Oh, yes you are…you ARE making mistakes.
We don’t like to admit it. And the coaching mistake might not happen today. Or tomorrow.
But one-of-these days you will screw-up your coaching
How do I know?
Because we all make preventable coaching mistakes
Every well intentioned, good, respectable coach screws-up.
The bad news–when we screw-up we can really mess things up.
The good news–there are four common coaching mistakes that can easily be avoided.
Ones we coaches, and our athletes, will be better off if we don’t make.
And they are preventable. Here they are.
Preventable Coaching Mistake #1: You yell like your shoes are five sizes too small
Coaches should yell.
They should scream.
And if your point is falling on deaf ears—you should yell LOUDER. Scream HARDER. Spray spit. Flail arms. It works really, really well . . .
. . . to DRIVE an athlete away. To DESTROY trust. To CRUSH an ego. To develop a rep you DON’T want.
Athletes don’t respond to LOUD communication like the communicator hopes they will.
Ninety percent (or more) of athletes screamed at are motivated to do one thing and one thing only—make the screaming stop.
Yelling and screaming won’t earn a coach respect. There are better ways.
And throwing in “sentence enhancers” (aka cuss words) might lose said coach a whole lot more than respect. Like a coaching gig.
There are some darn good coaches currently unemployed because they could not communicate in a positive, constructive manner.
But that won’t be you.
Preventable Coaching Mistake #2: Your good-to-bad-critique ratio is wrong
It was going to be a great day.
At my desk I was drawing a picture. My second-grade substitute teacher had just given us an assignment.
Crayons. Paper. Everyone started happily drawing.
I thought this was wonderful…until . . .
The substitute walked up behind me, looking at my work.
“This isn’t right,” she said. Then, for what seemed like a life-time, she criticized and corrected my drawing. Not a single positive comment in the whole lot.
I was crushed.
Yet if I was in art school, chasing an MFA, I would have expected that criticism.
Probably would have demanded it.
But not as a dweeb second-grader.
Coaches, like my substitute, screw this up all the time.
How many positive critiques (“Hey Jack…you are doing this really well”) are you giving your athlete compared to negative critiques (“Yo Jill…This part here, you gotta do better!”)?
Here’s a scale I suggest you try on for size (This is my theory. May not fit your style or program.)
To see where you are on the ratios have someone record your comments in a practice.
Crazy you say! John Wooden did it. Why not you?
Preventable Coaching Mistake #3: You care more about winning than you should
When I go to a movie I love seeing the previews, and we were sooo late.
I hated it.
The previews get me in the mood for the movie and I get a flavor of movies to come. And I was going to miss them this night.
I was frustrated as the traffic crept along. I turned to my wife, and groaned, “This is going to suck.”
She smiled. “No worries,” she said. “We’ll just miss the previews. No biggie. Relax.”
I cared. She didn’t.
And that’s where you can screw-up your coaching, when your focus on something is intense, say perhaps winning, and is greater than is warranted.
Point blank—winning is fun.
However, depending on the level you are coaching—there is an appropriate importance to put on winning.
An eight-year old soccer’s team priority should be athlete/team development and enjoyment—not winning.
An Olympic effort has one focus—winning.
Are you screwing up by caring more about winning than you should? Or not caring as much as you should?
Preventable Coaching Mistake #4: You don’t watch-the-clock
Let me be blunt—coaches STINK at telling time.
The boss at my gas-station job expected me to be exactly ON-TIME to work, and leave exactly when the shift was over.
During that time I was “his person” (as he used to say) and outside of that time I was “someone else’s” person. I always pitied the fellow who was 2-minutes late, or tried to leave 1-minute early.
But why do coaches think things are different for them?
Oh yeah, we expect people to be on time, yet I see coaches continually keep their athletes late. Five minutes, ten minutes, 30 minutes late.
We encroach on other people’s time when we do that.
It’s screwing-up. Get a watch. Use it. Because other people certainly do.
So why should you care?
So? We screw-up. It’s part of human nature.
Why should you care?
Because these mistakes take away from the coaching experience. Can diminish your reputation. Could lose you a job. Annoy people. And do not reflect well on our vocation.
Okay then, what to do:
- Stop making these preventable coaching mistakes.
- Look around for other preventable coaching mistakes you are making, especially wicked big screw-ups (we’ll talk about those in the future).
- Don’t make things worse. When you do screw-up (which you most certainly will), relax and learn from it. Apologize. Try a smile. And don’t be too hard on yourself. Cause if you do, that in itself is a screw-up.
There are no perfect coaches.
Just coaches who try hard, screw-up, and learn from their mistakes.
Coach well, we need you!