How Coaches Can Deal With Blowouts
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Mismatched games are often unavoidable at some point in a season. The mismatch might come from size or strength of skills, and it can cause a dramatic difference in score during the game. Many leagues have developed a "mercy rule" in which the clock runs out quicker after a certain score differential has been reached. There are varying opinions on this approach, but it's important for coaches to recognize that relying on the mercy rule to get through a mismatched game is not the only strategy.
Games with lopsided score boards may actually prove to be a great learning opportunity for both teams. If you're coaching a team that is dominating, consider putting in non-starters or encouraging players to play positions they aren't as comfortable with. Use this as a time to work on ball handling skills, for example.
It's always tough to be the coach of a team that's the underdog, but it's a good time to build character. Losing is a part of life, teaching this through sports allows kids to rebound and put the loss into perspective, with a coach's support. It’s also key to know ahead of time that this might be the unfortunate situation of your team during that match-up. If you are forewarned that you’ll be outmatched, try to emphasis a focus on what the athletes can control. You don’t want your kids feeling like they disappointed the coaching staff for not being able to keep up, and it’s important to set different standards of success in this situation.
No matter which side of a mismatched game you're coaching, it's important to make a plan ahead of time. Most of these situations are predictable based on past experiences so the coach should feel prepared to strategize prior to game time. This article discusses the mercy rule and gives more practical tips on how to handle a mismatched game situation.