Home / Articles-Drills /Featured /Featured-Bottom /Freebies / Article: Lacrosse Coach Game Demeanor

coach-mike-peek-to-cropMost great coaches are well versed in the advantages of studying film. In the last HS Varsity game in which I coached, which happened to be a State Championship, we had the unfortunate experience to go two men down at a critical part of the game, in an electric stadium, against a great coach. We set up in our four-man box, waited for them to rotate the passes around, change sets, and then when they went into their first set of plays, we jumped to shooter number one, covered adjacent and covered shooter number two. I was truly banking on the fact that they were so well coached they would adhere to the script.

We totally sold out our zone based on film study and simply had a little luck as well. We frustrated their Man Up to a degree, survived the penalties and it changed the momentum of the entire game. All based on the preparation and film study. We went on to lose in Double OT so maybe I am not such a good coach anyway.

But the point is the film helped divert a potential crisis. So here is my question, what if you were to watch an entire game film of your performance and conduct on the sidelines?

[private]Some of you know that in my “other life” you know the life that pays the mortgage I am a nationally recognized author and Corporate Keynote Speaker on Leadership. I remind audiences that in University studies conducted since the mid 1900s communication is fundamentally based on body language and Tone of Voice. Frankly, according to most research the words themselves account for only 7% of the way the message is communicated.

Thus my hypothetical example, what if you were to watch a game film exclusively based on filming your actions and tone of voice during an entire game? How might we react? My guess is denial is the first step, but once we get past that would you be proud? Might you be embarrassed? See areas that could and should be improved? What is the true message you are sending to your players? Are you enough of a Coach to even think about the possibilities?

Leadership on the sidelines can be a slippery slope when confronted with emotion and frustration. I have to shake my head when I see Coaches that are so frustrated by their players who are out of control, they attempt to Coach or should I use the corporate phrase, “attempt to modify behavior”…by emulating similar behavior. Is there anything worse than a Coach screaming at a player who in turn screams back, all in front of what is supposed to be a unified team working towards the same goal. Welcome to the slope, you are a Coach, and thus need to be a Leader…by example. Last I checked it is still just a lacrosse game, and tomorrow is still tomorrow.

And those that might assume that a calm sideline demeanor exemplifies a lack of passion talk to someone who has coached or played for me. It is a matter of control. Most of us would agree that the players we Coach are pretty good people trying to be successful. It is behavior we may need to modify. In other words a set of actions might be less than desirable but the people are still …pretty good kids. If you feel the need to scream at your players remember to address their actions, not their integrity. My friend Mike Neill always says people are good, it is behavior that can be bad.

Missing an assignment does not make a player an idiot; it means that they missed an assignment. Address the action or behavior rather than a personal attack on the player. If your players do not respect you it is even more difficult to be an inherent part of their success. And based on my research trust in today’s world with today’s players is even more of an issue than ever before.

Historically players respected a Coach because he had a business card that read ‘Head Coach.’ In today’s world, and I am not suggesting it is something I agree with, kids do not come to the field with the same unwavering respect. Your demeanor, your communication on the sidelines is critical. I would encourage you to be increasingly aware of your Body Language and Tone of Voice on the sideline. Send a message. A message that is confident and under control in all that you do…


One Response to “Article: Lacrosse Coach Game Demeanor”

  1. Steve Weaver Says:

    Well said, I agree that when faced with the prospect of watching myself on the sideline it can become somewhat unnerving but I am typically the quiet guy and my assistants tend to be animated.
    I am a huge fan of the little victories which I get every game and despite the outcome of the game I deliver “the news” along the way but I try to pile on the positives in a 4:1 ratio. This way the kids come away feeling positive and they have been criticized fairly not yelled at. it also gives them something to work on at practice and they actually feel good about it.

    keep up the good work!
    Coach Weaver

Leave a Reply