I have learned one very important thing in the last couple of years, I wish I had started writing a blog when I was still coaching!
Why, you ask?
I would be a much better coach than I was. I think I’ve learned more from writing these blogs than I’ve shared with the reader.
I was an all-time yeller and screamer! I came up when the idea was that great coaches were people like Bobby Knight and Vince Lombardi. Those coaching legends were very willing to get after a player and the volume was always turned up to “10.” It was always pretty easy for me to justify.
Another one of those old dog, new trick moments, for sure!
So what do I know now that I should have known then? There are a bunch of reasons why screaming and yelling doesn’t work.
1. Coaching is intentional. We yell because we get emotional. We get fired up. We lose control and when we are out of control we are not intentional in our words or actions.
2. We want our players to be in control of their emotions. Well how hypocritical is it to hold our players to a standard of keeping their cool when we can’t control ourselves? We know the right side of the brain is the logical side and the left side is the emotional. We have to help them control their emotions so they can learn rather than react emotionally.
3. We want our players to be able to think. We want them to be able to think in tough situations and when we yell at them, we short-circuit their ability to think clearly. We send them into fight or flight mode and this isn’t the best place to perform.
4. Intrinsic motivation works. External motivation doesn’t work as well. When we yell at them we are basically trying to scare them into performing. They are a whole lot more likely to perform at a high level when they are working to to fulfill internal goals.
5. Fear doesn’t work. We all want to lead our players with what we have always called tough love. Players can be taught the simple concept of consequences for failure without yelling. A conversation, calm and collected, will do the trick way better.
6. We want our players to learn leadership. When we constantly yell at our kids, we stunt their ability to lead. They get used to hearing our loud and angry voice which keeps them from developing their own voice.
7. Yelling isn’t OK anywhere else! If you yell at your boss you probably get fired. If you yell at your employees, you end up in HR. When you yell at your players they think yelling is okay in other areas of their lives and we know better.
8. We are supposed to be the adults! What are we modeling for our players when we yell at them? We would be irate if they chose to speak to us or their parents that way. Enough said?
9. Aren’t we supposed to toughen them up for the “real world”? Of course we are, and the way we coach our players would not be accepted in the real world.
10. There is a better way to coach our players. I often use the quote that we teach as we were taught and so we coach as we were coached. I grew up with coaches that yelled, cussed, threatened and meant it, or at least we thought they did. What I know now is that some of the coaches I modeled myself after were misinformed about the best way to reach their players. I wish I would have learned this lesson a lot earlier in my life.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.