How to Deal With an Angry Coach

January 9, 2013 | Chris Stankovich

Bob Knight

The longer you play sports, the more likely you will play for a coach who likes to yell and scream—the type of coach who leaves his players with the impression that there is nothing they can do to please him. This kind of coach uses intimidation and humiliation tactics, which often leave players frustrated about how they are being coached.

If you have a coach like this, consider the following tips to help you minimize the coach's negative tactics while maximizing your contributions to the team's success.

Focus on what you control.

While it might not be fun to play for an angry coach, there's probably not a lot you can do to change his or her personality and coaching style. Instead, focus on all the things you do control, like your attitude, effort, discipline, and being a great team player—and let go of the things you don't control. (Learn how to train your sports focus.)

Try to take away the message the coach is sending.

If the coach yells at you for not hustling, focus on the message and not how it was delivered. Too many times, we allow our feelings to get hurt and miss out on the important "teachable moment" as a result.

Follow the style of play the coach wants.

It isn't too difficult to learn what your coach's philosophy is all about, since most coaches do a pretty good job of emphasizing the things they value. For some coaches, it's hustle; for others it's team play or discipline. If you don't want to get yelled at, make it a point to do the things the coach values the most.

Ask questions if you're unsure what you're doing wrong.

Sometimes athletes aren't sure what they are doing wrong, and as a result the coach continues to yell and scream. If you are not sure what you are doing that is prompting the coach to yell at you, try to find a time before or after practice to ask the coach what you can be doing better to help the team. Be sincere in your approach, listen closely and be sure to implement the coach's advice.

Don't take it personally.

Sure, it's never fun to get yelled at in front of the team, but keep in mind that rarely are these attacks personal. Often, coaches get caught up in the heat of the moment and allow their emotions to take over—sometimes harshly—but it's important to pay attention to the message the coach is sending rather than assuming that the coach doesn't like you.

Playing for an angry coach can be challenging, but it can also be a great test of mental toughness and how well you perform under the pressure of someone who pushes you to the limit. Remember, you will also have tough teachers and autocratic employers in your life. So be sure to learn how to deal with difficult coaches, because it's a great way to prepare not only for succes in sports but for success in life!

Learn more about the player/coach relationship.


Chris Stankovich
- Chris Stankovich, Ph.D., is a licensed professional clinical counselor and founder of Advanced Human Performance Systems, a counseling and performance center based in Columbus, Ohio....
Chris Stankovich
- Chris Stankovich, Ph.D., is a licensed professional clinical counselor and founder of Advanced Human Performance Systems, a counseling and performance center based in Columbus, Ohio....
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