Coaching Tip #12

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Tagged – Tip of the Week, Coaching PracticePractice Management

For some reason in the sporting environment it is considered appropriate, acceptable, and in some cases desirable, for the coach to shout at their players.  In the sporting environment, there can be some moments in which raising one’s voice is actually the best response.  For example, if the coach feels that the emotional state of the team needs to be heightened, shouting can sometimes have that effect.  In addition, there are other moments in an emotional and stressful environment when emotions boil over and the coach expresses their anger verbally.

Whatever the underlying reason, the coach must ensure that the anger is expressed in the right direction.  Too often coaches will have a ‘whipping boy’, a player who is always shouted at regardless of the situation.  Mostly this is a young player, and, not coincidentally, the player least able to defend themselves.  Coaches will shout at the ‘whipping boy’ when they are actually angry at the best player but are too respectful (or scared) to shout at them.

There are many reasons why it is okay not to shout at your best player, even if they ‘deserve’ it.  But is never okay to use another player as a surrogate for the sole purpose of making you feel better.

The collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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  1. Another excellent article! This is actually a common defense mechanism, in psychology it” s called displacement. I think it is interesting to try to identify teams’s whipping boys and see their progression over time. Also Bruninho and his father are interesting examples, given their father-son dynamic. I also find that the “whipping boy” is often also the team clown/or libero/setter and almost never the opposite or middle blocker.


    1. Sometimes coaches organise with the player in advance who will be the whipping boy. Sometimes coaches will choose a player they expect is liked by the team and whom the others will rally around. But shouting at someone ‘weak’ because you don’t want to shout at someone ‘strong’ is not just bad coaching but bullying.


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