Coaching…Is it Overrated?

September 26, 2016

Everybody remembers their youth sport coaches, especially the really good ones but it also includes some of the questionable characters. The good coaches are ones that you usually liked as people and the bad ones yelled at you too much. I don’t want to go into what characteristics make a bad coach, I am sure the list is long for many. For me personally, I will always remember the strange coaches that felt inclined to play their kid ahead of others who were far more deserving and more talented.

The reason I am bringing up the coaching overrated argument is because we expect a lot of the coaches and they take way too much blame for losing and too much credit for winning. Coaching is important as a progressive path as athletes age and move up through the levels of their chosen sport. The coaches that are handling the youngsters in the early stages of their venture into organized sports are so influential. Many of these youth coaches don’t realize how much impact they have and can either enhance the experience or sour it for the kids. I am not talking about whether they bring juice boxes to the dugout or sidelines but how they teach and motivate them. 

Nowadays, a lot of coaches have to do the yeoman work of being a child psychologist, adult therapist, equipment manager, fundraiser, umpire, referee, doctor and policeman. It is a challenge that sometimes takes a squad of parents and coaches to get the job done when it once took one or two adults. The youth sports today are taken more seriously and if the coach is not handling things perfectly, I am sure that they will hear it from many parents. I feel for those coaches that don’t deserve the criticism.

When a child climbs the ladder of sporting competition and the level of talent is more refined, the coaching needs to change to more of a mentor and teacher. This is where the amount of good instructional coaches are needed more than ever. There is a shortage of quality coaching at the teen level of performance. The good coaches at this level can elevate a child’s performance and perhaps prepare them for the next level.

If a child is still playing organized sports into their late teens, then they have been taught well and groomed for the next level which is collegiate and professional. There is where coaching is less important and where the athlete needs to take a survivor mentality to keep rising up the ranks. Sure, good coaching is always needed but no one will care more if you succeed than yourself. There is no one to blame at this point and the motivation has to come from within.

At the highest level of coaching and managing is where the dealing of players is more as a game strategist and less about teaching. In some sports, such as professional basketball, the coach has minimal influence on players and their performance. Players are getting paid and if that doesn’t motivate them, they will probably join the rest of us in the day to day working stiff grind. Coaching at the professional level is a slippery slope. You are only as good as your talent and if you don’t win games soon, its goodbye. So professional coaching is about instilling a system and strategy to win, and it can only be successful if the players can execute.

Is coaching overrated? It is overrated when coaches take the brunt of the blame for poor performance, unless there is a full-blown mutiny against them. When a team flat out rejects a coach, it is usually because he doesn’t handle the various personalities with sensitivity. Like I said earlier, having the gift of how to mold the mixed bag of personalities into a cohesive team unit will at least make you popular as a coach. If a coach can do that and win on the field as well, then you have the recipe for being very successful. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be a shortage of youth coaches.  Every athlete has to at least try to coach once in their life. There are a lot of rewards, maybe not monetary but when you can step into the shoes of all of the others who tried, you will think twice about throwing rotten tomatoes at the coach.