To Be Enthusiastic or Not To Be Enthusiastic!


I recently had the opportunity to attend a high school basketball game between two very good local teams.  I generally choose to sit a few rows behind the home team’s bench.  I like to watch the team and see how the players interact with one another, and the coaching staff.  I also like to see how the head coach reacts to different situations.

This particular game has me sitting a few rows higher then normal as the match up has brought out several fans.  As the game gets underway, the coach I am observing is extremely enthusiastic.  He is shouting, gesturing and in my view trying to get his team to increase their level of intensity.  A gentleman behind me is sharing with his friend that he would not tolerate this behavior and that he would have given the coach a technical immediately and told him to sit down.  Granted, the coach was working the ref’s from the very onset of the game, but in a professional and sportsman-like way.  Isn’t this part of what the coach is supposed to do?

As the game continues, the coach continues to maintain his energy level.  I see him using a lot of different techniques to motivate players and help them learn from their mistakes.  He uses a combination of shouting, whispering, hugging and hand slapping.  All the while, his team is in the game, even though the other team is visibly taller and bigger and in most cases more athletic.

Motivating players and helping them find their confidence in a game is so critical to success.  I have coached in a lot of games and also watched a lot of coaches, trying to learn something from their styles.  In my opinion, I prefer the coach who is vocal, enthusiastic and animated.  What do you think?  I recognize that there is a fine line between enthusiastic and “overboard” — but what things fall on either side of that line?  Do you prefer a coach who dances up and down the sideline?  Or, would you rather have a coach that remains seated on the bench, occasionally barking out a play?

The coach maintained his energy and enthusiasm throughout the game and kept his team in the game to the very end but the other team pulled away late in the 4th quarter.  My sense was that his team left everything on the floor that night.  I would argue in large part due to the coaches energy, enthusiasm and keeping them focused and intense throughout the entire game.

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About rheadmore

I spend my working day at a great higher education institution by the name of Michigan State University. I try to spend a majority of my free time coaching youth sports, baseball and basketball are my favorites. This blog is dedicated to enhancing youth coaching and helping youth become successful and well contributing members of society. This philosophy was passed on to me by my father who always stressed leaving something better then the way you found it. I have been trying to live by those words for most of my adult life. Thanks for checking out my blog.
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7 Responses to To Be Enthusiastic or Not To Be Enthusiastic!

  1. Brian M says:

    Mr. Rhead, I am that coach who is constantly on my feet “talking” to my players. At times I may have a word for the officials as well. Having officiated before, I know how to keep this civil. I find that the perception from many fans/parents is that the coach who sits quietly just doesn’t seem into the game. If I have a team that is talented, and handling another team fairly easily, I may sit down a bit – -however – I usually can not do this very long. The second string players are now in and I feel the need to continue “coaching” these players just as hard as the first team. I think a very talented, and disciplined team may need less of this active coaching style, but these teams do not come along very often, especially at the Jr High and early High School level.

  2. Kath Edsall says:

    I agree completely. I have played for both and my children have played for both and I would much prefer the enthusiastic coach as long as he/she can stay positive and not use insults to motivate the players or antagonize the refs.

    • rheadmore says:

      Kath — Thanks for the comment. Great point. Too many times I have seen a coach use insults to try and motivate players. In my experience this creates nothing but resentment.

  3. CJL says:

    I am a visual learner and am also a vocal person thus I prefer the coach engage in the game and players in a positive way. I like my coach to be coaching the team the whole game and if it means walking the court so be it!!

    • rheadmore says:

      CJL – thanks for the comment. In my experience, players are influenced a great deal by their environment. While a coach cannot control every aspect — a coach who is “active-coaching” (term stolen from Brian M – thanks!!) it would seem should have the potential for a more positive outcome providing he/she is positive!

  4. Pingback: FRIDAY’S FREE-THROWS | Ball – You – Man

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