Baloney, bunk, bunkum, claptrap, drivel, foolishness, hogwash, idiocy, ludicrousness, poppycock, ridiculousness, rigmarole, tomfoolery, twaddle, jeez, wow, unbelievable, my gosh, how in the world, oh my, yikes, ouch, and %$&@^! These are all words that express utter exasperation because your team will not do what you say on the field. When these words fail to express your feelings I highly recommend the facepalm.
“A facepalm is an expression referring to the physical gesture of striking one’s own face in a display of exasperation. In Internet discussions, the term is used as an expression of embarrassment, frustration, disbelief, disgust or general woe. It is also used to when the person making the gesture does not believe that words can express the level of idiocy” (wikipedia).
I can say the following with complete certainty. There will be at least one time, and probably many times, when your team or your player does something so remarkably foolish that you will be stunned into silence. You will tell your team, “Ok boys we are ahead by one goal and there are two minutes left. Do not shoot the ball.” Well the very first opportunity that little Johnny has he is going to rip one and the other team is going to recover the ball and clear it up the field. All the while you are cradling your face in your hands because the message did not get through.
I call these times moments of temporary idiocy and that is not meant as an insulting statement. In fact it is one of the truest statements I can make as a former player. There were times where I have headhunted an attackman because he burned me on the last play. There were times where I completely forgot I was the second slide. However, the big daddy moment of temporary idiocy I once had was I forgot to bring my helmet to practice. Take it from a former player. We will make mistakes.
While players make mistakes it is your job as coaches to rise above them. The coaches that do not rise above fall into one of two categories: stone silence, or the great howler. The stone silence coach literally does not say a word for the rest of the game. Don’t believe me? I have officiated high school games where the head coach actually stops moving and just stares forward completely oblivious to the game around them. Then there is the great howler, which may be the more entertaining of the two but is also the most damaging. This coach starts yelling more and more at players on the field, players on the bench, the girl running the box, his assistant coaches, and the officials. Eventually his decible level will rise to just below a John Deere lawnmower but by the end of the game it will subside to that of an injured cat.
Do not get me wrong there are some great coaches out there who yell, but they are yelling positive instruction that focuses a team to accomplish a goal. That is an effective coach who just likes to be vocal. However, I have a legitimate gripe against the great howler because that type of coach yells just to yell. For some reason he believes yelling his instructions louder it will penetrate deeper into his player’s brains. What always catches my eye after a game with the great howler is how dejected his players look. Imagine if your boss yelled at you for an entire hour while you were doing your work. By the end of the day you will probably be looking for the nearest sharp object.
What the stone silence and great howler coach do not understand is that both are failing at the two jobs required of a coach. Those jobs are to teach skills and communicate action. Regarding skills, the best coaches will have an assistant or parent writing down mistakes from the stands. At the end of the game they look at the list and can see that eight of their players had trouble picking up ground balls. That means there will be a lot of ground ball drills at the next practice. The next game their team will probably be pretty good at ground balls but not so great at clearing so the next practice will focus on clearing. These coaches understand that the time to correct mistakes of skill are during practice but the time to communicate action never ever ceases.
Before the first practice this season make a list of in-game mistakes that drive you absolutely crazy because those mistakes will take your focus off your job of coaching your team. If you understand your triggers before the games get going you will be well prepared for the mistakes that will happen. Also, practice the facepalm. It will communicate every word above in one simple gesture to your entire team.
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