Why I stopped yelling and started coaching


In today’s world you can walk the streets of a major city and ask people what their definition of a coach is. Chances are you will get answers ranging from “someone who coaches a team” to “ someone who teaches athletes how to play their sport.” These examples are fine, but I believe we have limited and stereotyped the real meaning of being a coach. In the next few paragraphs I hope to shed some light on what I believe coaching is and why I stopped yelling.


[Picture taken at the 2017 Illinois girls state track and field meet.]

It was 2013 when I started exploring coaching or what I thought was coaching. I can remember watching YouTube videos, going to my little brother’s sporting events, and observing how other coaches lead their teams. I was fortunate enough to see many different styles and approaches to coaching, but there was a problem; none of these styles fit me. I witnessed a lot of yelling, especially after athletes made a mistake during their competitions. I can remember in college when I was an athlete how certain coaches would yell more than others. To someone, on the outside looking in, that may have looked and sounded like coaching. What they don’t know is that many of the coaches I had on the college level never took the time to connect with many of my teammates. I believe the foundation of coaching is having the ability to connect with the athletes. Anyone can yell and sound like a coach, but there’s more to coaching than reading a practice schedule and barking orders.


So what is coaching? My definition of coaching is rather short. In its simplest form, my belief is that a coach is a teacher. Yes, that simple; a teacher. Think about it. What is the goal when a parent signs their child up for youth soccer or t-ball? I can bet the majority of parents would agree that they don’t sign their young athlete up to get yelled at or humiliated.  The goal should always be to learn and grow. Coaches are supposed to teach kids valuable lesson in addition to the sports instruction. I often tell my track team that my goals and objectives are to teach. Can teaching be done through yelling? Yes, but why do we need to yell to make a point or drive home a concept? Coaches that take the “my way or the high way” mentality, are typically one’s that need their voice to be heard.


I can remember it as plain as day the last time I yelled at an athlete in a negative way. It was May of 2015 and we were coming back from a high school boy’s state track competition. As we all know, high school boy’s can sometimes be a squirrely bunch when they are around each other. I had two boys on the bus arguing over a seat and I turned around and yelled something, which later lead me to apologizing to that athlete. That was the last time I yelled at an athlete in a negative way. I knew deep down that that was not coaching or who I was, but simply, yelling without positive intentions.  I didn’t bring any learning examples for the situation over the seat, which is something that is often missed with coaches. We often yell in a negative manor without providing a teaching component so the situation can be handled better the next time.


[Explaining the order of events to one of our first year athletes. This was the first track meet of the year for Dallas International School.]

My coaching philosophy has evolved since 2015 and it has also evolved since 2017. Some may read this and scoff at the fact that I don’t yell at the athletes I work with. I use my coaching to not only motivate athletes, but I also use my voice to teach them valuable lessons about life, address situations that may occur, and most of all; respect them as human beings. Do I get excited and scream out of joy? Absolutely, and that is perfectly fine, but yelling at an athlete for making a mistake is where I draw the line. What I have found is that most athletes that I’ve worked with don’t respond as well when they are yelled at. It usually takes an event and/or incident to change our outlook or approach when it comes to coaching. For me, it was the 2015 incident that has shaped and changed the way I deal with all situations within coaching.


I don’t claim to have all the answers or think my approach is superior, but I do believe more effort needs to be placed on teaching athletes. We must also continue spreading positivity within the coaching community and within the organizations and teams we work with. As a coach, you never want to look back and regret something you said to an athlete. Although I am not proud of the incident in 2015, I don’t regret it. It was a valuable lesson learned and has shaped me into a much better coach. My goal is to help other coaches avoid making some of the mistakes I made early on in my coaching career. I hope this post can help you along you journey to becoming a better coach.


More on Kendrique Coats


Kendrique Coats is the owner of Coats Performance, which provides sprinting and athletic development training in Frisco, Texas. Over the years, Coats has spent most of his coaching time on the high school level coaching boys and girls track and field as well as overseeing strength and conditioning programs, which included stops at Pontiac Township High School in Illinois and Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Now the head track and field coach at Dallas International School in Dallas, Texas, Coats looks to bring many of his training and coaching philosophies to the new program.  For more on Coach Coats and his work, be sure to follow on Twitter @kendriquecoats, Instagram @CoatsPerformance, and his website www.coatsperformance.com.   You can also connect with Coach Coats via email at kcoats@coatsperformance.com


Issues with Youth Athletics

“Jimmy get ready, we have four games to play this afternoon!”

