8/27/06

Good Coach - Bad Coach

Coaching is my life. I have been a coach for 37 years. I decided I wanted to be a coach when I was still in high school. I was fortunate to have a great high school basketball, Mr. Charles Kuehl; he was also a history teacher, which inspired to also be a history teacher. The older I get the more I appreciate the lessons and values he taught. He was stickler for detail and discipline. I know now he taught us life lessons. He kicked me out of practice for seven straight days because I was arguing calls, on the eighth day I finally shut up. Not a word was said. I was just a little slow get the lesson. He knew that taking away the game would be more punishment than running laps. Chalk one up for good coaching. He knew how to build a team. We had a pretty diverse group in terms of talent and background, but he molded us together to believe in a system of play that required discipline and the ability to think under pressure. We had a required study hall every day before practice. That helped the marginal students like me to focus and get a start on homework and to get help from our smarter teammates. He had rules and principles that he did not compromise. When two starters were caught at a party where people were drinking, they were off the team. No questions asked. Of course that was 1963 when you could do that. Mr. Keuhl was a big reason I went into coaching and teaching.

Ironically the other reason I went into coaching was bad coaching. My line coach in college at Fresno State and the head coach were two of the worst coaches I have ever seen. They were the antithesis to everything I thought sport should be. Of course their job was to win and we were never allowed to forget that. I look back on that experience and realize it was all about manipulation, domination and control. If you did something wrong in practice you ran stadium stairs in full uniform with your helmet on in 100 degree heat. Very enlightened! Our education was an afterthought. I was a second string center and one afternoon when practice was well into the third hour, I went to the head coach to ask if I could leave practice to make my evening class. His response was to ask me if I was there to play football or get an education? I answered to get an education, by now I had this figured out. I should have left then and never come back, but I persisted. The line coach was an alcoholic racist. He preached hurting people. It was very negative experience. I vowed after this experience that I would go into to coaching and try to be the best coach I could be. I have been a bad coach at times. But when I think back to make experiences it get me back on track. Everyday I coach I try to get better and make the people I work with better. What more can we ask.

3 Comments:

At 8/27/06, 11:18 AM, Blogger jd said...

vern
reasonable expectations and discipline is punished not rewarded today at many levels... i'm with you, i tried to create a drill to teach after a mistake not run to punish... parental intrusion today is a major problem... bad coaching proceeds from a premise that is uninformed... thanks for helping me continue the fight..
joe difeo
"first to the ball....wins"

 
At 8/27/06, 11:56 AM, Blogger Joe P. said...

"Illegitimi Non Carborundum". It's a good thing jerkoffs like your college line coach don't last, in sports and in life. You also bring up a good point in a round about way- you can't win with gangsters. Jerry Tarkanian got away with it for a while but ultimately failed.

 
At 8/27/06, 9:14 PM, Blogger Bob Helfst said...

Vern,
One of my coaching examples has always been my dad. He coached my brother and me until we were 13 or so. He had played some basketball but definitely wasn't a jock. He taught us solid fundamentals and did something few coaches today are willing to do; play every kid an equal amount of time/innings. I recall kids who would be diagnosed as ADHD today, who pushed my dad to edge of sanity, but he hung in there with them and worked with them and played them just as much as any other kid. I recall kids who weren't very athletically gifted who rotated with the superstars. It was interesting that kids didn't quit my dad's teams and came back year after year. By the way, he won several championships that way because by the end of the year, every kid had improved and those you wouldn't have expected to make the big play did just that.
That philosophy is sorely lack in today's youth sports where high school teams are almost determined when the kids are in 5th and 6th grade. Who knows when a kid is going to blossom and mature. A kid that leaves athletics may never have the chance to develop his/her potential. Worse yet they may never want to be physically active again.
I'm as competitive as anyone, but what do we gain if kids don't come back to play next year because they didn't have any fun or because only the gifted kids got any attention from the coach?
Those of us coaching youth sports need to realize that the impact we have goes far beyond the sport or season we coach.

 

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