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Moving from the Coaches Box to the Stands

Before I start on this topic, let me first say that I am blessed that my son’s current high school team and his summer travel team both have an excellent group of parents associated with them that encourage their players, supports their teams and respects their coaches and the officials.

BleachersAfter coaching for many years I finally now have the opportunity to watch my son play from the stands.

Being on the bench side coaching you are mostly insulated from the parents on the opposite side of the field. You can actually watch how the game is unfolding with minimal distractions.

Once I transitioned to the stands I found myself sidetracked by listening to some parents comments, complaints and coaching.

When I started to hear comments like “Johnny should be running on the first line” or “they should feed the ball to Johnny more, he can run through anybody” I had to move out of the stands and down to the sidelines along the parents side. It wasn’t that I was being unsociable it was because I was there to watch a lacrosse game not to listen to them. There might be a reason Johnny is running on the second line or doesn’t touch the ball more often. The coach generally was selected for a reason and usually has 20 or more players on their squad. Every player has a specific role on the team. Almost every coach that I have had the pleasure or working with had a plan for their whole teams success and generally tried to put every player into situations that they could be successful in.

I was also taken aback by the comments directed at the referees. As a coach if I had an issue with a call that a ref made I would talk to him away from the team. I did not want the players to feel that they had a right to dispute a judgement call the referee made just because I was yelling at him. I didn’t yell at the ref and I would simply ask for a clarification on the ruling. If I disagreed with the call I let the him know and we moved on. When I hear parents yelling across the field at a referee about blowing a call, I cringe and think what is the message they are sending to their children. Almost every referee I have ever had call a game for me did a fair and unbiased job and each and everyone of them deserve respect for the job they are doing on the field.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a parent coaches from the stands. I recently attended a winter indoor lacrosse game in which my son was participating. Being that he was playing attack I wandered down to the offensive end so I could get a better view of him playing.
One of the opposing defensemen’s fathers also happened to be at that end to watch his son. The father was constantly telling his son what to do, sometimes in contradiction to what the coach was directing the players to do. Several times I heard him yelling at his son to “take the body” and “lay him out”. Every time the player tried to do what his father yelled at him, the offensive player simply dodged and ran by him. Not only did the player get discouraged but both the coach and the parent became frustrated with the players effort. When a player hears direction being yelled out to him by a parent he is distracted from what the coach is trying to get him accomplish. Coaches should be the only ones giving instructions to players on the field.

Honor the Game, Honor your Opponent, Honor your Team,Honor your Coach and Honor the Officials is just as important for the parents to remember as it is for the players.

By: Tom Maginley

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