Managing mistakes: How one coach is handling his emotions

Managing mistakes: How one coach is handling his emotions


By Lisa Licata

Senior Director, Professional Administrators 

National Alliance for Youth Sports

So many of us have seen how youth sports events can become an intense environment – a place where good intentions sometimes get sidelined by emotions.

It can happen to anyone.  

That’s why I am so proud of my friend for writing the email below to the parents of his youth soccer team after recognizing that he allowed his emotions to get the best of him for a few minutes during a U14 soccer game.

And letting everyone know it won’t happen again. Check it out:

From: "Coach XXXX”
Date: September 26, 2016 at 1:30:48 PM EDT
To: Parents of my U14 Boys Soccer Teams
Subject: Saturday's Game & Practice tonight

Good afternoon team!

Saturday’s game was to close for comfort but due to weather we got a lucky break and the game ended with a 4-3 victory. A last minute goal helped us seal the deal before the lightning.

I got a little excited on the sidelines and when I see the boys not performing well together I tend shout at them. My wife pointed out to me that my behavior can seem insensitive. I trust and appreciate her feedback so I thought it best to address this.

There is a fine line between being an angry, disrespectful coach and a passionate, excited coach. I promise you that I am never angry with the boys and I will never cross that line. I love and respect each and every one of my players and I would never demoralize them as a motivational tool. I am not an old school style coach but I can see how my behavior can bring to mind coaches like Bear Bryant or Bobby Knight. I am way more in tune with my behavior as a coach and I am sensitive to how my coaching affects the players and the parents.

With that being said, I will tone it down as best I can because I do not want to give anyone a false impression of who I am or what I represent. Nor do I want to detour any of my players from playing soccer in the future.

Alright. Enough said about that.

Please remember that we have practice tonight at 7:30PM. See you all tonight! Thanks!

Coach XXXX

As Nathaniel Branden, a well-known psychologist once said, “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”

So, how do you think the parents responded?

Unanimously, they had not recognized any bad behavior and they commended him for acknowledging his actions and committing to doing better – and remaining calmer – for the sake of all his players.

It’s not easy to stand up and admit you made a mistake to your team and all the parents.

But when coaches do so, and are truly committed to doing better to help their young players, it’s great to see.

And it’s a pretty good life lesson for players to see in action and learn from, too.

Soccer Coaching Behavior

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