Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Honor the Game, Honor the Players

One of the most beneficial things a soccer coach can do is to be *quiet* during his/her team's soccer game.

What!!! you say? I thought coaches were supposed to be yelling, cursing, shouting, and goading their teams to victory! And don't we want them to win? They need my instructions in order to win! Otherwise they will make mistakes that could cost us the game!

Well, not in soccer. And not in many other sports. In soccer the field is big, the play is fast, and the players own the game. It is hard enough for players to pay attention to themselves, their opponents, their teammates, the officials, the rules, and the ball in this dynamic game let alone have a backseat driver on the sidelines trying to yell them instructions while they are busy playing. Either they cannot hear you most of the time or you distract them from the game when they try to hear what you are saying. Do you want players eyes on you or the ball during the game?

The players are closest to the action. They have the best information about what they need to do. They are in the driver's seat.

The best thing a coach can do during games is to sit back, relax, observe, talk to players sitting out, and take notes about what players are doing well and what the team needs to work on as a whole.

Plus the coach is the role model that everyone else on the team looks up to -- players, assistant coaches, and parents. The behavior the coach exhibits is the behavior others learn to emulate.

In soccer and many other sports, the best times for coaches to talk is when others can listen. The best times are at practices, before games, after games, and to players who are sitting out during games.

Let the players play, let the spectators cheer, and conserve coaching energy by applying it when and where it can have the biggest positive impact.

Honor the game. Honor the players.

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