When Is It Time For A Coach To Step Away…

For years I’ve heard and been a part of the debate about Coaches that stay too long with the same group of kids. I actually had this discussion again a few days ago with one of our more frequent commenter’s, and the debate continues. I’m not sure if there is a right or wrong answer, just a lot of opinions.

In my case, I will be coaching a core group of kids this summer that will have had to listen to me for the 4th summer in a row. These are kids that I’ve seen grow from 8 year old Tykes to now 12 year old Peewees. While our time together (I think) has been quite exceptional both on and off floor, there is a very sad realization, at least for me, that this “must” soon come to an end. Or does it?

How long is too long for a Coach to mentor the same group of kids? Should there be rules in place to only allow a coach X number of years and then he / she must move on? Is there a right answer? Well I’m going to sit on the fence on this and see what everyone else has to say. Below I’ll give reasons supporting both sides and encourage your thoughts or input.

Option 1 – A Coach should step down after 3-4 years to allow the kids to learn new systems, hear a new voice, and get a new routine. The same old drills from the same coach gets very boring and kids need to be challenged to new limits. A new coach can bring freshness to the team, new ideas, etc. The old saying is very true; a change is as good as a break. It also allows some kids that do not get the opportunity year after year (those that get released), to show what they can do to someone new. That might be an opportunity that they would not ever get otherwise.

Option 2 – So long as a Coach can take kids to new levels of skill, game play and development they should not have to step down. Year after year some kids come and go, so there are never the same kids every year anyway. As long as the coach has a good relationship with the kids, and can adapt their teaching style to the change in age, he / she should not be denied the ability to continue to progress the kids.  Continuity is a good thing.  Also, what if there just is not anyone else qualified to take the team.  Will the kids digress?

So there you have it.  What are your thoughts and comments?  Should coaches be allowed to continue as long as they want or should there be a cutoff in number of years?

For me as I stated above, I know it has to come to and end, and this is very likely my last season with “my guys”.  It is not fun to think about it, but I believe it is just a reality that it has to be done.

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14 Comments

  1. Well is the coach the type that has coached for ten yrs and each yr is different or a coach that has coached 1 yr 10 times. Here is my meaning , a good coach is always learning and never coaches the same yr twice, a bad coach never learns and coaches the same year year after year. For a good coach he is always changing what he is doing so the kids are always learning something new. I have talk to many coaches and all the bad coaches are the ones who say they coached for 20 yrs but have only coached one yr 20 times. So if you are always changing and developing your game then I say keep coaching but if you are just doing the same thing every year then step down.

  2. Minor sports today seems to be in need of coaches at various levels (at least in some geographical areas) and for various sports. To deny those people who are willing to spend their time to teach kids not only the skills of the game but also teach them valuable life skills the chance to continue to coach just because they have been with a group of kids for 5 years would not be wise. Many young children do not get the chance to compete in certain sports not because of lack of want but because of a lack of volunteers and organized teams. From the point of view of player development: young people can get very accustomed to the way a coach coaches and can become stagnant in their efforts.

    Having said that, I think the decision for a coach to ‘retire’ should be left for that person. If a coach continually tries to add new things to practice and can keep the players’ motivated to do their best and have fun then that person should not be forced out. As well, a person should be allowed to continue to coach if the person still enjoys coaching and there is no alternative. There is nothing worse than children not being given a chance to participate in an organized sport because no one is willing to coach them.

  3. Well I read the post, and decided to comment right away and what do you know -“Anonymous” already said what I was wanted to say and Shuster makes some fine points too.

    I think the decision to coach or not is also made at a minor committee level or equivalent and at the manager level in junior and above. So the decision to coach does not rest only with the coach. Others are, and should, be involved in that decision. I suppose an honest coach would seek that kind of feedback – from collegues, parents & players.

    However, Bishop coached kids through several levels of minor, junior & senior and he ended up as “Mr. Lacrosse.” I guess it all depends on what motivates you to coach.

