Should Players Ever Criticise the Coach? Blog By Daniel Scarpino

Coaches are constantly assessing and evaluating players. It’s a fundamental and necessary action that coaches must do on an almost everyday basis. With assessment and evaluation of players, there comes a certain level of critique on behalf of the coach. This is inevitable, and as we have discussed previously at Coaching Conversations, those critiques don’t always go over so well. Regardless, it is absolutely necessary for coaches to have a variety of assessment tools and a variety of evaluations in order to benefit the players and improve the team. The question that never seems to be addressed is, “Should players ever critique the coach?”. Let’s find out.

The first thing that we need to put on the table is an unquestionable reality; which, again, nobody wants to talk about – Most coaches don’t want to receive feedback or critiques. Why? – Well, it all points to one simple notion – Many coaches are fearful of what their players might say/think about them. It’s a true fact, and I know that rubs some people the wrong way. But here’s the thing – Many players are fearful of what their coach might say/think about them. It’s a two-way street, I can tell you. So, how can we logically have one form of assessment (coach-player) and not have another (player-coach)? A difficult question.

If coaches are going to critique their players with the use of assessment and evaluation, then you best believe that players should be able to critique their coaches with the use of assessment and evaluation. Coaches who allow their players to assess and evaluate them are the coaches who are confident, want to improve, and are cooperative in their coaching style. Coaches who do not allow their players to assess and evaluate them are coaches who are living in the dark – If this is you, then you need to read the rest of this article and start making changes today.

I have personally always stood by this adage:

There is no perfect way to coach. It boils down to guiding your team within the identity that has been created, having a unified belief, and representing your club to the best of your ability. As a coach, it’s important to create the proper environment. If you give your players the opportunity to succeed, then you are moving in the right direction.

If you have done that as a coach, then you have absolutely nothing to fear.

But, we must seriously look at ourselves, as coaches. How fair is it that you are constantly assessing, evaluating, and ultimately critiquing your players, and then they have no say whatsoever about how you are performing as a coach? This is an old style of coaching and not to mention hypocritical – Calling it how it is, folks. I would just like to remind you that without players, you don’t have a team – fact. So, why wouldn’t you get the people that you coach & mentor to get involved in the process of assessment & evaluation?

If you want to improve as a coach, you will absolutely have your players critique you. This will only benefit you as a coach. You will find out what is working, what is not, what could be improved, what could be changed, how things might be altered, what the players want/need, and how you can move the club forward. If you aren’t being given any feedback, then how can you possibly learn any of this?

We can rationally conclude that players should most definitely be critiquing their coaches. It is reciprocal, equitable, fair, and justifiable. If you haven’t been critiqued by your players, then you aren’t growing as a coach or a mentor. A lack of assessment & evaluation is a sure-fire way for a coach to fall behind. You aren’t perfect, and neither am I; thus, we need feedback in order to get better at our craft. Have a look below for the ideology behind this argument.

Who -> The players critiquing the coach

What -> End of season surveys, verbal check-ins, coaches & players meetings, written responses, exit cards after practice, comment cards, and one-on-one meetings

When -> End of season is an absolute must. Periodically will work too. Every now and then, have your players fill out a mini-card about how you are performing as coach. Ask your players during or after practice and at team events of how they think things are going

Where -> At the practice facility or at team events

Why -> Because you aren’t perfect

How -> Verbal & written feedback

Let’s make sports reciprocal and start re-adapting what we had during the 90’s and 2000’s – Cooperation via our coaching styles. It’s imperative for growth in coaching and for working towards building our rapport with the people that we coach/mentor.