The Key to Understanding Your Coach

Understanding Your Coach
Prince William Hockey Club U16 Panthers, via Flickr

Reading between the lines helps with understanding your coach


By Travis Armideo

At one point or another in your child’s athletic career, they are bound to have that one coach that the entire team—not to mention the parents—thinks is crazy.

This coach may have weird quirks or sayings that they use constantly. Their motives may be difficult to understand and your child almost always ends up frustrated trying to please them. You want them to treat your child like anyone else’s on the team, but for some reason they’re always picking on them.

Maybe your child has already had that coach, and if they haven’t yet they most certainly will at some point. Clearer communication is essential, and can only make the team stronger.

Here’s a quick guide to help in understanding your coach and the meaning behind their actions:


What the Coach Does: Coach seems to yell at your child more than the other players.

What the Coach Means: This is a classic coach-athlete dynamic, and one where your child naturally feels like they are being picked on by the coach more than their teammates.


You or your child is not being paranoid; the truth is the coach likely picks on him/her for a reason. Depending on the level of play, the coach has anywhere from 10 to 80 or more players to pay attention to, and obviously they can’t focus on everyone.

What actually ends up happening is that a coach usually focuses most of their attention on the players they view as having potential. So, while you may take it as simple yelling, what the coach is really saying is: “You are able to do better and I believe in you!”

It may seem like unnecessarily tough love, but it should be taken as a vote of confidence. Again, the coach only has so much time to go around and if your kid is getting the bulk of it—even if it feels negative—chances are it’s only to help him or her develop into a better athlete. That’s just one more way of understanding your coach.


What the Coach Does: Coach benches your child for violating a team rule that others have only been hit with a minor violation for.

What the Coach Means: Unfortunately, they have been chosen to be an example. But fear not: similar to being yelled at, this actually may also be a vote of confidence.


First of all, the coach wouldn’t choose your child without knowing that they could handle it. That means they believe they’ll be able to learn from it and become better, where some of their teammates may not be able to handle being benched and disappear for the season. The coach must see some resilience in them!

Your child may also be used as an example because they likely broke a rule that is typically never violated. By making an example of him or her, it sends a stronger message to the rest of the team that what they did isn’t going to be tolerated, even from the most reliable of players.

While it is almost never fun to be the example, the team should be stronger for it going forward.


What the Coach Does: Coach always makes them go first in drills, even though they often make a mistake.

What the Coach Means: Like the other two scenarios, this is actually a sign that the coach believes in them.


Making them go first in drills is the coach’s way of saying they are the most capable of both absorbing the information and executing the task.

While your child never wants to make mistakes, their coach clearly has the confidence in them to perform the drill correctly. And that means they should too.

Whether it’s yelling at your child, benching them, or using them as an example, the coach is clearly trying to communicate something. But how do you read between the lines? Remember, clear communication is the key to understanding your coach. And that’s what makes teams stronger!

Travis Armideo is the Marketing Manager at Gladiator Custom Mouthguards. is reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

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