5 Verbal Mistakes Coaches Must Avoid

(AP Photo/Dave Weaver)

Coach Houser: We've only been with our new club team for a few weeks, and already the coach has made more inappropriate comments than any coach my daughters have ever played for. After matches, she goes out with some parents and talks openly about the players' athleticism, their boyfriends, their families. She says something ridiculous at nearly every practice, in nearly every email, etc. What do we do? The girls are shocked. The parents are enraged. And we still have 4 or 5 more months.

There are some rules about what comes out of a coach's mouth. Here they are in no particular order.

Rule No.1: Say Nothing That You'll Regret

If my team or a player needs a compliment, my coaches or I will give it. Or they need criticism, we will do that also. But everything that's said to the team is thought out carefully. If I have an assistant or a player who just spouts off and hurts people's feeling, I will talk to them. It will stop.

I've told an assistant coach five dozen times, "Don't say anything that you'll regret." I've been on the way home on the bus after a surprising loss or in the car after a disappointing tournament and I've asked my assistant(s), "Did we say or do anything that we regret?"

This is especially true after a stunning loss or underachievement. Sure you can say you were disappointed with the loss: the passing, the defense, the spirit, the effort. But you just can't be foolish enough to say anything that will jeopardize the next match or even the next season.

Rule No.2: Don't Say Anything That'll Embarrass Your Program Or Motivate Your Opponents

Back in 1993 we were tied with a team going into the final night of the regular season. We won our match and were expecting to have to travel the next night for a playoff match. Then we heard that the other team lost!

The next morning, the coach of the 2nd place team was quoted in her local newspaper, "That's a cheap way for Bassett to win a championship." WHAT? Are you kidding me? We met them in the semis of the conference tournament and ended their season. Yes, they were good and could have beaten us on some nights. But not after that statement. Their coach helped us motivate ourselves. Big mistake.

When you open your mouth in anger or disgust, you can do a ton of damage. Don't say things that will come back to bite you.

"But Coach Houser, I don't have that kind of self-control." Then find it. Nurture it. Practice it. Practice what you're going to say when you accept that new coach job, when you lose the match that decides the conference championship, when you lose the match that ends your season, etc.

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