Monday, June 27, 2005

QotW: Worst Coaching Moment

A few weeks ago we talked about coaching highlights. That started me thinking about my most unpleasant coaching experiences. I have a tendency to curse way too much on the Ultimate field. My first year coaching Southern Poly, we were playing at Terminus in the last game Saturday to make the 'upper fields'. I don't remember what happened exactly, but I wasn't pleased with it and I let loose with a flurry of f-bombs. I turn around and see one of my player's parents sitting right behind me. I apologized to the player after the game, and although he said they were used to worse from his highschool baseball coach, I still regret it and wish I'd have apologized to them directly.

Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in a game that you slip and do something you end up regretting? Maybe you've yelled at a player, or encouraged some form of bad spirit by one of your players, or even just not corrected a player for an unspirited act.


Anonymous said...

I coached the GT women's team for two years and am definitely guilty of losing my temper from the intensity of coaching. The first year I was playing and coaching, so that additional stress frequently pushed me over the edge. It's not an excuse and my kids often told me that my yelling wasn't, but I still felt horrible about it.

One year, we had a very special girl on our team. She was very sweet and dedicated; however, she was *extremely* slow at picking stuff up. Even after emphasizing it the entire season, I had to constantly remind her where to position herself on man defense. Someone actually physically moved her to show her where she should be. Anyhoo, it was the last game of some tournament and we were all exhausted since we only had 1 sub. We were playing in a long point, which ended with the other team scoring because this girl was defending on the wrong side...again. I lost it. I went up to her and yelled, "How many times have I told you?! You have to stay on the f***ing open side of your girl! Take one." And I made her cry. The worst part was, at the time I was about to say "There's no crying in Ultimate!" but thankfully something prevented me from doing it.

I still feel awful about and hate to end on this terrible story, so here’s one that’s not as mean. One season, I was working with one of my handlers on throwing less “zingy” dumps. She threw these laser shots to space, which were difficult to catch and often resulted in a turnover with huge yardage loss. She tried really hard not to, but she kept throwing them at me during one tournament. In our last game, when it happened again, I yelled out “NO zingy dumps!!” took off to catch my man going deep. Nothing out of the ordinary…or so I thought. According to reliable sources on the sideline, what really happened was I looked at her, yelled out “NO zingy dingys!” while jumping up and down in anger before taking off. Apparently, I looked like an angry monkey. I didn’t really have to worry about making another girl cry after that incident.


Anonymous said...

Telling one of my players, loud enough for everyone withing in 30 yards of us that "If that hack goes chest to chest with you one more time on the mark, fuck him. Don't call the foul for him to contest is, bury your shoulder in his jaw on the pivot!" This was after the unnamed opposing player had (for 3 or 4 straight points) come down and laid the most in-your-face, leg-humping hack-mark on one our handlers leading to ~7-8 calls, our team calmly telling him he was persistently cheating, one, me calling him a "fucking cheater" and him forcing 2 mark-related turnovers. The next point I was still seething, and my player did exactly what I told him to do. This knocked the opposing player over very emphatically and he took a couple seconds to get up while his teammates ran over to defend him. It nearly started a fight.

Eventually, calmer heads prevailed enough to stem the brawl, but I've never felt so totally ashamed of the way that I acted on the field, or even off, actually.

That was horrible, just horrible.

My only positive light on this was that after the game, we had enough time to get both teams together and talk over everything. good discussion was had.

llimllib said...

It's not a coaching moment, or even that bad, but my team was playing hot and sweaty at mixed easterns. I was D'ing one of their really fast guys, and I thought I had cut off his angle perfectly, he came back to try and get the disc, and he ran through me, fell down, and called a foul.

I jumped up, screamed "Bullshit", then looked down at him wide-eyed looking up at me like "this dude is a crazy fucker". I don't know what it was about the situation, probably just the look on his face, that made me feel really terrible about yelling. I helped him up and calmly contested the foul.

Tarr said...

Most of the things I really regret as a coach are things that I didn't do -- didn't teach a certain player a certain thing, didn't say the right thing to keep a player around, et cetera. Those don't really qualify as "worst coaching moments".

The worst moment I can recall with one of my players was a shouting match I had with one of the men's team captains this spring during a scrimmage. Of all things, the argument was about how to throw an open-side dump. It was a pretty ugly argument to happen in front of everyone - one of the other captains had to step in and take me off the field - although the two of us are friends and it was fine afterward. I was right (of course) but it was also my fault for not explaining and emphasizing the point earlier. We ended up drilling it (throwing the dump out to space when the cutter is face-guarded) a fair bit in the next couple weeks, and it did help a lot.

I suppose if you asked players on other teams, I would have lots of "worst coaching moments". I'm one of Those People who can't help but get involved in arguments on the field. Maybe it makes me a bad person, I dunno. The fact that I am, as far as anyone can tell, always right in these discussions tends to encourage me. But it does annoy other players when I start citing rules, correct or not. My general philosophy on this is, as long as people don't hate my PLAYERS, then I am doing an OK job. If my involvement sours the experience as a whole, then I have stepped over the line.

In the past season, I can only think of two incidents where my interaction with another team really caused a problem. One was against a club team in Alabama, who were breaking rules all over the place and were pretty indignant about it (AJ knows who I'm talking about). In this case, I think it was more about them than about me.

The other case was Purdue men's last game of the season, against Indiana. That rivalry has gotten pretty intense in recent years, and by the time I got to the fields (I had been coaching the women), it was late in a close and highly contentious affair. When one of their players tried to misapply the delay of game rules to get a few quick stall counts, I got involved in the ensuing argument, and stepped a yard out on the field in the process. When one of their players told me to get off the field, I gave him the finger from about 10 feet away, and very nearly got slugged.

So yeah, not my proudest moment. In the end, IU took back the call, cooler heads prevailed, and the teams were able to put the game behind us and get along the next day.

parinella said...

Well, this has absolutely nothing to do with coaching, but it perhaps should have been embarrassing.

At the Boston Invite this weekend, I was hanging on the opposite sideline adjacent to the Bulge/Subzero game. A Bulge guy was tripped as he went to the disc, but caught it anyway. He stopped and started swearing at the defender for the reckless play. After a few seconds, one of the SZ guy's teammates tells him, "He didn't say foul, start stalling him." I thought this was rude, so I yelled "Shut up!" He turned his head to find out which dickhead opponent yelled that at him, and was surprised to find out that it was someone from another game. I quickly averted his eyes and walked away.

Anonymous said...

This isnt coaching either, but I think this really says something about uncoached college teams not really getting spirit into the game. A guy on my team is a college player, not too great or athletic, but still very critical of other people. Someone on D called "violation" and the guy with the disc threw to a cutter who was confused and stopped running, and the disc hit the ground. he looks around bewildered and one of the guys on his team says rather calmly "He doesnt know what that means" The player who called "Violation" thought this guy was saying he didnt know what he was talking about, and proceeded to curse him out on the field, making personal attacks and telling him to shut the F up. I honestly have never been so ashamed in my life to have someone like that on my team. And I really think that coaches help keep their players under control, and give them some discpiline and respect for the other player. Oh, yeah, does anyone live in the Hartford area and is willing to Coach college ultimate? Cause that would be sweet.