Tag Archives: negative

Screaming And Yelling

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In this post I WILL MAKE ABUNDANT USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS! In case you don’t know, writing in capital letters online means the writer is screaming or yelling the words. I will be using capital letters often in today’s post because I want to get to what I believe is a poor behavior among new coaches, which happens to be SCREAMING and YELLING at young players.

I’ve found that new coaches, regardless of sport, yell instructions at their players. The more the players mess up, the louder the coach gets. What I hear regularly during games all over the state of Georgia is, “WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? I TOLD YOU TO NEVER DO THAT!” Generally that statement is screamed at a youth player who just shot the ball from twenty yards out or lunged hard as a defenseman and got beat. The new youth coach doesn’t understand why the player would do such as thing when he screamed and yelled about not making those kinds of mistakes in practice. What the new coach does not understand is how to communicate effectively.

New coaches usually try to emulate coaches they see on TV. Unfortunately, the camera only focuses on the college or professional coach doing one of two actions. One, the coach is staring stoically at the field. Two, the coach is screaming to high heaven at his players or the officials. This is what new youth coaches see and then replicate during practice and games. Problem is the camera rarely catches what the coach is doing the most. Namely, communicating calmly with his coaches and players. The cameras don’t tape those exchanges because it makes for boring television. Because new youth coaches see extremes in coaching behavior, either silence or YELLING, they model their behavior after what they see as effective. After all if a successful college or professional coach is SCREAMING at his players all the time, it must be an effective tool.

Imagine for a moment a job where you have a boss or manager. During the entire day the boss either sits quietly in his office, occasionally peeking outside to make sure everyone is working, or venturing out of his office and SCREAMING LOUDLY AT YOU TO FINISH YOUR WORK! HE YELLS REPEATEDLY THAT YOU ARE MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES AS YESTERDAY AND HE IS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING FIRING YOU! After hearing that coach day after day either being silent or incredibly loud would you be enjoying your work? No! You’d be spending those precious quiet moments dreading your boss coming out of his office for another round of verbal whipping. That is what goes through the heads of youth players when all you do is go from one extreme, silence, to the other, being loud.

This loud behavior continues on the sidelines also. The new coach yells at his players even though they are three feet away from him, and often that yelling is neither positive nor instructive. I am often shocked that new youth coaches do not see how destructive their behavior is. Like the example above, their extreme behavior does not help them win games because it turns the coach’s players into scared kids who are more worried about disappointing their coach instead of focusing on making a good play. The problem is exacerbated during the season because the new coach, who is likely losing a few games, decides that the players aren’t listening to him and decides to yell louder and more frequently. The coach never realizes that his players are tuning him out. At that point, the coach cannot communicate effectively with his players because they no longer want to listen. He has SCREAMED them out of wanting to learn the game.

What then is a new coach supposed to do if they can’t yell at their players? Here are a few strategies to save your vocal cords:

  • If your going to yell, yell positive – I SCREAM and YELL all the time when I coach youth games. However, I try to make sure I am yelling positive comments to my players. I don’t yell out, “WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU THINKING?” I yell, “NICE ROLL DODGE!” There is a huge difference between yelling negatively and yelling positively. Kids will latch onto your words if they are positive. So find things during the game that your players are doing well and yell out your praise to them.
  • Keep yourself quiet when talking one-on-one – If I had a dollar for every coach I’ve seen scream into a youth player’s face I could retire. Screaming negatives doesn’t help when the kid is all the way across the field, and it certainly doesn’t help when you are face-to-face. I make sure that I lower the decible level of my voice whenever I speak to a kid on the sidelines. They often need encouragement if they just came off the field, especially if they made what they feel was a bad play. If they screwed up get down to their eye level and say the following, “You did a great job winning us that faceoff. Just make sure to pass the ball when you get double-teamed. If you do that you will probably get an assist or lead us to a goal.” That is two positives surrounding one negative, otherwise known as a praise sandwich. This technique, which I love, has worked wonders for me when I coach youth players because it reinforces what they did well and gives them advice on what to do when they hit the field.
  • Have a “pay attention” word – This is an excellent tool for getting a group of youth players focused on you and what is coming out of your mouth. Whenever I coach I have my team do the following: When I say “Eyes up!” The players must look at me and respond, “On you!” This gets all the players looking directly at me and gets them focused on what I am saying. If I’m in a loud environment I’ll raise my voice to be heard, but otherwise I calmly say what I want to say and break the huddle. Come up with your own “pay attention” word and tell me what it is in the comments section below.
  • Ask a parent or friend to watch you during practices and games – One effective tool in making sure you are not yelling out negatives is to enlist the help of someone you trust to watch you during practices and games with a clipboard in hand. Each time you yell something negative, your friend marks that on the clipboard along with any positive statements you make. After the practice or the game review the marks that your friend made. Your goal is to have fewer or zero negative marks and multiple positive marks. This is also a great way to show the kids’ parents that you are working on becoming a better communicator.
  • Never yell in anger – When adults yell in anger to kids the kids get scared. When they get scared, they screw up on the field. When they screw up on the field the coach yells even more and gets even angrier, which leads to more mistakes. That cycle can be stopped before it ever starts by making a commitment to yourself, and your coaching staff, to never yell in anger. If you feel yourself getting angry, pause for a moment, take a breath and remind yourself that angry communication is poor communication.

I hope this post has given youth coaches some insight into why yelling, especially yelling in anger, is not an effective tool when communicating to young athletes. Follow the strategies I set forth above, and you will be amazed at how much better your players respond to your coaching.

