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Why Running Isn’t a Solution for Disciplining Your Players

January 28, 2014    27626 Views

David Jacobson | @positivecoachus

Running isn't Discipline

Jim Cowsert

One of the ultimate ironies of sports occurs when coaches discipline “lazy” players by making them run.

Why is that ironic?

Because it is lazy coaching.

If your players need conditioning, help them get it. If your players need discipline, help them get that. But don’t fall back on running as discipline.

There at least two reasons why running as discipline is an incorrect approach:

  1. Your players will come to despise running and other forms of conditioning because it feels like punishment. You want them to enjoy running so that they want to become the best-conditioned athletes possible.
  2. You are abandoning an opportunity to teach life lessons about discipline, which is best done by talking about the subject and setting an example by exercising the discipline necessary to coach well.

For example, let’s say that in an intra-squad scrimmage, your players have trouble passing or receiving on the run. Don’t default to punishing them with extra running. Instead, recognize the problem as one of insufficient practice at these skills.

Address both issues at once by interrupting the scrimmage and instead of ordering laps in the name of “discipline,” conduct a fast-paced drill that demands running, passing and receiving. This way, the players’ skills and conditioning both improve.

You also avoid resentment that builds from mindless, endless laps. You make the practice fun, so that players will want to continue acquiring the skills and conditioning they need. Finally, you demonstrate creativity and discipline in your problem solving.

You then can explain to your players after the drill that instead of knee-jerk reactions like running laps, creativity and true discipline are better approaches to problem solving in lacrosse and in life.

Over to you. What alternatives to running as discipline have you used with your team? Suggest ideas for other coaches in the comments section.


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