Coaching Youth Sports – Debate…

Ever just watch a high school football, basketball or baseball game? What were you first impressions?  Ever go to one of those games and see a complete whitewash or blow out? You know, where one team is far superior in every way over the other. What were your emotions? I have coached for many years in youth sports, all the way up to high school level. I have been involved on both sides of winning big and losing big. When I see scores that are so far apart, I just wonder, “what are the coaches doing?” In this area there are two schools of thought. You have those that say, you should never run the score up on an opponent; or sorry, maybe they should practice hard or work harder not to have that happen. For me, it just depends on the situation…

I for one am not a proponent of running up the score on a less-talented team. Nor am I in favor of going after individual or team scoring records. I believe that once the game has started, I as the coach, have to evaluate the game and where this is heading. If I know, I have an opponent completely out matched, I do change how I approach the rest of the game. It does not mean that I tell my players not to give 100%. It means that I may change up my player combinations or demand the team to involve more of the lesser skilled players in the game. Does that hurt the overall team? I don’t believe that it does. I would argue that expanding your playing time to those that normally get less (and having them work with higher skilled players) makes your overall team stronger. What really frosts my cookies, is when a coach is not attempting to use all of his players – his/her first team gets all the playing time. When we do score, we don’t go over-the-top with a celebration, we act like you have done it before. I have definitely had a few of those games where I was on the losing end. I again have to re-evaluate my approach to the game. I will try to motivate my players to keep them working hard, keep them focus on their performance and everything that they control. Win one play at a time, so to speak. Build on those successes for next time. Afterwards, my practice planning and focus will be on where we really need to get better based on past performances. Some of the best learning situations come from failure.

Coaching sports is something that I have loved to do over the years. I have heard from many of my players parents that we could have easily have doubled that score if we did not let up on the opponents throat. I usually answer that with, we did not let up, we just changed our approach. I also add, “what benefit would it be to the team to do that? We won and we won be a lot, doubling it who benefits?”  The simple answer I normally got was, our scoring leaders would have more points, which could get them a scholarship. My answer to that is, “maybe, maybe not; I don’t think it matters that much to him/her as they were helping their team mates be better.”

I always look for life lessons in sports. Winning big or losing big happens in sports and in life. How we do that is more important than the actually outcome. People says that we are getting to be a nation of wussies. We care too much about people’s feelings. Well, maybe that is true. I believe that as a coach it is my responsibility to have my team prepared to play well and get the job done. Putting a little bit more emphasis on how we accomplish getting the job done when adversity happens or when it is too easy – helps. For the players that have played for me, over those many years, I bet they would not argue that fact. Some would have wished that I let them accomplish some scoring titles or stuff like that, but I hope that they learned how to win with grace and sportsmanship.

I would like your take on it!