Behaviors that Characterize "Bad Coaching" - Podium Sports Journal (2022)

Yeah. Sports administrators should be more attuned to these character issues…but more often than not the pressure to “win” has more weight than the development of character. Can you imagine for one moment a Tom Landry, or John Wooden engaging in the kinds of examples Alan Goldberg writes about below? These men are the role models we need to look up to and expect coaches to aspire to. The Bob Stoops of the world are too few and far between and the requirements for achieving credentials to coach the vulnerable ones don’t even exist in some systems. Hence, we’re left to police ourselves. So if your coaching – take a gander at Dr. Goldberg’s list of examples – and maybe rethink your approach. The career you save just might be your own.

One of Podium Sports Journal’s most valued articles was contributed by Dr. Scott Martin on Effective Coaching Behaviors. It provides a definitive and positive model every coach at any level can benefit from. Check it out.

Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control. – Tom Landry

There are a lot of “coaches” out there who don’t have CLUE ONE about how to really coach! These individuals consistently do far more damage to young people than they do good.

They tear down self-esteem rather than building it up. They create an extremely unsafe learning environment for their athletes. They use fear, humiliation and demeaning, disrespectful behaviors as “teaching” tools. They are emotionally and sometimes (indirectly) physically abusive. They directly and indirectly pressure athletes to continue to play when injured. They regularly kill the fun and passion that their athletes once had for the sport. These coaches have lost their way and strayed terribly far from the true mission of coaching.

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You’re NOT a good coach when you call an athlete out in front of the team and tell that athlete, “You absolutely suck! You’re the worst short-stop, quarterback, setter, forward, keeper, etc. that I have ever seen!

How is this kind of a comment constructive? Does it help a child understand exactly what he/she is doing wrong and what they need to do to fix it and improve? How does it help a child learn? Does it motivate an individual to want to work even harder to improve? Does it help that individual feel good about themselves?

You’re NOT a good coach if you think that your most important job as a coach is to win games.

I don’t care what kind of pressure to win that you face from the administration. If winning is your primary goal as a coach you have significantly lost your way and as a consequence, you’ll actually win less!

Your mission as a coach is to teach young people and help them grow as individuals so that they become better people in the world, both on and off the field
There are far more important things at stake here than whether a kid wins or correctly learns the x’s and o’s. Good coaches teach their athletes how to be better people in the world and they use their sport as nothing more than a vehicle for this teaching. The winning and losing outcomes are completely secondary to the teaching of valuable life lessons (playing as a team and sacrificing individual needs for the betterment of the team, handling adversity & failure, mastering fear & obstacles, working hard towards a faraway goal, learning to believe in yourself, being a good sport, playing by the rules, etc.)

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You’re NOT a good coachwhen you place the outcome of a competition in front of the physical and emotional welfare of your players.

If you pressure your athletes to play when injured or if you demean and ignore those athletes who are too injured to play, then you are engaging in physical abuse. Encouraging your athletes to play hurt so that the team can win is reckless behavior for you as a coach. When you do this you are directly putting your players at risk. You are NOT teaching them to be mentally tough! Playing through pain is NOT a sign of strength. That is a ridiculous MYTH!!!!! Instead, it’s completely ignoring your body’s early warning signs that something is very wrong.

You’re NOT a good coach when you allow players on your team to scape-goat and/or demean each other.

Good coaches create a safe learning environment. There is nothing safe about being on a team where teammates regularly criticize and yell at each other. There is nothing safe about being on a team when you are picked on or ostracized by your teammates. It’s the coach’s responsibility to set very clear limits to prevent these kinds of “team busting” behaviors. There should be no place for them on a winning team.

You’re NOT a good coach when you play favorites.

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Good coaches treat their athletes fairly. They don’t operate with two different sets of rules, i.e. one for the “chosen few” and one for the rest of the team. Coaches who play favorites go a long way towards creating performance disrupting dissension on their squads.

You’re NOT a good coach when you tell your athletes that under no circumstances are they ever to tell their parents what really goes on in practice, and that if they do, they are being disloyal and disrespectful to their teammates coach and the program!

Coaches who tell their athletes these kinds of things are terribly misguided and are trying to hide something. What they’re trying to hide is their abusive behaviors! Telling kids not to ever tell their parents is what child abusers tell their victims!

You’re NOT a good coach when you treat your players with disrespect.

Idon’t care what your won-loss record is or how many championships you’ve won in the past. When you treat pre-adolescent and adolescent athletes disrespectfully you are NOT a good coach. Great educators don’t teach in this manner. They value their students and make them feel that value, both as learners and individuals. Your position and reputation should not determine whether you get respect from your team. What does determine whether people respect you is how you ACT! Your behavior is what’s paramount. Good coaches earn their respect from their players on a daily basis, over and over again based on how they conduct themselves and how they interact with their athlete and everyone else associated with the program. If you think that you’re too important to earn respect, then you are distinguishing yourself as a bad coach!

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You’re NOT a good coach when you don’t “walk the talk.” What you say to your players means nothing if it doesn’t come from who you are as a person.

