Ins Outs of Overcoaching

By Responsible Sports | Nov. 30, 2010, 3:34 p.m. (ET)
Strike a balance between in-game instruction and overcoaching during competition

As a parent or athlete you've noticed it, and as a coach you may even have recognized it in yourself: the temptation and tendency to "overcoach" during competition. The desire to coach as well as possible, for wins and for life lessons, is an admirable trait of the Responsible Coach. But too often "coaching well" is confused with incessant instruction and "attention to detail" veers into micro-management.

Why does this happen? The idea is that coaches tend to feel that they should be making things happen. They are aware that others may perceive the "hands-on" coach as doing a better job.

Also, exercising authority can feel good, so coaches may succumb to that temptation even when letting players take the lead would yield better results. Plus, media images of coaches pacing the sidelines and yelling out plays leaves the impression that that is how big-time coaches succeed. Therefore, youth coaches may fall into the trap of emulating coaches they admire despite the radically different goals and environments between pro and youth sports.

To compliment the concept of letting players play, you can reference the ELM Approach, where ELM stands for Effort, Learning and Mistakes

The Liberty Mutual Responsible SportsTM program supports volunteer youth sports coaches and parents who help our children succeed both on and off the mat. We offer many youth sports resources including $2,500 community grants, instructional videos, weekly tips, peer and expert advice, and coursework for those interested in improving the youth sports experience for all involved.