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Excessive coaching impairs development (and makes players want to quit)


We’ve seen it all thousands of times …

A coach who moves through the sidelines constantly barks instruction to their players.

> “Go to Kelly!”

> “Turn the ball!”

> “Set up a screen for Jimmy!”

The toughest coaches can often steal the show and make sure everyone knows they have the lead.

These are the coaches with a red face who grumble through a lapse of time, who sniff at the players every time they make a mistake and blink the whiteboard when the referee calls badly.

All these coaches have one thing in common:

Over-coaching.

At youth basketball level, over-coaching is booming, with some adults and men looking more like rabid dogs than the teachers and mentors they should be.

This approach does much more harm than good.

Of course, a player can be frustrating as a player with a set or wrong reading, but the coach’s explosion of the coach never makes things better.

The problem with over-coaching at the youth level is simple:

It impairs development and robs young players of the joy of the game.

Let’s discuss …

What is over-coaching?

Over-coaching can be difficult to define, but you definitely know it when you see it.

You can Hear it too.

Walk into any gym that hosts a U10 tournament, and the coach’s call will usually exceed the squeak of sneakers.

Over-coaching usually involves players flooding too much information.

If you want an example of what’s going on, remember the last time you saw a coach running an entire possession from the sidelines.

When that happens, young players become paralyzed from indecision.

The coach shouts ‘make the extra pass!’ … their father shouts ‘shoot it!’ … while the player’s initial thought was to attack the ring.

Panicked and overwhelmed by all the instructions that clash with their instincts, the player either (1) does nothing or (2) makes a mistake.

This pressure paralyzes them and makes playing ‘in the moment’ almost impossible.

Here’s what John Wooden had to say on the subject:

“Over-coaching can be more harmful than under-coaching. I think the trend is that inexperienced coaches give too much information. The younger coach will sometimes try to impress his youngsters with how much he knows. If you coach too much, you are not doing very well. ”

John Hout

Examples of over-coaching in basketball

The most important example I will refer to in this article are coaches who constantly tell players what to do during matches, but ‘over-coaching’ comes in many different forms:

Other examples include:

1. Add too much “strategy”

I have seen coaches try to teach a U8 basketball team 3 offenses, 3 defenses and 8 plays.

To expect young children to learn and retain so much information is absurd.

2. Make too many changes during a timeout

If you are speaking during a timeout, I always recommend keeping 1 or 2 points of information.

More than that and players will be so overwhelmed that they will forget everything.

3. Giving a player too many responsibilities

If you take a player to the side before the game and give them 6 things to remember, they will be overwhelmed and forget the vast majority of them.

Again, too much information only leads to confusion.

4. Too many corrections while teaching shooting form

“Bend your knees more, turn your feet slightly, tuck your elbow in, do not swing your hand with your balance, make sure you keep your flow, etc.” – that’s too much!

Identify the biggest problem and concentrate on it, instead of blowing up a player with 100 clues.

Watch this awesome video of Nolan Richardson talking about excessive coaching:

Why over-coaching impairs development

Because it comes in many different forms, excessive coaching affects players in different ways.

Here are some of them:

1. Players get confused and nervous

The most obvious reasons are that over-coaching leaves players confused and nervous.

If the coach tells you to succeed, a parent tells you to shoot, and your brain tells you to drive, all this information will lead to confusion.

Confusion leads to nervousness, which results in worrying and poor decisions (mistakes).

2. Players do not make their own decisions

When a coach calls out exactly what he needs to do, players follow instructions instead of reading the game and making their own decisions.

And if players cannot make their own decisions, they will not gain experience and learn.

3. Excessive coaching impairs a player’s confidence

If you bark at a player, you can not trust it.

Players do not want (or should) be told what to do every second of the game.

And they certainly do not need to hear you scream every time they make a mistake.

4. Players will stop listening to you

If you say less, what you say will have a greater impact.

If you never stop talking on the sidelines, players will start to tune.

5. Remove players from their “flow” state

Over-coaching leads to overthinking.

And if players think too much, it is impossible for them to play at the best performance.

6. Take the fun out of the game

It should go without saying after reading the other five reasons.

How is a child meant to have fun when they are confused, nervous and lacking in confidence?

Reasons why excessive coaching occurs

There are several reasons why excessive coaching is so common.

Let’s discuss some main motives:

1. They want to show everyone that they are responsible

Unfortunately, some youth coaches you encounter have wide egos.

These people want everyone to know how smart they are when they do coaching.

They want to be seen as the authority figure … the reason for the team’s success … so they patrol along the sidelines and use a loud voice to show everyone how much knowledge they have.

They want to be the “chess master” who moves their little chess pieces around.

2. They feel pressured to win and prove themselves

Similar to the point above, except that these coaches have less ego and are insecure.

This often applies to novice coaches in their first or second season.

3. They do not realize that it harms development

There are also those who over-coach, simply because they do not realize how much it impairs the development and enjoyment of their players.

(I am writing this article for these people)

Many of these people will change their ways as soon as they realize the truth.

4. They do not realize that they are doing it

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment as a basketball coach.

Something I recommend all coaches do at least once is hold a microphone and record yourself during games and exercises.

You will be amazed at how useless and incoherent most of what you say is.

5. They do not have confidence in their players

Another time that overcoaching occurs is when coaches do not believe in their players.

This lack of faith is manifested through the flood of information that characterizes over-coaching.

These coaches try to control every bit of movement and every decision.

6. They feel they have to do ‘something’

The truth is: it can be hard to just sit on the couch and keep quiet.

As a coach, you feel you have to actively do ‘something’ that helps the team.

This is not always true, as Phil Jackson tells us:

“If there is one misconception about coaching, it is that we are not engaged if we do not shout at the referees or increase the sideline.”

Phil Jackson

What coaches should do first:

What coaches should do instead varies depending on the type of over-coaching taking place.

Below I give some scenarios and how I can recommend them.

1. Instead of constantly patrolling along the sidelines…

Spend more time sitting on the couch with your mouth closed.

Realize that you are doing more damage than managing every possession of the game.

2. Instead of adding 7 transgressions and 18 plays …

Install one good offense like the 5-out movement or Read and respond.

It has several options from each location, so you have no trouble attacking any defense.

Then add 2 or 3 baseline + fixed plays.

3. Instead of giving 14 advice during a time-out …

Keep your countdown time simple.

Concentrate on the one or two major changes that need to be made.

4. Instead of giving a player too many responsibilities …

Same as the advice on timeouts.

If you want a player to remember what you said and execute it on the floor, stick to one or two points instead of overwhelming it with hundreds of snippets of information.

5. Instead of adjusting 5 corrections to the shooting form of a player …

Focus on one change that will make the biggest impact.

Then give them time to make and find the change.

Once they have done this successfully, move on to the next thing.

Last thing …

After the article, there is one thing I want to make clear.

Over-coaching usually comes from a good place.

Most adults who overtrain do so because they really want their players to be successful, and they believe that they will provide as much information as possible to their team.

(There are those who do this mainly because they obviously want to be the center of attention, but that is far from the majority.)

If I know it, it gives me hope.

Coaches who learn the negative impact of over-coaching and change their behavior will create an environment to maximize development and enjoyment.



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