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.