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February 27, 2013
Petke gets an education as a rookie head coach in man management even during pre-season practice

Mike Petke: "If you don't express that to a player, then his mind is going everywhere. It's not fair."
Mike Petke: "If you don't express that to a player, then his mind is going everywhere. It's not fair."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Today, starts a series of stories about Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke as he talks about himself, his philosophy and the team as he prepares for his first game against the Portland Timbers on Sunday. Petke talks about the learning curve as a rookie coach.

By Michael Lewis Editor

As a rookie coach, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke has learned that learning curve is great in many areas.

That includes man management and communication, even though Petke has been known as a pretty decent communicator during his career.

"I still have to learn a ton," he said. "One of the things that sticks out the most of me what I have learned is that I knew all long, but gets lost in the so many responsibilities, which is player management, taking time to talk to the players individually."

For example, at a recent pre-season practice, the Red Bulls participated in some 3 v 3 drills. One player in the starting 11 wound up playing with reserves, "where he usually is in more of a dominant role," Petke said.

"There was nothing to read into it," he said. "But what I know as my life as a player and as a coach the last two years, it's impossible for a human being not to read into things in situations like that.

"I didn't take the time to take him aside to explain it to him a little bit. It turned into, 'What's going on Mike?' and this and that. I had to pull him aside and say listen, that's on me. 'Listen, I should have pulled you aside. This has no bearing on going forward. I was just mixing the team a little bit.' "

So it was an important lesson learned by Petke before he even directed his first official match as a head coach.

"It's definitely remembering as a player all the things you feel as a player, all the emotions that go into it, its impossible not to read into and communicating that to the player," he said.

Petke said that he has to take a proactive approach for decisions leading up to games.

"Instead of the player dropped from the lineup. say, because he is a little tired, he has played a lot of games and it just is going to be for one game," he said. "But if you don't express that to a player, then his mind is going everywhere. It's not fair.

"Things that I learned throughout my career and knew with everything else going on, sometimes you miss a step here and there. That's happened the last [few] weeks only a couple of times. It's learning from that."
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