Hopefully, for most high school athletes, the high school experience is everything you hoped for. It should be fun, productive, engaging, and memorable. In some cases, a coach can ruin this experience for you.
Here are three examples of this:
Inexperience: In this situation, your coach may be diving into the sport for the first time. They may have never played or coached the sport; this would make them an amateur with limited knowledge. If this is the case, you may feel as though you are not getting the supervision and direction that you need or want. You may miss out on crucial opportunities—games, tournaments, meets—simply because your coach is not educated about the nuances of your sport. Our advice would be for you to play for that coach but also play outside of that particular organized team.
Focus on Favorites: Unfortunately, this is not as uncommon as one would hope. In many cases, a coach will “play favorites” and spend more time or direct more attention to the athletes that he or she see as special. When this happens, the coach unfairly dedicates more effort to particular athletes, as opposed to helping everyone on the team succeed, which may result in an athlete feeling underappreciated or unimportant. It is important to know that each and every athlete on a team contributes to the team’s success as a whole, in ways both big and small.
Too Hard or Too Soft: There is an exceedingly narrow line between being too hard or soft as a coach, and only the best coaches have mastered the art of walking that tightrope. On one end of the spectrum, a coach may be too tough on his or her athletes by yelling and screaming or by making rude comments. On the other end, a coach can be too easy, not pushing athletes to their limits in practice, or simply not motivational enough to drive success. Of course, a mix of all those traits are helpful in cultivating talented athletes, but the perfect formula is often difficult to find.
While it may feel discouraging if your coach behaves in a way that could make your high school experience anything short of spectacular, however, effective and polite communication goes a long way to better understanding one another. Still, in most cases, high schoolers graduate thinking of their coaches as influential role models. Those are the coaches who, we hope, are the rule as opposed to the exception.
* Originally published on February 16, 2018, by Meghan Malloy