“But dad, I just….”  

“What did I say,  Jimmy?!  The team needs you. I need you. How bad do you think it would look if your own dad is coaching the team and you are home racing bikes with friends?  Come on, don’t let me down!”

Yet again, another forceful parent pushing their kid to do something to fulfill their own ego.  More than ever we are dealing with a growing number of athletes opting out of sports because of the intense pressure put on them by their parents and the fully stacked weekend schedules, as if they are competing for the Olympics.  When do we draw the line and let kids be kids?   The motto of keeping them busy or keeping them tired is a thing of the past.  Moreover, parents running teams as if they are preparing to compete against the  95-96 Chicago Bulls is rubbish.

It has become a fulltime job for kids

We all know the parents that have taken matters into their own hands to ensure that their little baller gets his/her scholarships.  Often times, putting them on multiple travel teams that require expensive fees and nightly practices after their school practices.  Is this really necessary?  What happened to one practice an evening, finishing up homework at a decent time, and a little playtime?  These days, eight year olds have two full-time jobs, sports, and school. Don’t get me wrong I think there are benefits to being part of travel teams:

1) If athletes are actually being coached instead of scrimmaging all practice.

2) If coaches are instilling in them life long lessons instead of making it about JUST winning.

3) If the local team has an incompetent coach that does not possess leadership or role model qualities.

4) If a local team is not available for that athlete to participate on.  I don’t believe there is a need to travel long distances to develop at young ages.

It has become about parents instead of the athlete

Games have turned into parents trying to coach their son/daughter from the sidelines.  It’s great to encourage and cheer on your young athlete, but, when it turns into coaching them from the sideline, it makes it very difficult for most athletes to be fully engaged in the game because they have two different voices they are tying to listen to – coach and parents.  In addition, games have become a bragging session about where a young athlete has traveled to compete or what travel team the parents want the son/daughter to compete on next year.  “Oh did I just miss my son/daughter make their shot?”   “Yes Mildred, you were busy bragging and showing me your eight year old’s highlight tape for college recruiters…”   “Oh, did you ask your son/daughter about what they want to do?”  The power of letting children make their own, healthy and reasonable, choices is real.

Who’s got biggest muscles?

The number of coaches and dads that have stepped up to the plate to manage a team of energized kids has increased.  This is great; however, many coaches are tying to live vicariously through these young, developing athletes by “stacking” teams with all the talent and crushing every other team in the league.  “ Hey Richard, you got a nice team there!”  “ Yeah, its just like I do it in Madden.”  We get it Richard, your ego has gotten so big that you have forgotten the whole point of a youth development league. We also get that you like to win.  In that case, why don’t you join an adult league instead of using kids to pad your ego?   Coaches,  kids need to understand the fundamentals of the game and how important these are as they continue athletics.  Winning may be fun now, but if a group of kids go through a season of their given sport without learning anything, becoming better people, or having a stronger understanding of the game then you have failed them and their parents big time. Congratulations on your all madden team, Richard…

Where’s the fun?

Some have put such an emphasis on winning that many children think they need to walk away with a win, every game and at all costs.  By no means am I saying winning is bad, but, at developmental ages, if we teach children that the only way he or she is making improvement is by winning, then we have once again failed. Remember the “it’s all about having fun” speech before the games that reminded young athletes to, well, have fun?  It has slowly changed into a pregame speech by an overly aggressive coach that tells the kids to kick the other teams butt.  Hmmm, I question if this is the right thing to teach easily influenced individuals.  This approach places a tremendous amount of pressure on the team to win the game for the coach.

Regardless if you are a coach or a parent, I think we can all agree that in many cases, sports have not given young athletes the ability to have fun.  It has become how many points can be scored and how badly a team can be crushed because you know, the coach told the team to do so.   Maybe its time for many of us to take a new approach and empower young athletes and give them an outlet where they feel they can communicate and be a part of a larger support group.  Screaming and yelling doesn’t do it and the video below shows a handful of situations where the coach is out of line.


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Kendrique Coats

“Believe in the process”