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You Might Be A Bad Coach If …


In almost thirty years of coaching I have never met anyone who has said “you know what Dave, I want to be a bad coach”. Not one single person! This is kind of interesting because we all can name at least one bad coach. Heck, I’m willing to bet that you can name at least one bad coach in your own league!

Nevertheless, even though most of us start our coaching careers with pure intentions, some of us will slip along the way. This article was written to help those who might have unconsciously slipped and need a wake up call.

Here are 7 signs that you might be a bad coach:

Bad Coach

Sign #1: Players not only dislike you BUT they are afraid of you.

Coaches are said to be in the people-business. Why? Because so much of what coaches do are dependent on relationships. Relationships between coaches and players, coaches and parents, coaches and trainers and even coaches and coaches.  While not everyone of your players is going to be a lifelong friend, you need them to at least respect you enough so that you can teach and communicate with them for the greater good of the team. If players are afraid of you, they will be more hesitant to ask questions and seek your counsel. If you are finding your players hesitant to come to you with questions, it might be time to come off your pedestal and find some common ground.

Sign #2: Your standards are not clear

One of the biggest frustrations players have with their coaches is that they feel like their coaches are not clear and consistent with what they want. In order to be successful you need to manufacture a culture in which success can breed. Success cannot breed if your standards are inconsistent. Even worse, players might start to disrespect you for being inconsistent.

Sign #3: Your coaching staff feels that they work FOR you and not WITH you

I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. For the majority of high school and club assistant coaches they receive no salary or stipend for their time. Instead, their motive for doing what they do is either A) to help the kids B) because they love the game of basketball or C) because they enjoy working with the other coaches. If an assistant feels undervalued or underappreciated by their head coach, they might want to leave or worse not perform to their best ability.  Sometimes is not the team with the best talent that wins but the team with the best coaching staff. Bottom line; value your assistants.

Sign #4: You want to control everything

I don’t like working for a control freak, my guess is that you don’t like working for a control freak. So why is it that so many head coaches have this need to control every aspect of the program? Isn’t basketball a team sport? Or is that something we just tell our players?

Sign #5: You are very indecisive

One of the best parts of being a head coach is that you know that your decisions are going to directly influence the success of the team. Yet, the pressure of the success causes many coaches to be indecisive in their decision making. A good example of this can be seen by analyzing how other coaches perform during time outs. Regardless of whether timeouts are spontaneous or planned coaches have at most sixty seconds to communicate a message. In this situation, every single second counts. If a coach cannot make a decision on what’s the best plan moving forward or if he or she wastes valuable time having to think of a plan on the spot the team suffers. It is my belief that indecisiveness comes with a lack of confidence. The only way to improve your confidence is to spend time mastering your craft. Bottom line; if you can’t or aren’t ready to make the big decisions you probably shouldn’t be at the front of the bench.

Sign #6: The glass is always half empty

“That was the worst shot I have ever seen!” “You call that defense!?” “What in the world were you thinking!?” “If you play like this tomorrow night the JV team could beat you!” If you are someone who utters phrases like these over and over to your athletes, you may be in trouble. Throughout the course of a season your team will experience its fair share of its ups and downs. During these down times your players will look to you to be hopeful, enthusiastic, passionate and positive. If you cannot demonstrate these four qualities in times of need, it might be a long season for you and your team.

Sign #7: You refuse to take accountability

Coaches who are quick to blame others and almost all to eager to bask in the limelight are people who receive little respect amongst their coaching staff and players. Instead if you make a mistake in front of your team make an apology in front of your team. For example, if you find yourself screaming or mistreating a player (which is never expectable but it does happen) during a drill, you need to apologize in front of the team. Apologizing behind closed doors will create even more of a divide between you and your team. Making a public apology and owning up to your mistake shows your team that accountability is a part of your team’s identify.

Written By Dave Stricklin

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