by Jeff Pill
What is over-coaching?
Excessive input from the coach while the players are playing in such a way that the coach’s input becomes debilitating to the player’s ability to perform to the best of their ability and stifles their development. In short, the coach is playing instead of the player, making all of their decisions for them.
Is over-coaching a problem? Does it happen frequently?
I see this as a problem. Too often, coaches (and parents) feel an undue pressure to win games and therefore over-coach the players. As a result, at game time, and during practice, there is a constant barrage of comments directed at the player, making it impossible for the players to enjoy themselves and express themselves on the field.
What are the effects on players and coaches of over-coaching, both long and short term?
Mostly, the players end up quitting. They do not want to subject themselves to this hostile environment. They rebel against the pressures and hyper supervision of the adults. If they do hang on, as they get older, they lack creativity in their play, or the ability to solve the games’ problems by themselves. Thus, their development is retarded and they are no longer able to meet the demands of the game at the next level.
How can a coach know if they are over-coaching?
Usually, the players give big time signals that they are not enjoying themselves. Their body posture speaks loudly towards this end. They will also be very nervous while playing, and, perhaps more telling, when faced with a difficult game situation, they are unable to meet the demands of the game. Also, they rarely will ask questions to the coach in fear that they will again be told what to do. They might stop coming to practice and games, or, need to be forced to participate.
At what age is over-coaching most prevalent? Younger players or older?
It is prevalent at all ages, but I find it mostly in the 10-14 age group. Here, they are just starting to become players, and the coach’s expectations become a bit more demanding. Too many egos get involved.
Why do coaches over-coach?
Pressure to win, or an ego that is tied in with the success of their team.
What can be done to remedy the situation?
Soccer clubs and leagues need to monitor the situation carefully and remove the coach from their responsibility if necessary. The players need to come first. We must remember that the game belongs to the players, and that the game is the best teacher.
Can you give me a concise example of a scenario when over-coaching could happen, and how that particular situation could be fixed?
During the game: Coaches sub a player whenever he or she makes a mistake and lectures them on the sidelines how to fix the problem, instead of having the player work through some of their mistakes on the field, learning as they go. The coach constantly tells out to the players what to do during the game, before they do it. Such as shoot, hit it to the corner, take her to the corner. Instead of coaching after the fact such as, hey, do you remember the last time that you had the ball in the box, and there was only one defender between you and the goal?¦ well, next time you see that, try beating that defender and getting a shot on goal. Sometimes, comments are very appropriate, but if the coach finds himself chatting constantly, they should force themselves to sit back and relax.