If you’ve ever heard a coach (in any sport) tell you they don’t have favorite players, there’s a pretty good chance they’re lying to you. I believe every coach has favorite players. Why would a coach have a favorite player(s)? The answer is easy really. Coaches are human. What coach wouldn’t prefer to work with players who:
2) Work Hard
3) Are Respectful
4) Are Well-Behaved
5) Have Good Attitudes
Any coach would take players like these in a heart-beat. It’s not hard to see why players who don’t meet one or more of the above criteria may cause frustration for the coach. Is it easier to be around and work with a player who gives 100% every shift, or one that goes out and skates half-speed and takes bad penalties? Easy answer, right?
Here is the key in dealing with your players. All of them – favorite or not – need to be treated equally. Rules need to be enforced the same amongst all the players from top to bottom. This isn’t to say your approach with each player should be identical, but guidelines need to be set for behavior, and whether or not your favorite player or least favorite player violate a guideline, the punishment needs to be equal. If the “punishment” for being late to a team function is to sit the first period of the next game, the rule needs to be enforced with each and every person.
It’s OK to have favorites – just be aware of how you treat them, and be sure you’re holding them to the same standards you’re holding your “least favorite” player to. If there is a big inconsistency, you’ve got a sure-fire formula for disaster within your own team. Players will begin resenting each other, parents will turn on you, and you’ll have a lot less fun coaching.