Tuesday, April 1, 2008

To be Coached or not to be Coached... that is my poll question!


First it was captains. Someone needed to organize rides and collect money
Then it was player coaches. You can't expect them to sit on the sidelines all weekend
Then it was youth and college coaches. So much to teach.

Coaches for club teams.

It's a trend that's growing. First it was the injured player, the boyfriend of the female star captain, or the retired star. These people were really managers in leaders clothing. Now we're actually seeing strategic people being brought in with a background in player development and/or real world leadership experience.

"Flanders"! (Source: Wikipedia)

I've played for a good coach for several years, and although I have never been a favorite (probably for good reason) I think my team and myself are much better for it. Having a coach has many advantages and perhaps disadvantages:

  • One voice
  • Knowledge from a good coach can make a greater difference on ultimate teams (given the sport and the level of play/expertise) than more mature sports. For example, the expertise of a great mlb baseball manager can affect his team by +- 5-10 games. I hypothesize ultimate teams can get much more improvement.
  • Organized practices
  • Sober second though during games from someone not in the state of physical exhaustion
  • Someone who has no bias to play time
  • Coaches can last longer than players.. so it adds continuity to a team/program
  • Good coaches are hard to find
  • Good leaders are even more scarce in every walk of life
  • Athletes have a very tough time figuring out what kind of coach they need, as opposed to what they want
  • Coaches are rarely appreciated or safe in volunteer positions from politics and conventional wisdom
What's your preference? For club teams, should the leadership structure be
  • Coach?
  • Player Coach?
  • Player Captain(s)?
  • Captain(s)?
  • Other?


Hodge said...

The biggest benefit of a coach in my opinion is that you can focus on your own game, s/he is worrying about the actual outcome of the game. Too many times in Ultimate the 'captain' thinks that he is the best player on the field and will put her/himself out there in tough situations even if they are too tired to actually compete.

jhaig said...

Coaching also requires a lot more thinking and focus than you'd think. Even a task as simple as calling lines can take a lot of focus away from your individual performance.

For that reason alone having a non-player coach can be very valuable, assuming they are someone who has the respect of their players.

Sport Management Steven said...

"assuming they are someone who has the respect of their players."

Oh so true.

Respect of their players, or credibility as it is termed in leadership circles, is maybe the toughest thing for an ultimate coach to get. It's also one of the toughest things to keep. A vote of confidence based on past playing glory or captain support can dissipate pretty quickly.

jhaig said...

That being said I think the same is true for your player captain or player coach. The difference is that I think it's easier for player coaches to gain respect because they can do it by going out and playing hard and well. Where as a coach can really only talk.

Anonymous said...

A coach is someone who can lift up others to realize their inherent greatness. With that in mind, I think it is important to have both a coach, someone you can trust on the sidelines, and a player captain, someone you can trust on the field.
And the interaction between the coach and the captain must be so that they are able to put both perspectives together and establish a game plan.