8 Coaching Mistakes to Avoid

Most of us don’t have to be coaching more than one season to realize there are things we could or would like to do better.  If we reflect after a practice or game, at the end of a season, or at the end of the year, we all typically recognize mistakes that we have made.  Perhaps it was in our practice plan or execution, our emotions or coaching points during a match, the way we handled a situation with a player or parent (or both,) or maybe just our overall approach to the art of coaching.

I recently came across a repost from The Soccer Toolbox of an article by John O’Sullivan, founder of Changing the Game Project in which he addresses mistakes he made early in his coaching and how he tried to address them. Below is a recap of that article, the full text can be viewed HERE,

I hope that they spark some thoughtful reflection and potentially some guidance. I have also included some additional “Coach Growth and Development” resources after the recap.  As most of us head into a new season this Spring it might be a great opportunity to wipe the slate clean and give a fresh approach to our players.

8 Coaching Mistakes to Avoid

By John O’Sullivan

Here are eight things I wished I never did as a coach, and what I should have done instead:

  1. I Focused on Outcomes (Instead of Learning)
    • Instead of focusing on “did we win?” I should have focused on “did we learn?” 
  2. I Focused on Being Serious (Instead of Enjoyment)
  3. I Tried to Inspire by Demeaning
    • Instead of being demeaning, I needed to be a demanding coach.
    • Demanding coaches make their athletes’ eyes shine, while demeaning coaches extinguish the fire
  4. I Took Credit for the Good and Blamed Others for the Bad
    • Instead, I should have given them credit for success, and personally owned more of their failures. 
  5. I Did Lots of Talking
    • I was very good at lecturing my kids, when instead I needed to be a better listener. 
  6. I Acted Like a General (Instead of a Teacher):
    • I should have guided and mentored them and accepted failure as a natural part of the learning process 
  7. I Used Fear as a Motivator (Instead of Love)
    • Instead, I should have been more like today’s most successful coaches, and motivated through love and connection
    • No athlete will play harder for a coach then one who feels cared for and loved.
  8. I Knew it All (Instead of being Humble):
    • Instead of wasting years being a know it all, I needed to be humble, curious, and a life-long learner.

Coaches, we owe it to the kids to honestly evaluate our coaching, and if necessary, hit the reset button like I did. 

Additional Resources

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