Coaches need to give and guide, not command and correct.
This weekend, one of my coaches shared a great article with me written by Tim Elmore concerning one of my favorite topics: Coaching Style.
We want our players to think for themselves, to take ownership, and to play aggressively. We tell them this day-in and day-out. But as coaches, are we practicing what we preach?
Everything our children do today is scheduled. They are told what to do, where to go, and when to do it. From the time they are as young as three, there is an adult coaching them, training them, and officiating their games. Gone are the days of pick-up games in the yard, where we made up the rules and resolved our own problems. Today, an adult is always present to be the arbiter.
We want them to take responsibility, but we won’t allow them any slack. The leash is too tight too soon. We are terrified that they will make a mistake, that they will fail. We, the adults, need to be their saviors.
And then we wonder why they can’t think for themselves. We wonder why Johnny looks up in the stands for direction from his dad during the game. We wonder why they get paralyzed at decision time in a crucial situation.
We aren’t teaching them anything. We are trying to manufacture perfection. We are trying to make sure they never experience the inevitable - failure. And in doing so, we’ve done our children a disservice. We’ve taken away their resiliency. We’ve suppressed their creativity. We’ve stunted their growth.
Trust goes both ways. We want our players to trust us. In fact, we demand it. But do we trust them? Do we allow them to make mistakes or do they play with fear? When the big moment comes, do they know we have their backs? Or do they question their own preparedness?
Coaches, do we give and guide? Or do we command and correct?
Google Tim Elmore and read his leadership blog. And the next time you are tempted to control every decision your players make, give that leash some slack. Take a chance. Trust them. You may be surprised with how well they respond.