How to Be a Horrible Coach

Updated on March 28, 2020
Mandy M S profile image

As a former athlete, coach, and a parent, I have come across every kind of coach. I've seen great ones... and some really horrible ones!

The truth is there are some truly amazing coaches out there. As a former athlete, coach, and a parent, I have come across every kind of coach. I've come across the coach that destroys you and makes you want to never set foot at a sporting event again, and I've seen great coaches!

The best coaches are the coaches who inspire their athletes to be the best person they can be, on and off the athletic stage.

The thing is that determining whether a coach is horrible or wonderful will depend on your experience. All coaches are going to make mistakes, and even great coaches might, on occasion, be guilty of some of the things in this article. Coaches are human, and humans screw up. But the best coaches will do their best to do the things on this list as little as possible.

Horrible coaches rarely recognize their own shortcomings.  If they did, they most likely wouldn't be horrible coaches anymore.
Horrible coaches rarely recognize their own shortcomings. If they did, they most likely wouldn't be horrible coaches anymore.

1. Bad coaches play favorites.

If you want to be a lousy coach, then pick a favorite player. This player shouldn’t be the most hardworking player or the one with the best attitude. This player should JUST be a talented player or your own child. Make sure this player always knows they are your favorite. Make sure the whole team knows they are your favorite.

Allow them to have a bad attitude on the court or field. Don’t call them on it when they spend the whole game scowling, giving 50% effort, and yelling at their teammates for being less-than-perfect. In fact, also yell at all the other teammates to reinforce this player’s specialness and make sure the other players know their place.

Make sure you never take this player out of the game, no matter how many times they mess up. Don’t take them out of the game even when they cost you the game. You need to make sure they stay in the game to bring team morale down and make the other players feel bad. Take one of the other players out of the game when your favorite player messes up. This way he or she will know that the mistakes of the special player are their teammates' fault and not their own.

2. Lousy coaches only praise the team when they win games.

Of course, your only objective as a horrible coach is to win games. Right? So make sure that you ONLY compliment your team or any of its players (except for your favorite player) when the team is winning. When they are losing, make sure you call the team as you see it. Tell the players how un-athletic they look. Tell them that your 7th-grade sister is better than them. Make sure the team overhears you and your assistant coach talking trash about the players on the court/field so that they know exactly how horrible they are. (If you aren’t constantly tearing down your player’s self-confidence, you can’t actually call yourself a horrible coach!)

If they play really well against a really good team but still come up short. Make sure that they know their behavior was unacceptable and that you will not tolerate that kind of play ever again. Playing their hardest and losing is still losing. And losing is unacceptable.

You want to make sure your team knows that it’s not how they play the game; it’s whether they win or lose. We can’t have ANY of this touchy-feely, “You played great, but you just came up short today.” Crap. That kind of talk is for Good Coaches, AKA—LOSERS.

When players make mistakes, you should help them understand how to correct them, not make them feel bad for making the mistakes.
When players make mistakes, you should help them understand how to correct them, not make them feel bad for making the mistakes.

3. When players make mistakes, don’t correct them. Belittle them instead.

When the players on the court/field make a mistake, make sure you yell at them! Make sure you tell those players exactly how horrible that mistake was and do it loudly and with the angriest face you can muster. IF they have the AUDACITY to ask you what they did wrong or how to correct it, ignore them. If they don’t already know what they are doing wrong, you sure as heck are not going to tell them! The only players that deserve correction are the best players (AKA favorite player). The rest of them deserve only your anger and ridicule.

Another thing to remember is that whenever possible, belittle a player individually in front of his or her teammates. Make sure everybody on the team knows just how bad they are and how badly they screwed up. This sends a message out to all the other players that they had better not ever make a mistake!

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Horrible coaches make the bench feel like they don't matter.
Horrible coaches make the bench feel like they don't matter.

4. Bad coaches make sure the bench knows how unimportant they are.

Most of your time should be spent ignoring these players. They are on the bench and, therefore, not important to the team. When you ignore them long enough, they might begin to lose enthusiasm for the game and stop cheering. Make sure to snap at them if they do this and blame them for mistakes being made on the court/field.

When you are angry at the players on the court/field, make sure you yell at your bench about it. Yell at the bench for all the mistakes being made by the players, even if nobody on the bench has played in the game. This serves two functions. The first is that it helps you keep those bench players in their place, and it makes the players on the court/field feel bad for their teammates. As a bonus, it’s more yelling you get to do, and every horrible coach LOVES to yell!

When you are beating another team by a HUGE margin, make sure to ignore your bench players and leave your starters in for the duration of the game. DON’T give those sniveling bench players ANY credit for this win. And make sure you tell them if they DARE ask why they can’t play in this game, that you can’t put them in because they might “screw it up.”

What are they going to do, quit? BWAHAHHAHAHAHA! Like you care about those bench players anyway. They should feel honored to even sit on the same bench as you and the starters.

5. Don’t make any changes when the team is continuously losing games.

The only important thing to a horrible coach is to WIN GAMES. But if you find yourself losing games, DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT change things up! This is simply admitting you made a mistake, and Horrible Coaches NEVER admit to mistakes!! If the lineup or the offense or defense you are running does not work, make it all about the team’s lack of ability to execute your brilliant game plan.

Don’t ever change your game plan, don’t make changes to the starting lineup, you can’t do any of that. They need to WIN GAMES, and they need to do it YOUR WAY! So what if every person on the team and every person in the stands can see that YOUR WAY isn’t working. It’s your way or the highway. You are not going to ever give them the satisfaction of knowing that they might be right about something.

What you SHOULD do is make the players RUN. Don’t work on the things your team needs to work on to improve. Heck, as a horrible coach, you probably don’t even know what that is, anyway. The best way to cure a poor performance in a game is to make them RUN in practice. Make them run until they puke. This way, they will be scared to ever lose again. You want those players scared to make mistakes! That will bring out the best in them!

6. Lousy coaches are overly concerned that players like them.

The Horrible Coach may be confused by this, but hear me out. You need to feel like the players like you. When you aren’t in the gym with them, stop them in the hallway to chat. Ask them to babysit your kids. Tell them you like their clothes/hair/shoes whatever. Smile at them whenever you see them (ONLY outside the gym, no smiling at them in the gym!). Talk to other people about them like you TRULY know and understand them and they are your friends.

At the end of the season, cry. Tell the graduating players how important they were (even the bench players if they haven’t quit already!) and how much you enjoyed the season. Be as over the top yet insincere about it as you can be. Make it all a spectacle all about you. Talk to the parents and always tell them how important their child is to you. Make them all walk away feeling warm and fuzzy.

This serves three points. First, the players may actually forget all the horrible things you did over the year, and come back and play for you again next year. Second, it confuses them and makes them doubt their perspective on you in the gym. Finally, it makes the parents LOVE you! And as long as the parents think that you think THEIR child is special and important, they won’t appeal to the board that you be fired.

Brilliant, huh?


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    • profile image


      6 months ago

      Man up and take a stand for your kids! Even volunteers need to be supervised!!!!

    • profile image


      7 months ago

      How is it our society allows horrible coaches to keep their positions? We apparently allow this to happen frequently. How coaches are hired and allowed to maintain their position needs to fundamentally change.

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      If this isn’t the most factual thing I’ve ever seen


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