The Difference Between A Good & Bad Sports Coach
Are you a good sports coach or a bad coach? There wouldn’t be a sports coach on the planet who thought they were a bad coach. However, there are many of them. Far too many in fact.
At Coaches Guild, we blame this on a lack of education. Bad coaches don’t know they are bad, because they don’t understand the difference between a good and bad sports coach. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. Therefore, we wanted to point out the differences between how a good coach would act in comparison to a bad coach.
This isn’t to point out whether you are a good coach or not, but rather we want to give you something to help you reflect on your own coaching style. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify areas of your coaching that you are doing well and areas where you can make adjustments and improvements.
What is a good coach?
Before we look at the comparative actions of a good and a bad sports coach, let’s first identify a good coach. This should give you something to strive towards.
A good coach makes a positive lasting difference in their athletes’ lives. They teach them skills and lessons that will hold them in good stead for many years to come. And that is both on and off the sporting field and court. They can do this because they understand that sport is about more than just winning and losing.
The lessons and skills they teach their athletes, such as teamwork, trust, accountability, patience, persistence, and commitment, are all valuable life lessons that will reach far beyond their sport. The reason a good coach focuses on these lessons is that they know one day their athlete will no longer play sport. But they will always be able to use these skills in other areas of their life.
This is important to good coaches because they care about each of their athletes as people, not just athletes. They want to see their athletes succeed and that doesn’t matter whether it’s on the field or court, in school, at home, or in the workplace. They care about this because they take the time to get to know their athletes and consider them more as friends or family.
Doing this enables a good coach to have an everlasting impact on their athletes that the athletes never forget. And in the athletes’ eyes, the coach becomes their hero. Now, what coach doesn’t want that?
Good Coach/Bad Coach
Below are some comparisons between how a good coach would act in comparison to a bad coach in different coaching areas. As mentioned before, this isn’t intended to call anyone out as a bad coach. We intend to give you examples of both so if you find yourself on the wrong side, you can use this moment to make some adjustments to improve your impact as a coach.
We all want to be good coaches, but sometimes it’s hard for us to see the difference until someone points it out for us.
A personal touch
A good coach takes time to get to know their athletes individually, whereas a bad coach doesn’t have the time. They simply treat everyone as an athlete only and don’t consider individuality and the impacts of life away from their sport.
This extra attention allows a good coach to focus their coaching on what their athletes need and desire. A bad coach doesn’t have this in-depth knowledge of their athletes, therefore, they focus their coaching on what they want to achieve personally, which is usually only success.
A good coach plans ahead. This could be weeks, months, or even years. But the important point is they know exactly what they want to achieve. This allows them to stay focused even when things don’t go as planned. On the other hand, a bad coach makes it up on the go. They may use previous experiences to guide them, but they don’t have a set plan. This means when things turn south they react. They continuously change their coaching focus week after week, reacting to the latest result.
This results in a band-aid solution that fails to lead the team or athletes to their final destination. Not that they ever knew where that was. But the good coach holds fast and stays the course. This ensures they always achieve their goals, even if it takes a little longer than planned.
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. A good coach ensures that they never ask their athletes to do something that they don’t already do themselves. They set the example, and simply ask their athletes to follow them.
A good coach doesn’t have any difficulty ignoring the scoreboard. Of course, they want to win, just like everyone else. But a good coach focuses on their athletes’ effort and execution. Rather than referring to the scoreboard, they have their own key performance indicators (KPIs) that they use to measure their performances. And they will praise or condemn their athletes based on their KPIs, regardless of what the scoreboard says. This allows a good coach to learn and improve from every game they play.
A bad coach, however, lives and dies by the scoreboard. They let the scoreboard determine whether their athletes performed or not. There is no such thing as an acceptable performance if they lost, nor a bad performance if they won.
According to a bad coach, a poor result falls on the shoulders of others. A bad game is blamed on poor performances by the team. Athletes failing to turn up to training is blamed on the athlete’s failure to show commitment. And a bad umpiring decision is used to explain a close loss. A bad coach refuses to take the responsibility for poor results. Of course, they are happy to take the credit for any success, however.
A good coach shields their athletes. They take all the blame for failures, even if it isn’t their fault. If their athlete made a mistake, a good coach will protect them from prosecution because they know that the buck stops with them. And on the other end of the stick, they give all the praise and credit to their athletes and others involved for success. This is because they know it’s not about them. They are selfless and coach for their benefit of everyone else.
A good coach understands that no one knows it all when it comes to coaching. They understand their limits and do their best to improve their weaknesses and expand their strengths. They know that if they want to get better, just like their athletes, they must turn up every week to learn something new and improve their craft.
A bad coach has a very different outlook on coaching. They believe they know it all. They have been coaching, or playing, or watching for years and believe the way they go about their coaching is the best way. For this reason, they see no reason to change or improve. They dismiss and are often offended by the idea of developing their coaching. “I’ve done it like this forever and it’s worked, so why do I need to change?” Unfortunately, little do they know that what they have been doing has not likely been working. Maybe they blamed the poor results on someone else. ?
“A good coach will make their players see what they can be rather than what they are.”Ara Parseghian
There is so much more to coaching than what we have discussed here. However, the above should give you an indication of where you sit in terms of being a good coach or a bad one. If you find yourself relating to the definition of a bad coach in some areas, don’t take it as criticism. Rather see it as a revelation and make amendments to improve your coaching and the impact you are having on your athletes.
- Review your coaching practices and actions against those discussed above. Give yourself an honest evaluation and score yourself from 1 to 5 on each of the coaching areas. (1 = badest of bad coaches, 5 = extremely good coach)
- After your review, identify which areas require the most improvement. If you have the same score for multiple areas, decide which area means the most to you.
- Once you have determined which coaching area you need or want to improve, dedicate time over the next two months or so to improve in that area.
- After the allotted time, re-evaluate yourself to track your improvements. If you have made the necessary improvements in your chosen area, identify the next area requiring improvement and repeat the process.
- If you have someone you trust who observes you closely as a coach, ask them to evaluate you on the same criteria. Then compare your scores to see if your self-perception is accurate.
What was your key takeaway from this article?
Do you have any questions on any of the information provided in this article?
Let us know in the comments.