By Joe Ulm
In any youth sports season, regardless of the sport, you’re bound to run into “That Coach” at least once. If you’ve spent any time around youth sports, you know the type of coach I’m talking about. It’s the coach who:
- Thinks they’re coaching the World Cup/World Series/Superbowl every time they walk on the field.
- Only knows how to communicate by yelling
- Expects every 9 year-old on the team to master an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge about the sport by the second week of practice
- Is thrilled to use some weird trick play he invented to score one more goal even though there’s only 43 seconds left in the game and the team up by 5 goals
- Carries a copy of the rules with them because “most of the referees don’t know them.”
- Scouts upcoming opponents weeks before playing them
- Runs extra practices each week so the players can perfect some new play or skill
Sadly, this was me when I first started coaching. Over 20 years have passed since then and I’m glad to say my time as “That Coach” was short-lived. But I still remember what it was like. I still remember how I thought. I still remember thinking it was about me.
I believe this is the problem with most coaches who operate this way. They think whatever happens on the field is a reflection on them. Win and they’re a winner. Lose and they’re a loser. Or worse yet, they think they’re the main actor on some grand stage of players, parents, and opponents.
Having been “That Coach” once, I can say I wish someone would have shared this simple change of perspective with me back then. It would have changed things for me – and more importantly, it would have changed things for the kids I coached. It’s a thought that makes me wonder if coaches like that would listen today. Like most shared advice, I’m guessing some would, but most wouldn’t. For the kids’ sake, however, it’s certainly worth a try.