What Is Over Coaching And How Can We Prevent It?

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What is over coaching?

Excessive input from the coach while the players are playing in such a way that the coach’s input becomes debilitating to the player’s ability to perform to the best of her ability and stifles her development. In short, the coach is playing instead of the player, making all of her decisions for her.

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What are the symptoms of over coaching?

Over irritated people that do not really enjoy the game. players coaches, and parents.

Is over coaching a problem? does it happen frequently?

I see this as a problem.  Too often, coaches (and parents) feel an undue pressure to win games and therefore over coach the players. As a result, at game time, and during practice, there is a constant barrage of comments directed at the player, making it impossible for the players to enjoy themselves and express themselves on the field.

What are the effects on players and coaches of over coaching, both long and short term?

Mostly, the players end up quitting.  they do not want to subject themselves to this “hostile” environment. they rebel against the pressures and hyper supervision of the adults.  If they do hang on, as they get older, they lack creativity in their play, or the ability to solve the games problems by themselves.  Thus, their development is retarded and they are no longer able to meet the demands of the game at the next level.

How can a coach know if he/she is over coaching?

Usually, the players give big time signals that they are not enjoying themselves.  Their body posture speaks loudly towards this end.  They will also be very nervous while playing, and, perhaps more telling, when faced with a difficult game situation, they are unable to met the demands of the game.  Also, they rarely will ask questions to the coach in fear that they will again be told what to do.  They might stop coming to practice and games, or, need to be forced to participate.

At what age is over coaching most prevalent? younger players or older?

It is prevalent at all ages, but, I find it mostly in the 10‑14 age group.  Here, they are just starting to become players, and, the coach’s expectations become a bit more demanding.  Too many egos get involved.

Why do coaches tend to over coach?

Pressure to win, or an ego that is tied in with the success of their team.

What can be done to remedy the situation?

Clubs and leagues need to monitor the situation carefully and remove the coach from their responsibility if necessary.  The players need to come first. We must all remember that the game belongs to the players, and that the game is the best teacher.

What do you think about the state of youth coaches in general? Are they generally qualified to be coaches, in your opinion?

The state of coaching has drastically improved over the past 12 years that I have been involved in coaching education.  We now have some former players becoming coaches… this is always good to see people that are willing to give a little back to the game that they love.  On the other hand, there are still a lot of coaches out there who have the wrong perspective.  They are coaching for the wrong reasons, and as a result, the players do not enjoy participating.

And, there are the true gems, that is, people who have it all: a knowledge of the sport, a former player, an ability to communicate effectively, is in tune with the developmental needs of his or her players, and, has the ethics to keep things in perspective… this person is rare to find.  But, there are more and more around… much more than there were 10 years ago. This is not to say that you have to have played at a high level to be an effective coach.  In fact, I would rather have a coach that is in tuned to the developmental needs of his or her players, than have an ex-professional with unrealistic demands, who is out to win the championship that he or she never won as a player!  Like everything… there needs to be a balance.

Can you give me a concise example of a scenario when over coaching could happen, and how that particular situation could be fixed?

During the game: coaches sub a player whenever he or she makes a mistake and lectures him or her on the sidelines how to fix the problem, instead of having the player work through some of his/her mistakes on the field, learning as they go. The coach constantly yells out to the players what to do during the game, before they do it.  such as “shoot!”, “hit it to the corner”, “take her on”.  Instead of coaching “after the fact” such as, “hey, do you remember the last time that you had the ball in the box, and there was only one defender between you and the goal?… well, next time you see that, try beating that defender and getting a shot on goal”  sometimes, comments are very appropriate, but, if the coach finds himself chatting constantly, they should force themselves to sit back and relax. I know a club down in Maryland, that makes their coaches bring a lawn chair to the game and sit in it.  They allow their coaches to get up only twice per half… not a bad idea.


Jeff Pill

About This Author

Jeff is the creator of the famous "PIll's Drills". These drills have been used by thousands of coaches all over the world, and at one time were receiving over 300,000 hits a day. His drills have been used all over the world and translated in to German as well as several other languages.

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