Cheers,
Gordon

How To Yell When Watching From The Sideline

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I like well-behaved parents/fans because I have been around a lot of ill-behaved ones. In nearly every youth game that I have officiated (U15 and below) there has been at least one, and usually two, fans screaming instructions to their player or entire team from the sideline. Often, it is incredibly poor advice. These are the same individuals who yell when their player is taken off the field, openly criticize the officials, and generally know next to nothing about how lacrosse is played.

I believe that there would be no problems on the fans’ sideline if every fan approached every game with the goal of contributing to a positive, sporting atmosphere. Unfortunately, there tends to be a few people that willfully ignore that idea. Believing that their yelling is helping their team. Here’s a hint: you are not helping. Take for example the parent that yells shoot when a player is twenty yards away from the goal. It accomplishes nothing more than getting the player amped up to take a shot. My personal favorite is when the Head Coach is yelling “hold the ball” and all the parents are yelling “shoot!” More often than not, the player will listen to the voice of their mother or father and take an ill-advised shot. Meanwhile their coach has his head buried in his hands, wondering if there is enough duct tape to put over the mouths of his team’s fans.

Another key thing to keep in mind is that your player recognizes your voice whenever you yell something during the game. I played in some very competitive high school games, and my father attended many of them. I could always recognize his voice from the stands. The kicker is he never said anything more than “Go, Gordon!” A coach with thirty plus years of experience in the game, and he never once gave me advice from the sideline. He knew his role was to root for me when I did well, and encourage me when things turned rough. I was never once embarrassed by my father’s comments from the sidelines, however I have been embarrassed for some of my teammates whose parents who thought their role was to assist the coaches from the stands.

So how do you yell when watching from the sideline? The easiest way to do this is to limit yourself to a few specific phrases:

  • “Go, (insert player name here)!”
  • “Great play!”
  • “Awesome defense!”
  • “Stay strong!”
  • “Keep playing hard!”

If you limit yourself to general statements about your player and your team, you don’t run afoul of the coach trying to do his job of running the offense or defense. Also, you can never get into the problem of giving bad advice to your player at a critical moment during a game. Plus, all of those phrases are extremely positive. Avoid yelling anything negative. For example, here are a few negative comments I have heard during games over the years:

  • “Put him in a body bag!” (This during a U11 game, I was stunned speechless)
  • “Destroy him!” (Would you want that yelled at your child?)
  • “Wake up!” (Accomplishes nothing more that getting the player nervous)
  • “That was the worst call I’ve ever seen!” (just making the Head Coach’s job more difficult, plus it sets a bad example for all the players)

If what you are about to yell is not positive it is best to swallow your comment. Here’s a short article on why yelling at your player negatively is not the best course of action: www.momsteam.com/successful-parenting/yelling-from-the-sideline-can-be-emotional-abuse.

Lacrosse is an emotional game. I do not expect parents and fans to be robots on the sidelines. I want people to get into the flow of the game. To feel the excitement that is inherent in competitive sports. What I do not want is for any kid to get discouraged while playing the game because one or more individuals feels it is necessary to share their opinion with everyone at the game. Enjoy the game in a positive manner or stay silent.

Finally, I leave you with the following card from US Lacrosse:

Sportsmanship Card

Remember to honor the game with your actions anytime your team steps onto the field.

Featured Image Credit – www.mogosport.wordpress.com/category/youth-sports-parents/

Cheers,
Gordon Corsetti

Above The Influence

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I believe every kid should have a passion. That passion should be something that makes them feel terrific and proud about themselves. I also believe that if a kid is passionate about whatever they do that they will avoid drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.

To all of the players out there reading this – you’ve likely heard the drug speech. Which entails something like drugs aren’t cool, there is a reason people call it dope, and drugs will rot your brain. I remember taking a pledge in elementary school during D.A.R.E. week, sponsored by Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It went something like this:

I know who I am and I know that I want to stay healthy and happy. 
I can stand up for myself and stick to my decision to live a drug-free life. 
I can ask for support from my family, friends, teachers and even the police. 
I pledge to say “No” to offers to use drugs and alcohol. 
I can help others say “No” to drugs and alcohol.

While the avoiding drugs arguments are good, and the pledge is quite empowering I do not believe any of it works unless a child has a passion.

That passion can be anything. Maybe it is lacrosse, skateboarding, writing, painting, running, singing, dancing, archery, fishing, or any of a million other things. The point here is to latch onto an activity that moves your soul, and defend it from drugs and alcohol at all costs. I’ll give you a personal anecdote about how I abstained from all of these vices as I went through my younger years and teens.

I loved martial arts. In fact, there is a picture of me as a baby wearing a karate uniform – it goes that far back. Without Tae Kwon Do in elementary and middle school, and kickboxing and jiu-jitsu in high school, I can tell you unequivocally that I would have tried drugs, alcohol or cigarettes at least once. Yet I steered clear of all of them because I was ridiculously passionate about my martial arts training.

Through martial arts I made friends that were similar to me, and were very good people. It was these people that constantly kept me on the straight and narrow path. I never had to worry about a friend saying, “hey you want to try some weed,” because my friends were all too busy trying to get better at martial arts. I never tried cigarettes because I didn’t want to negatively impact my conditioning in kickboxing. I never tried alcohol or drugs because if my parents ever found out they would stop paying for my martial arts classes.

My passion became a shield that kept drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes away, but also had a very positive side-effect: I became more discerning when choosing friends outside of my martial arts academy. If someone I knew was involved in something foolish, I knew to not associate with them. Players, you may not realize it now, but the friends you keep say a lot about you. Your friends will either try to get you do to good, productive things or stupid, ill-advised things. Pick the good ones.

So to all of the players out there let me ask you – do you have a passion? Are you willing to defend it from anything that would take it away from you? In short, are you Above The Influence?

Featured Image Credit – www.brandon123.deviantart.com

Cheers,
Gordon