The Transparent Coach

Updated Monday January 9, 2017 by Richard Schwartz.

The Transparent Coach

“Knock him down Johnnie.”  “Go after him Johnnie.”  “Get aggressive Johnnie.”

Ah…the things parents yell from the opposite side of the field.  Parents make the best fans of all.  They (as opposed to little brother, sister, friend, or relative) are attentive, interested, and genuinely happy to watch their player exhaust himself running up and down the field.  But, like most measurable qualities in life, all parent fans, like the colors of the rainbow, fall somewhere in a spectrum; not light to dark mind you, but rather, appropriate to inappropriate.

This summer, at a select lacrosse tournament in Denver, I heard a parent yell at an opposing player “You’re a dumb *&^@%^&#%.”  Later in that same game, I heard the same parent tell a ref, “You’re dumber than a door knob.”  Yes, I have heard it all.  Coaches have to balance parental politics and parental personal values with coaching technique and methods. Personally, I feel the need to be totally transparent so that no parent ever has to guess or wonder what is going on with their player.  Transparency also applies to my relationship with parents, including whether a parent’s behavior is disruptive. 

Interesting word … “transparent.”  Trans means “across”, “through” or “on the other side of.”  The term “Parent” means, well…I think that’s obvious.  In coach’s jargon, “Transparent” is a noun, not an adjective.  It refers to parents who, by rule of the game, are forced to sit on the side of the field “across” from the players’ bench.  Who made that silly rule?  Yep, you guessed it…coaches.  But I bet you can’t guess why.  Nope, it’s not because we don’t want to hear your cheering.  Nope, it’s not because we need the extra room.  Nope, it’s not because we don’t need you doting over your son.  Give up yet?  It’s because we want your player to be the best lacrosse player he can be. Yep…it’s that simple.  Are you scratching your head yet?

Coaches spend hours and hours working very closely with your player, and your player spends hours and hours working with his teammates.  They listen, they talk, they ask questions, and they get taught what they need to be taught.  “Johnnie” may have practiced for hours and hours to do this or do that under certain circumstances.  Suddenly, come game time, Johnnie hears a familiar, commanding voice across the field instructing Johnnie to “go after him,” or my personal favorite, “get aggressive.”  For example, at a recent high school game, I heard a Transparent instruct his son to get more aggressive.  But to me, the player was performing exactly as he was instructed, and being more aggressive at that moment would only have reduced the player’s effectiveness on the field and for his team. 

Lacrosse is not about endless poke checks, desperate pushing, or unnecessary body checks.  It’s a game of speed and finesse, of quickness over brawn.  In order for your player to be the best he can be, he has to play like he has been coached.  If a player hears a Transparent yelling at him to do something he has not been coached to do, it may just result in the player doing something bad for the team simply because he wants to please his Transparent.  This is particularly true at the bantam and youth ages.  High Schoolers barely listen to their coach let alone a Transparent.  Nevertheless, all my players are specifically told to ignore Transparent coaching. 

I realize this message may be controversial.  I am just being transparent (adjective).  It all comes down to encouragement vs. coaching.  Transparents should encourage all they can…cheer…jeer…sing … “way to go”… “great job”… “let’s go boys.”  The list is endless.  Just try to avoid telling your player where to be or how to act on the field.  The coaches have things well under control in that department.  If Johnnie needs to be more aggressive, then the coach can make that call. 



Richard Schwartz


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