I have been coaching HS lacrosse for the better part of 20 years. Within that time, my style has changed several times. This mostly has been because of my advancing age. I am now 43 and have arrived at the style that I feel has been the best.
A few years ago, our program asked Joe Erhman to speak. He had a session with the parents, players and staff. All individually. It was then that my philosophy/style changed. I had to change. My way, while getting results, was not something I was terribly proud of nor the way I wanted to be.
I would coach through intimidation and unreasonable expectations. Many a practice or game I could be heard tearing a player up and down about a bad pass or missed slide. That meeting with Joe made me realize what the reasons should be for coaching HS players:
Purpose: To teach young men to be committed to a cause outside of self, loyal to one another and work toward becoming productive members of society.
Committment: Show by example how to be all in
Loyalty: Give my players more off the field than on
Service: Teaching that giving with no expectations is more satisfying than receiving
Success: To seem my players become strong husbands, fathers and people.
Has anyone of my players thrown the ball away on purpose? Of course not. Have they allowed there man to get topside on purpose? No way. Do they get screamed at when missing a question in math class? Nope. So why, as a person who is "teaching", would I treat anyone that way? Because my definition of winning was simply based on wins and losses.
Do we still hold our players accountable for their actions? You bet. We are fortunate enough to have a large program due to the great people at the youth level. So, we have the ability to sit a player who is not performing the way everyone wants. But, instead of screaming, volume doesn't determine the level of understanding, we correct and encourage. That player will have to prove his way back on the field but now he has been treated like a valued person and hopefully will be a player better with the instruction given.
Do I raise my voice? Sure. I'm human. It's progress, not perfection. But, I rarely yell about physical mistakes. It's ok to make mistakes. How else will players learn? Mental mistakes make me nuts. But they players are children. It's going to happen.
So, now I LOVE going to practice ten times more than any games. Because I can interact with our young men. Get to know then and be a part of their lives on and off the field. It's about relationships. It's about lessons being learned through athletics. It's about a game being fun for all involved.
I always want to be a better, more knowledgeable coach. I enjoy collecting drills and plays which is why I really enjoy this site. I am a better coach simply for changing my expectations and what winning means to me. I want to coach not to win, but make a difference in the lives of our players.
I hope this is not new to you. That it's just a confirmation you are doing the right thing. Many of you are. If not, I hope you give thought to your style and philosophy.