01 May Are you Overcoaching?
Overcoaching is an extremely common issue across youth sports. It’s an easy trap to fall into without even knowing it. The reason it’s so easy to fall into this habit is because there are so many errors being made and so many details to teach to help players improve. The intentions are always pure because the care factor is high. The issue arises because a lot of what’s being communicated and corrected is not easy for athletes to understand and make the appropriate adjustments. Athletes can struggle with executing concepts or skills for a multitude of reasons including learning styles, developmental age, lack of knowledge/understanding, as well as lack of strength and/or musculature to name a few. Young athletes especially need to be able to make mistakes over and over again before making the necessary changes.
A lot of the time coaches are not wrong in what they are saying but the reality is that the athletes just aren’t at a level where mistakes can be quickly/easily corrected. I hear coaches all the time trying to instruct players by giving verbal play by play commands as though the athletes are video game characters and the coach has the controller (“Pass now”, “Shoot”, “Rebound”, “Jump”, “Throw it”, “Kick it”, “Dribble”, “Steal it” etc.).
For many overcoachers it may feel like the proverbial video game controller is broken but the truth is the player needs to be able to see the play for themself first then have the confidence and musculature to execute the play successfully. So next time you catch yourself in overcoach mode remember to relinquish control, save some breath, and let the development process run its course.
Over-coaching can be more harmful than under-coaching. Keep it simple!
– John Wooden