  4. Like any good relationship, one between a coach and player is one that always needs work. If you find that you have hit a plateau and your player doesn’t seem to get anything out of your relationship, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere for inspiration but it doesn’t mean you have to step down. A solid player is one that is at ease in his or her environment, and knowing your coaching tactics will help them along enormously. With the player’s best interest at heart, you will always find a way to bring the best out of them.

  5. I think a coach should keep coaching as long as he enjoy’s the game and develops the player’s skills. A lot of times a coach who’s had the same boys year after year can read the kids better and knows where each kid’s weekness and strenghts are. It’s an advantage for the the coach to know theses things because he can give the player the help he needs to learn to play the game with sound fundamentals and show them they have the ability to execute their individual skill. A good coach teaches players to develop the necessary skills to take their game to then next level.

    I agree with option #2. As long as you have a good relationship with the kids and you keep developing their skills; the coach should continue to move up with kids.

  6. Well I think that these are all very good points. You always hear people and coaches say that some parents think that their child is better than he really is, and they are blinded by the fact that it is their little Billy.
    I think that this to can happen to coaches and they to sometimes think they are better than they actually are. So you say if a coach is developing the players skills and has a good relationship with the kids he should stay!
    Who decides that the coach? He may truly believe he is the best but in all reality isn’t and keeps coaching. Some parents may think this as well but they don’t know any better as they have never had anyone else.
    Change is good whether it is for the good or bad!!

    I THINK I am a great husband and father but I am sure my wife thinks otherwise!!

    Moses

  7. Actually Moses ( I cannot believe I’m talking to Moses) raises a great point which I never really thougt about (Coach’s thinking they are better than they really are).

    But I guess my question is related to your comment about “change is good whether it is for the good or bad”. Do you really think that a change for the bad of the team (i.e. the same team flops under a new Coach) is good? Is it simply the fact that a change was made that is good regardless of the effects of such a change?

  8. What I am trying to say I guess is, everyone has had a good boss and bad one and you learn from both. Everyone has something to teach and what I think is bad maybe something that someone else thinks is good.
    Who is the one that judges, as we ALL know that everyone will find fault with whoever it is!!

    And Yes Gary you are lucky that you get to learn from Moses!!!

  9. What I was saying if the guy has coached the same kids for 3 or 4 yrs and has not added anything new he should step down from that team. I did not mean do not coach but just give the kids you have coached a chance to learn something new from someone else. The best coaches are always learning new things so if you want to be one of those go to coaching clinics ask other coaches. I have coached for yrs and no not the same yrs several times. I have been very fortunate to have lots of great coaches to learn from and I took advantage of that. Some guys are great at teaching younger kids and not great with older ones so figure out where you are and where you want to go with your coaching. One more thing the great coaches always have great people helping and know when to step back.

  10. Very well said Anonymous!!

  11. Is it fair for a child to always have his dad as the coach? A child may never say dad I don’t want you to coach but deep down would like to listen to someone else for once in his life..

    Listening to someone with a different opinion may be nice for a change..

  12. Another good point Moses (two in a day, hmmmm). I think the biggest challenge there is the question of how the relationship is between parent / child.

    I’ve coached my son pretty much every season he has played. On the floor he is just another player, and I’m the coach. If that was not possible and clear early on, it would never work.

    If that can be established I do not believe it is any different than a Coach coaching any other kid too much / too long….not necessarily the right thing, but no worse.

  13. Well it looks like we agree, it has been too long!!! Marksy it took awhile but we finally agree..

  14. Setting arbitrary limits to a coaches tenure is excessively controlling, but any good executive should reserve the right to make the determination when a coach is done being productive with a team.

    I live in a town that doesn’t limit lax, but does limit hockey coaches to 2 years. Oft times you find the exec. looking desperately for a coach when a perfectly good one is being pushed out due to the imposed 2 year limit.

    I have also witnessed a local coach take the same group from tyke to a Peewee 1 Gold and clearly the coach remained engaged and relevant through those years.

    I guess my input is don’t have fixed limits.


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