Simply put, your words have to closely match your behaviors. Great coaches are great role models in that they teach through their behaviors. They don’t operate on a double standard where it’s OK for them to act one way but hold their athletes to a different and higher standard of behavior. If you as a coach teach through the maximum, “do as I say, NOT as I do,” then you have distinguished yourself as a poor coach.

You’re NOT a good coach when you refuse to take responsibility for your behavior, when you refuse to own your mistakes and instead, blame others for them.

The mark of a great educator is that they present themselves as human. They do not let their ego get involved in the more important task of teaching. Therefore when something goes wrong, they are quick to own their part in it. Good coaches take responsibility for their team’s failures and give their team and athletes full responsibility for successes. Bad coaches blame their athletes for losses and take the credit for the team’s successes.

You’re NOT a good coach when you play “head games” with your athletes.

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If you talk behind their backs, play one athlete off against another or are dishonest in your interactions with your players then you are doing nothing constructive to help your players learn and grow as athletes and individuals. Telling a player one thing and then turning around and doing exactly the opposite is not how you go about effective coaching. For example, promising a player more playing time if he/she does A, B and C, and then keeping them on the bench after they do everything you’ve just asked of them is a psychologically insidious game that will kill your athlete’s love of the sport, crush their spirit and destroy their confidence. This is not how great coaches motivate their players!

FAQs

What are the characteristics of a bad coach? ›

In his newsletter on his website, Competitive Edge, Goldberg points out behavior typical among bad coaches.
  • They single out kids to criticize. ...
  • They place winning above everything. ...
  • They ignore safety and health issues. ...
  • The coach allows kids to bad-mouth each other. ...
  • They play favorites. ...
  • They ask kids to deceive their parents.
Dec 11, 2014

What is bad coaching? ›

Similar to resisting change, a bad coach does not make it a priority to improve their craft. They do not value personal or professional development. They are quick to blame others for their lack of success instead of looking within themselves to make changes. A good coach is consistently learning, growing and evolving.

What is the difference between a good coach and a bad coach? ›

Good coaches take responsibility for their team's failures and give their team and athletes full responsibility for successes. Bad coaches blame their athletes for losses and take the credit for the team's successes. You're NOT a good coach when you play “head games” with your athletes.

What are the Behaviours of a coach? ›

  • An effective coach is positive. ...
  • An effective coach is enthusiastic. ...
  • An effective coach is supportive. ...
  • An effective coach is trusting. ...
  • An effective coach is focused. ...
  • A good coach is goal-oriented. ...
  • An effective coach is observant. ...
  • A good coach is respectful.

How do you tell if you have a bad coach? ›

How to Be a Horrible Coach
  1. Bad Coaches Play Favorites. ...
  2. Bad Coaches Only Praise the Team When They Win. ...
  3. Bad Coaches Belittle Players Instead of Correcting Them. ...
  4. Bad Coaches Make Bench Players Feel Unimportant. ...
  5. Bad Coaches Don't Make Adjustments Between Losses. ...
  6. Lousy Coaches Are Overly Concerned About Players Liking Them.
May 19, 2022

What are the effects of negative coaching in sports? ›

The effects of negative coaching can discourage future abilities, portraying a bad influence, and substantially decreasing a child's self-worth. During critical years for an adolescent, negative comments/coaching can affect how they shape their self-worth in the future.

What makes a bad coach in the workplace? ›

A bad coach might be a bully who is determined to have you follow the path they carve for you, rather than helping you create your own. They do not listen to your input and have a cookie cutter approach that everyone is expected to follow.

What a coach should not do? ›

The Top Five Things a Coach Should Not Do
  • Pointing out technical or strategic mistakes of students by telling them what they did wrong. ...
  • Getting emotional or confrontational with students. ...
  • Over coaching. ...
  • Getting stuck on a certain dogmatic system of coaching. ...
  • Teaching everyone the same way.
Aug 5, 2022

Why would a coach not play a good player? ›

Other typical reasons to have a player sit out the game is illness or injury. Many coaches take extensive training specifically to know the signs of injury and how to respond. There are liability concerns with allowing an athlete to play with an injury.

What are bad sports coaches? ›

A bad coach tells their athletes what to do and expects them to do it regardless of how they act themselves. For example, they instruct athletes to accept the umpire's decision, yet yell out and react poorly to bad decisions themselves.

How do you tell a player they didn't make the team? ›

Privacy. Coaches can inform players if they were successful in making the team in a number of ways. It is recommended that however you let the players know that it is not done in a public setting. The coach can contact each player individually or meet in-person to inform them of their decision.

What makes a bad coach in the workplace? ›

A bad coach might be a bully who is determined to have you follow the path they carve for you, rather than helping you create your own. They do not listen to your input and have a cookie cutter approach that everyone is expected to follow.

What a coach should not do? ›

The Top Five Things a Coach Should Not Do
  • Pointing out technical or strategic mistakes of students by telling them what they did wrong. ...
  • Getting emotional or confrontational with students. ...
  • Over coaching. ...
  • Getting stuck on a certain dogmatic system of coaching. ...
  • Teaching everyone the same way.
Aug 5, 2022

Why would a coach not play a good player? ›

Other typical reasons to have a player sit out the game is illness or injury. Many coaches take extensive training specifically to know the signs of injury and how to respond. There are liability concerns with allowing an athlete to play with an injury.

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