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Encouraging Shy, But Talented, Players To Be Selfish

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"On my high school soccer team, my best midfielder routinely passes up shot opportunities. She is extremely talented, and from conversations with her, I know she is concerned that if she shoots too much, teammates will consider her 'selfish.' How can I persuade her to shoot more, which would be to our team's benefit, without creating a divide between her and her teammates?"

PCA Response By Eric Eisendrath, PCA Lead Trainer
This is a refreshing problem as we more often hear of players shooting too much. When dealing with this issue with the player, make it clear that this is not an issue of selfishness. It really boils down to effective decision-making. The same can be said for not shooting enough.

In any team sport, as a coach, we seek to work the ball into a position that facilitates the highest quality shot. Using that premise, I would explain to your midfielder: "Great players are strong decision-makers. The player with the best opportunity to score is the one who should shoot. If that player is you, then take the shot!"

You also need to make sure the rest of the team understands that the issue is decision-making rather than selfishness. If this player continues to believe her teammates will see her as selfish, she may resist your coaching. Explain to your entire team that you want all of them to develop the ability to make good decisions about who has the best chance to score. Then reinforce this in your team conversations throughout the season.

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