Last year I came across a post on LinkedIn announcing a new book about teaching youth sports. Then, I recognized the author…retired Air Force General Greg Gutterman. Finally, I noticed the title, Hustle and Have Fun! A Coach’s Guide to Winning Over Players and Parents. Those of you who have been with me on this blog for a while know that I am a retired Air Force officer and have off-and-on had plans to write a book for coaches based on my Hustle & Attitude philosophy. I’ve even had the working title for several years now – The Hustle & Attitude Guide to Coaching Youth Sports. Needless to say, Gen Gutterman’s announcement on LinkedIn scared me to death. Had someone written the book I have always wanted to write; had I missed my opportunity?!?!
I had to know. So, I ordered a copy of the book and read it cover to cover on a flight back from LA. My conclusion: while similar in concept, title, and author background; Gutterman’s book is NOT the book I have been planning to write. Phew! It is a good book and one that adds value to the library of books offering advice for youth sports coaches. I’ve reviewed a number of the others on this site. Here’s my review of Hustle and Have Fun! A Coach’s Guide to Winning Over Players and Parents.
First, I know General Gutterman. Our paths crossed while we were both on active duty in the Air Force. Further, his kids and mine attended the same high school. I can remember sitting in the stands of Beavercreek High School girl’s soccer games near the Guttermans. He has been the Beavercreek hockey coach for some time now.
His book is chock full of stories both of his youth sports playing and coaching experiences. These stories are presented to offer lessons for coaches to apply in their coaching. I would characterize the target audience for this book as high school sports coaches. There is much a youth recreational sports coach could take from the situations and recommendations in this book, but I think they pertain mostly to high school sports.
Our coaching philosophies overlap in many ways. On the importance of the players having fun and that being more important than winning, he says “The scoreboard is not how we will define success this year” and “After all, what good is winning if half the kids quit the sport after the season is over, because they didn’t have fun?” I tell coaches that my ultimate measure of a successful season is whether the players want to play again the following season. Also, on coaching your own child, we agree that “There’s no Mom or Dad here, only coach”.
Gutterman suggests there are three elements of an effective practice required to empower players to become their best: conditioning, team play, and skills development. He says when all three are present, you have a well-balanced practice plan. I’ve always trained coaches that they need to have a plan for each practice with goals to achieve. The goals to be achieved drive the drills used in the practice to improve the players’ skills. Gutterman’s three elements add conditioning and team play as important aspects to be deliberately incorporated into practice plans. Further, where I encourage coaches to run multiple drills at the same time to reduce the amount of standing around in practice (often cited by young players as a specific reason the season was not fun), Gutterman points out the practical aspect that “The small group sizes (inherent in running more than one drill at a time) ensure each player accomplishes numerous repetitions of the skill”.
Where I feel Gutterman’s philosophy is geared more toward high school (or at least select/travel league) sports coaching is in his discussion of playing time. He suggests that ‘Participant’ and ‘Show-off’ players should not be rewarded with playing time. Gutterman says, “If the participant player doesn’t ‘get it’, they should not be rewarded with much if any game time” and he “reminds the players, and their parents, that in sports and life, you get what you earn, through hard work”. I’ve written before on the idea of earning playing time – and even my Dad’s thoughts on the subject. In youth recreational sports (which are different from travel/select and high school sports), I believe that every child who signs up deserves to play the same amount and the opportunity to play multiple positions. It is the youth coach’s responsibility to discipline/teach the ‘Show-off’ player about sportsmanship and teamwork and to try to motivate the ‘Participant’ player.
In summary, there is much for a rookie youth sports coach, particularly a new high school sports coach, to learn and take away from Hustle and Have Fun! A Coach’s Guide to Winning Over Players and Parents. It has earned a place on my youth sports coaching bookshelf.