coaching: different strokes for different folks?

OK folks, as I get ready to make the transition from baseball to football season (my two favorite sports by the way), I am once again reminded that coaching styles vary dramatically.  I’m also reminded of the question I ask myself every year, “Why do coaches of more physical sports like hockey, lacrosse and football tend to be so much more focused on yelling and physical punishment?”

I’ve played pretty much every sport under the sun and since the days of my childhood, I’ve noticed this trend.  Is it effective? Is it good for the kids? Can someone be an effective coach without the yelling and the laps and the push-ups? Can you motivate a group of youngsters with just enthusiasm and encouragement? What effect does this type of treatment have on the kids?  Are these coaches only interested in “survival of the fittest” and concerning themselves only with those kids and parents who can tolerate this type of environment?

While I’ve never coached hockey, lacrosse or football, I’ve always wanted to so that I can see for myself but alas, breaking into the coaching ranks after your child turns 6 years old is no easy task, as some of you may very well know.  I’ve noticed in the past that even the most seemingly timid and level minded individuals can change slightly when they step onto the field, but why?

Those of you who have coached various sports will certainly have an opinion but I want to hear from everyone on this.  Some of you are only parents who watch and observe and perhaps feel strongly about how your kids are being treated.  Either way, let me know what you think.




6 Responses to “coaching: different strokes for different folks?”

  1. 1 Butch
    August 10, 2009 at 10:32 AM

    Unfortunately, a lot of coaches harbor a philosophy about coaching that convinces them that since yelling and chastisement was the technique they encountered as players, it’s still valid. This, of course, is the same rationalization that fosters hazing on teams and fraternities. The greater problem with many coaches at the youth level is that they were lunch money victims as kids and now they’re showing off their manhood by screaming at 8-year olds.
    Certainly some kids need extra “encouragement.” However, if a coach finds that he can’t properly instruct and motivate any team at any level without resorting to screaming, he should probably rethink his role in the organization.

  2. 2 Joeybagabaseballs
    August 10, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    My two favorites are also baseball and football,I coach both. I find this question very interesting because its an observation that anyone would make from the sideline. Football coaches and players need to have a sense of urgency in everything they do to prepare for one game a week. A kid missing a ball in right field doesn’t get anyone hurt a kid missing a blocking assignment could. Getting your butt kicked in baseball is one thing, getting your butt kicked in football can actually be dangerous even more so if the team isn’t properly prepared. The physicality’s of football requires a coach to be willing to deal out some tough love. That generally requires a coach to see which players can withstand some rigorous physical drills. A good coach motivates with enthusiasm and encouragement and sometimes that is done by raising your voice. Football requires a certain mental and physical toughness it is a survival of the fittest the stronger you can make your team mentally and physically the less chance for someone to get hurt.

    My favorite Baseball coach growing had a “football mentality” he raised his voice to get his point across at times but we were always prepared to play.

  3. August 10, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    Hey, Baga”whatever ball is in season”

    Very well stated. I agree with pretty much everything you said but I want to clarify something. I don’t want anyone to think that I believe yelling, in and of itself, is a bad thing. Anyone who has ever seen me coach knows that I yell all the time.

    There is a difference however between yelling TO the players and yelling AT the players. There is also a difference between motivating a kid with tough love and berating a kid and punishing him and making him afraid to try for fear of making another mistake and getting further punishment. There is yet another difference between helping the kids understand the importance of being physically ready for the tasks at hand and making them feel like their conditioning (which is absolutely necessary) is a punishment.

    I personally HATED running sprints because I never was told how important it was to my conditioning. We were simply told to run sprints or do push-ups whenever someone made a mistake. Now, when I coach, I make sure the kids know that it’s NOT a punishment and that it’s a very important part of getting them ready to perform. It makes a world of difference in how the kids take it.

    In short, I’m more concerned about how and why these messages are delivered to the players and rather than whether or not the actual activities are important.

    Thanks for a great point.

  4. August 13, 2009 at 5:51 PM

    I’ve been coaching football for 6 years the last 3 tackle. Coaching my son and his classmates in the 5/6 grade this year. I must state first the switch from baseball to football, coaching wise, is not an easy one. A lot of the same children will be with you during both sports. I have their respect and they believe what I’m telling them will help them be better ball players. However, I do yell, if I can describe to you how loud I yell, picture a freight train in a tunnel with you standing in the middle in a doorway. So you’re feeling it, is what I’m saying. To me and the children I’ve coaches these years it would not be me if I wasn’t yelling. With that out of the way, now let me attempt to inform you what I’m yelling at. Nothing that has ever come out of my mouth while yelling is negative. I don’t yell at them, I yell too them. All the yelling to me and the kids is positive reinforcement. During practice or a game the kids hearing their name from me only makes them aware that I see what they are doing and %100 of the time it’s positive. These kids feed off my emotions and they start yelling (just not back at me). They also yell nothing but positive things to their teammates. So they are being fed the emotions though me and reacting. The kids in this area do not lack anything. I feel and always have felt that I’m getting the most of these children, not just because I yell, its how I yell.

  5. August 13, 2009 at 6:09 PM


    Great to hear!

    Has anyone else besides me ever witnessed the “stereotypical” football coach? The brow-beating, the physical discipline? the kind of coach who makes the kids afraid to make a mistake instead of encouraging them to do their jobs effectively as players?

    BTW, let’s not give football all the blame or an overall bad rap. There are coaches in all sports who believe in this style.

    In fact a HS Girls Softball coach was recently put under scrutiny because she made a girl (who forgot her sliding pads) participate in sliding drills. the girl obviously suffered, multiple cuts and bruises and th coach’s response was something along the lines of, “This is how I do things…a few cuts and scrapes aren’t going to kill anyone. Next time, she’ll remember her sliding pads.”

    Please remember, this isn’t about right and wrong. I’m really wondering if coaches of a physical sport can be effective without all the old-school bullcrap.

    sounds like a few of you are getting good results.

    Please keep the responses coming.

    Coach Tony

  6. August 14, 2009 at 8:54 PM

    I find it very easy to see how different sports seem to have different coaching styles. MY son played lacrosse for the first time this year and he really liked it. The first few games there was very little hitting going on and alot of finesse style play. The coaches were mostly pointing and positioning the players and keeping things pretty low key.

    Then came a game against a very aggressive team with alot of hitting. My son took 2 pretty nice shots and he looked a little confused as to how to respond. All the players were confused in the same manner. The Coach at half raised his voice and was very emphatic all of a sudden for his players to “toughen” up a bit and be more prepared for the physical play. I have to admit my voice was raised a higher decibel to my son in encouragement after I saw some of the hitting. I really believe that alot of coaches go way overboard with the “macho” stuff but there is a fine line in getting a childs attention to be more physical in order to protect oneself. I felt my own temperment change as to how I watched the game and what I expected out of my son.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: