A great way to have fun and bring a team together is by using humor. However, some coaches may think that they are using humor when they are using sarcasm. Sarcasm can be hurtful to players and destructive to the team, so it is important to be aware of the difference.
Humor is the quality of being amusing or comic. Using humor can keep athletes laughing and help them enjoy a sport that might be difficult and intense at times. Humor gives players a break and makes things lighter. When a coach uses positive humor, it is a great thing.
Sarcasm on the other hand, is the use of irony to mock or convey contemptand is often used to cut or give pain. Sarcasm is hard on players and teams. And unfortunately, many coaches don’t understand the difference.
How many times have you heard a coach make fun of a player? They might say, “Nice pass,” when a player made a terrible pass. The coach thinks they are making light of the situation, but it only brings resentment and pain to that player. If the player acts hurt, a coach may even respond with “I was just kidding or it was a joke.” which doesn’t help. The damage has been done.
A Fine Line
There can be a fine line between humor and sarcasm. If a coach has a close connection to a player and understands the humor of that player, they might joke in a way close to sarcasm. The player may also think it is funny and the comment does the trick of lightening up the mood at practice. But it’s best to proceed with caution and truly understand the difference. Be aware of your intent with a comment, but more important, consider how a young player might take what you are saying. A comment might seem funny to you, but feel mean-hearted to an athlete. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, which isn’t always true.
Every Coach Is Different
Some coaches have a natural sense of humor and know how to keep the team smiling. But if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to joke around and tell a funny story. Just keep it positive.
I’m a pretty serious person, still; from time to time, I joked around with my players. But not about my players. Laughing together, not at a teammate, can unite players and give them a sense of belonging.
And as a coach it doesn’t hurt to encourage one of your players who has in the inclusive sense of humor use it to keep the team laughing, as long as they understand when it’s time to be serious. I was also lucky that one of my assistant coaches had a great sense of humor and could get the girls rolling.
A Balancing Act
Funny stories, jokes, and observations can create a fun environment that is infectious. Just remember to use humor, not sarcasm. It can be a balancing act. Remind yourself to keep your comments positive. A humorous moment can break up a long day of drills and help relieve tension and stress. And as a season progresses and becomes more intense, it is even more valuable to lighten things up.
A coach’s words have a powerful and often long-lasting effect on their players. So why not add some positive humor and bring more joy and connection for your players and team.