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Over-Coaching: How Much Is Too Much?

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

“Do we 'over-coach' our players? I have two sons, 13 and 16, who participate in a variety of sports. In baseball, for example, I notice coaches calling all the pitches. Is the result a more mechanical, thoughtless player? Does the game have less flow? My oldest recently participated in a track meet, where coaches aren't allowed on the field and yelling instructions from the stands is discouraged. My son explained after his event that several athletes were unable to 'self-correct' their mechanics. I wonder how many youth athletes have ever been that isolated from their coaches. Are the coaches to blame?”

PCA Response By Joe Scally, PCA Trainer-Chicago
The type of coaching you describe is all too prevalent. Among the reasons is a win-at-all-cost mentality that makes some coaches want to control every aspect of the game. 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 tend to feel that they must 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 do it even when it would be better to let players take the lead. Media images of over coaching coaches, pacing the sidelines and yelling out plays, model this type of behavior for youth sport coaches.

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