As a coach for over 20 years I am very aware of the effects of sport on an individual. Coaches can bring a player up to the highest point and then crush them like an ant. It’s true. I have seen it many times. The short-term effects of Authoritarian coaching and leadership that includes a personal ego that is result oriented, will never make up for the potential long-term negative effects on the athlete. This is the power of coaching.
No matter what the level of sport or the age of the athlete, it is never appropriate to belittle, chew out publicly or verbally assault a player regardless of the situation. We as coaches should be striving to empower our players and to build their confidence in a not so forgiving sport, so that they can take positive life skills away from the playing field, and hopefully continue this game.
What is the Power of Coaching
So here is my question to you. Why is it such a bad quality to be a nice coach? Why do people think that you need to degrade players and yell at them to get them to do what you want. Why not allow the player to do what they want? For example. When I had a player who was “acting up” during practice it was simple. I would say “I know that it can be hard sometimes to focus during practice, especially at the end of the school year (which it was) and that’s ok. Just have a seat away from the rest of the players so as not to disturb them, and when you are ready, come on back and join us”. I had given them total control of their participation. She decided when she was ready, which was fairly quickly, and returned to the field.
I believe that as a coach I am not “the boss of them”, I am a facilitator of their knowledge and development in a sport that they love, and I too am at the field executing a task in the process just as the athletes are. We are working together on a mutual goal which is success. What defines that success will be guided by the individual athlete and the program as a whole. A recreational program will have different goals than a national team program however both programs should have athletes and coaches working together to reach that goal.
This is sometimes referred to as the athlete centered approach. Including the athletes in their development is going to have a lasting effect and allow the athlete to even take some of these skills away with them to apply to their daily lives.
If there is one thing that I would like to see coaches implement in their approach is the idea that we are coaching people first and athletes second. This is a way to give our athletes tools to take with them off the field.