David Jacobson | @coachdavejake
As a coach, you may have recognized in yourself the temptation and tendency to “over-coach” during competition. Too often, “coaching well” is confused with incessant instruction and “attention to detail” veers into micromanagement.
Why does this happen? In The Double- Goal Coach, PCA Founder and Executive Director Jim Thompson describes the “Romance of Leadership,” a concept he first heard of from Jeff Pfeffer at the Stanford Business School. The idea is that coaches often feel that they should be making things happen. They are aware that others may perceive the “hands-on” coach as doing a better job.
Also, exercising authority can feel good, so coaches may succumb to that temptation even when letting players take the lead would yield better results. Plus, media images of coaches pacing the sidelines and yelling out plays leaves the impression that that is how big-time coaches succeed. Therefore, youth lacrosse coaches may fall into the trap of emulating those they admire, despite the radically different goals and environments between pro sports and youth sports.
Whatever the reason coaches overly insert themselves into games, it often is better to let players make decisions for themselves during competition. A coach’s constant instruction can distract players, and eventually some players may tune out and miss the pieces of instruction or information that matter most.
More importantly, over-coaching prevents players from thinking on their feet during a game. In turn, players lose the uniquely valuable opportunity to learn as much as possible about lacrosse through their own trial and error. Most importantly, that lost opportunity on the field means a squandered chance for players to apply their on-field understanding of cause and effect, self-awareness and continuous improvement to other aspects of their lives.