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freshmen basketball

I just attended a freshman high school basketball game. This game happened to be with an inner city team participating against a well to do school. Immediately the suburban school took a commanding lead. The inner city coach was continually barking orders to his players, even going past the mid court line to yell instructions. On a few occasions as soon as one of his players made a mistake he was yanked from the game. This went on for the entire first half the team was getting blown out.
             Even with all his constant instructions and reprimands the kids were not playing well!!! The kids started to talk back to him and the three kids sitting on the bench, yes he only had eight players, were frustrated. When he admonished them for something that was going on the court they were dumbfounded. Why was he yelling at those boys sitting on the bench for problems that were going on in the game?
            During the half time he was nonstop talking to his players. Once the other team came back out on the court you could see his players being distracted. They just wanted to play basketball. They had had enough of the barking at them, the constant instructions and criticism. The coach even announced to the general public as the second half started that he had such a headache that he could not talk as much. Lo and behold his team started to play better. As soon as they got within 12 he started up again and down the drain they went. At one point, and I stopped counting at this point he yelled out instructions to one of his players during the first three quarters 23 times!!!
            Now let me explain what I interpreted from this game and why I do seminars and give talks about youth sports to coach’s schools, organizations, parents, and children, sometime on a one on consulting basis.
             First, there is no such thing as multi tasking. Scientists have proven that. An athlete, in this case, just goes from thing to another more quickly than someone else. Two, a player on the court is making more than one decision a second on the court. If you doubt that, go watch a game and just follow one player for a bit. Count the decisions he or she makes. Three, constant yelling just confuses the situation. Coaches sees college and pro coaches yelling and doing all sorts of gyrations and attention getting hysterics on the sideline during TV games and try to emulate that behavior. There is no connection between what a professional or college does on the sidelines to a high school or youth sports coach, none. These are highly paid professionals who know on some level that they could never have this kind of job with this kind of prestige with this kind of money in any other area of their lives.  They need to win to keep that lifestyle alive and, quite frankly, many get addicted to it as you saw with legendary coach, Joe Paterno at Penn State.
            During the game there were assorted JV and Varsity players of the suburban school in the stands. I started to question them about what was happening on the court. Here is the unanimous consensus from these players. Players, within the first quarter, turn the coach off who is constantly yelling instructions at his players, whether positive or negative. Ironic isn’t it, the more the coach yells the less the players listen.
             Next, I asked the kids whether they would tolerate this for very long. All said eventually they would quit. They also said they had many friends who had coaching like this that no longer play sports. I then asked the kids if the coach then started to praise or try to be nice to the kids, how they would react. All said too late, they were done.
            The coach could not see what I could see behind him. The kids just wanted to play, he even asked at one point who wanted to go in? One player who did not get much playing time raised his hand and was ignored. When he was finally put in he played a couple of minutes, got yelled at and was pulled out of the game. So how could he get better sitting on the bench? Why would he try anything creative on the floor? Why would he be anything but a robot? He just wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience with his teammates.
             After the game a friend I was sitting with said I should give the coach a copy of the book I am writing on youth sports. (It’s called STOP THE TSUNAMI IN YOUTH SPORTS. Achieving balanced excellence and health while embracing the value of play for fun.)
            So I asked the ref after the game what he saw. He said the coach had to get his kids going at the beginning of the game because they were lethargic. Maybe that explains how they got down 15 points in the first 8 minutes. Imagine what would have happened if the coach hadn’t yelled at the kids so much?????
            I then talked to the suburban coach. He was very gentle and easy going with his players and made a point of getting all the players into the game more than once. He said that this coach had improved and was one of the better coaches. O.K., I guess if we are lowering our standards for coach’s behavior we should do the same for the layers, shouldn’t we???
I have attended over 1,000 youth sport, travel sports, elite youth sports, modified, freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity games over the last 4 years. I have attended well over 200 practices. My point here is not to single out a particular coach, player, ref, parent, or fan to criticize and attack them. What I am trying to show is that this happens a lot more than anyone realizes. Sometimes, it happens so often it is taken as the rule, or the way things are. NO it is not. My mission is to return the fun to high school, modified, youth and travel sports through education. It is my goal to be able to go to a game and see good competition, good competitors having a great time. I am trying to educate as to the reality of the situation and the consequences of those actions and reactions to our children and their parents coaches referees and organizations.

Written by : VJS