Is Your High School Coach Simply Cashing A Paycheck?

Club Sports is an easy scapegoat for the low participation in high school sports. High school coaches common response is the athletes are choosing club sports over their high school.

Is this accurate or an easy excuse of a more severe issue? Is the quality of high school coaches declining?  Are high school coaches simply cashing a paycheck? Are high school athletes leaving because of the poor coaching?

Recently I watched a varsity soccer practice at a local high school. The practice started with the head coach (not a teacher, a paid coach) rolling the ball out and instructing the boys to scrimmage.  For 90 minutes the coach played on his phone and talked with the other coach.  The boys played 7 v 7 at half speed for the entire practice. It reminded me of eating a bag of Cheetos, tastes good at the beginning, but when you are done you realize there was no value.

There were no drills, no instruction, and no semblance of a planned practice.   What was the value of the practice? What value did the coach add to the development of the player and the team? Parents with boys on the team confirmed this was the way the coach, who also coaches the varsity girls’ team, runs practice.

This had to be an anomaly, one bad coach in a sea of qualified and dedicated high school coaches.  Upon further research, this approach appears to be becoming the norm in high school sports.

Are high school coaches simply cashing a paycheck? Is there any accountability from the high school athletic director?

We would like to you to answer these questions.

Here is a short yes or no quiz that will help you identify if your coach is “simply cashing a paycheck” if the answer is yes, we have a few options for you.

  1. Does your coach run a structured practice? Is the entire practice planned with drills, game situations, and fitness? Yes / No  Or, does the coach roll a ball out and the team scrimmages?
  2. Are the drills structured for the entire team’s involvement? Or, one person does the drill and 15 wait their turn? Yes / No
  3. Is your coach engaged and teaching during practice or is he/she on their phone or talking with coaches or parents? Yes / No
  4. Does your coach give you personal and team goals to achieve during the season? Yes / No
  5. Does your coach outline and/or run an off-season training plan and goals for the team? Yes / No
  6. Is the coach involved with the development of the Junior Varsity & Level 3 when their schedule permits? Yes / No
  7. Does your coach spend time on the non-physical parts of the game? Mental toughness, sportsmanship, teamwork, sports IQ? Yes / No
  8. Is the program progressing each year? Are the players improving? Is the team improving? Yes / No

If you answered yes to 7 or more questions: Congratulations, you are in a good program with a good coach.

If you answered yes to 4 or more questions: Your program and coach need improvement.

If you answered yes to 3 or LESS questions: Your coach is simply cashing a paycheck. Don’t expect personal and team development from your high school coach. Here are a few options

Action 1: Look for other ways to improve your game. Club Sports, Private Training, Camps, Clinics

Action 2: Work on your own – develop your game.

Action 3: Be vocal – Let the athletic director know this is happening. You experience high school sports once and it is most likely the last time you will play organized sports. The experience should amazing and memorable.

First of all, you’ve got to have a vision of ‘What kind of program do I want to have?’ Then you’ve got to have a plan to implement it. Then you’ve got to set the example that you want, develop the principles and values that are important, and get people to buy into it. – Nick Saban

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Joshua is married with three active children. He has experienced the good, the bad, and the politics of youth sports as a coach (12 years youth basketball coach) and a parent. All three kids have played soccer (Competitive, Development Academy, ECNL, High School) and basketball (Competitive & High School). Joshua is a co-founder at StriveFar, a marketplace connecting athletes with coaches for individual and small group training. Joshua has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver since 2008. Joshua holds an undergraduate degree in Communication from the University of Colorado and an MBA in IT from the University of Denver.

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