs can be some of the nicest people socially. We know lots of ball hogs, and most of them play better than average and are super nice off the ice, field or court. Often the ball hog doesn’t even know that they’re a ball hog.
But don’t count on the teammates to confront their friends. What is more likely to happen is a weak plea for a pass once a game.
So year after year the cycle continues until High School when you’re left with just a few that remain for the social aspect. The gap between teammates has grown too. Those hours of extra ball hog playing time has resulted in greater skill, instincts and field vision. The others lag behind even more unless they’ve moved on to another team.
But now the ball hog can’t carry the team. Other teams figured out early on that making the passes was more important than the glory of a 3rd grade win. They’re beating the ball hogger now. And scouts aren’t as interested in someone that doesn’t know how to move the ball.
That’s why the time is now to Banish the Ball Hog.
8 Steps to Help Your Ball Hog
1. Admit your child/player is a ball hog
Odds are there is one on every team. Admitting it is the first step.
2. Reinforce the concept of passing
We know a coach and trainer who regularly yells out, “make the passes.” He says it so often throughout a game that you’ll see people in play that are usually nowhere near the ball.
3. Set expectations
Some sports require a certain number of passes at the younger ages while others don’t but it really comes down to your coach’s philosophy.
Instead of yelling “go to goal” every time your child has the ball, how bout saying, “who’s open?,” “take your time,” “So and so is open”?
4. Acknowledge teams or players that do a great job passing
Kids eat up praise (don’t we all?). Acknowledging passes that result in goals are a great way to reinforce assists and movement.
5. Notice when your child/player isn’t passing
Sometimes you have to have uncomfortable conversations. We know one kid that never touches the ball. It’s tough to watch. So when that kid actually got the ball and didn’t pass it when he should have, his parents had to have the convo. The response was heartbreaking (“Nobody ever passes to me so I’m not going to pass. I just want to be able to play for a minute”) but they passed the next time they got it (58 minutes in).
6. Mix things up when the team is winning or losing by a lot (Coaches)
If your team is down by a lot, what you’re doing isn’t working. The ball hog isn’t beating the other TEAM. It’s time to shake things up….move your kids around or change your strategy. Is the ball hog tired? Maybe they’ve been skating all game and fresh legs could be more effective, or maybe today isn’t their day.
7. Talk to the parents (Coaches)
Engaging the parents for support is always a good idea. As with the players, at the start of the season set expectations with the parents. Ask them to support sharing the ball and/or positions. Receiving the same feedback from coach and parent helps players move forward.