How Do We Define “Bad?”


If you’ve been involved in youth sports long enough chances are you’ve come across some fantastic coaches in your time and some not-so-stellar ones. But how do we determine who is a great coach and who is a terrible one? Oftentimes it’s very subjective and two parents on the same team might have completely different views about the same coach. One sports coach posed a great question on LinkedIn,

“How do we (coaches, parents, players and administrators) define “bad” in coaching? Clearly it encompasses numerous, disparate or sometimes conflicting issues depending upon the environment (i.e., individual versus team development and running a financially viable and dynamic organization).”

Here are some of the reasons we might label someone as a “bad” coach:

1. Doesn’t know enough about the game to be an effective coach.

This is a problem many youth sports organizations face fairly often—they desperately need volunteers each season to coach their teams but oftentimes there aren’t enough experienced coaches to go around. A few teams are bound to get the sports mom or dad that was willing to volunteer so the team would have a coach (which they deserve some credit for!), even though they don’t actually know the finer details of that particular sport.How Do We Define “Bad?”

Some of these coaches have fantastic enthusiasm and are more than willing to learn and grow as coaches and want to make sure the kids have a great season. For younger players sometimes the attitude of a coach can outweigh their lack of knowledge and you can still have a phenomenal coach even if they aren’t the most experienced. Although as players get older and more serious most parents would say an unknowing coach classifies as a “bad” coach.

2. Has a terrible attitude.

Hopefully your son or daughter will never have to deal with a coach that clearly doesn’t want to be there. When the coach doesn’t care about the team (and it’s really obvious when they don’t) it’s very hard to inspire the kids to want to be there. Most sports parents (and other coaches) can probably agree that a coach with a terrible attitude could reasonably be called a bad coach. Even if they know more about a particular sport than anyone else in the league, if they are always cranky, rude, abrasive, mean, or generally just a nasty person it’s hard to like or respect them as a coach.

3. Clearly picks favorites.

Many parent-coaches admit they go a little harder on their own children than the other players to avoid any appearance of favoritism, but a bad coach is definitely one who picks favorites…and all the other players and parents can tell. A good coach works to make sure that all the players get equal (or as close to it) time on the playing field, feel like they are part of the team even when they aren’t on the field, and fosters a sense of camaraderie among the players. A bad coach cares about his favorites and that’s about it.

So how do you delineate between a good and a bad coach?