Lazy Volunteer Coaches?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

Over the years we’ve had the fortune to have thousands and thousands of youth sports organizations provide our unique CoachDeck to their coaches. Of course, not everyone we approach becomes a client, and we understand when the budget it tight and there’s no room for anything but the barest necessities. But the we felt compelled to address the comments we received from one organization President recently, because we’re sure he’s not alone in his thinking.

In telling us he was going to pass on ordering decks for his soccer club this individual wrote, “The concept appears to reward the lazy coach where you state in your literature that ‘you can literally show up at practice with no time to plan’. This goes against everything we encourage in our coaches where we are looking for a practice plan that spans the whole season to measure individual player and team development.”

See, we at CoachDeck do not think volunteer coaches are lazy. Busy, maybe, but not lazy. They are doing us a favor by coaching for free. The individual who wrote this email is probably paid a salary by the club. Guess where a good portion of the club’s revenue comes from? Recreational player registrations. If no one volunteered to coach, this revenue would be eliminated and so would some or all of his salary. Yet, those good folks who are doing this job for free are lazy?

We, as league administrators, need to realize that not everyone can devote the amount of time we’d like. Not all are as “into it” as we are. I think of a person who owns a sandwich shop. When he makes a sandwich for a customer he tries to create a work of art. All the ingredients applied precisely, the plating perfect. He wants it to be the best sandwich the customer has ever had.

Then he hires employees to help him make sandwiches. He observes them rushing through the process, skipping steps, not being as careful as he’d like. He can’t understand how they would not take the same pride in each meal as he does. What he doesn’t get is that it is not their business. They are just doing this job temporarily. This shop may be his life, but it is not theirs. It doesn’t mean they don’t care at all – they just don’t care as much.

So we designed our product to bridge the gap between the professional and the volunteer. CoachDeck was created to give a lifeline to the coach who is overwhelmed but trying his best. We want to provide a shot in the arm of confidence to those who might only be coaching because no one else was willing to do it. We’re proud to give them a tool that’s easy to use, not a chore, so that they can have fun with kids instead of being robotic drill instructors. It’s rec sports. Fun comes first. Individual and team development? Somewhere further down the list. We know that not all volunteer coaches will be as diligent or skilled as we are. But we’ll thank them for pitching in, and never call them lazy.

Ironically, on this particular club’s website we found this: The recreational program is geared for players who love the game of soccer and want to keep playing and improving their skills, while not committing the additional time and effort necessary for a travel team.  Games are held every Saturday and the individual coaches decide on the number of practices.  If your child enjoys playing soccer and does not want to commit to the more demanding requirements of a travel team, then come join our recreational soccer program.

We couldn’t have said it much better ourselves.

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

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2 Responses

  1. Brian,

    I mostly agree with your article, however there is a certain type of lazy volunteer coach. In my dealings in running a baseball league for 6 years, there is the cases of the parent volunteer coach who only wants to coach his own kid. There are also the “look at me types” who suddenly become coaches when a team has a bit of success. These guys are nowhere to be found when you are struggling to keep T-ball kids engaged but when they get to the age when the scoreboard is turned on and winning some ballgames, you suddenly find some assistants. There is also the coach who has to offer advice before an at bat to the best player on the team. He likes to approach the kid at the on deck circle and be very demonstrative and then when the kid gets a hit (which is always anyway) says “see what I mean!!??”

    I have more examples in just my dealings in these years but there are a faction of lazy volunteer coaches who are in it more for the “glory” than pure intentions. Don’t get me started on the ones who ignore basic field duties!!

    • Hi Bob,

      Thanks for your note. I have seen the same thing and while those coaches aren’t my favorites, if they are showing up for every practice and every game and helping the league run, I still don’t know if I’d call them lazy. Selfish, maybe. But you do make a good point. Not everyone, just because they volunteer to coach, is a saint.

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