Should a coach scrimmage with the team?

Today’s subject addresses the issue of coaches playing with their team in training.

Should a coach scrimmage with the team in training?  Are there advantages?  Disadvantages?

It’s not unusual to see coaches scrimmaging with their teams during training sessions and the question is, whether this is in the best interests of the team.

Let’s start with some basics.  If the plan is to play 8 v 8 and there are only 15 players at training, that would be a good reason for the coach to consider stepping in and playing (although there is always the option of 7 v 7 plus 1).

If the training session worked on overlapping runs and the coach notices there are overlapping runs being made in the scrimmage BUT the players with the ball weren’t using these runs, the coach might step on the field for the specific purpose of showing the players when and how to use the overlapping runs in the game situation.  In a situation such as this, the coach would see the problem, try to correct the problem (in this case by demonstrating) and then step away in order to allow the players to then try it on their own.

If the coach notices the scrimmage is very haphazard and wants things settled down, the coach might join the scrimmage, demonstrate some leadership and then step away.

If the coach notices one player dominating the scrimmage and wants to put more pressure on that one player, the coach might join the scrimmage (provided they are of a level to make it difficult for this dominant player).

What are some reasons a coach should not participate in a scrimmage?

When the coach is scrimmaging, they are not evaluating the players.  The first part of training is the teaching session.  The scrimmage part is like an exam in school.  A coach must give their players the opportunity to try things on their own, to see whether they really learned.  If the players don’t have the opportunity to try things, and the coach doesn’t have the opportunity to evaluate, a big part of the learning process is missed.

When a coach is much bigger than the players and the coach plays at full speed, it puts the players at risk for injury.

As you can see above, there are reasons a coach should and shouldn’t scrimmage with a team.  Too often, when I see coaches involved with their teams scrimmage, it’s because they want to show off for their own ego or they are bored and want to play.  In both of these cases, they are doing it for the wrong reason.

If a coach isn’t comfortable scrimmaging with their team is that ok?  Yes!  If a coach always wants to scrimmage with their team is that ok?  Probably not.

Like most things in life, there is a time and place when it’s appropriate but there should be a reason for the decision.

Posted in Coaching, Conditioning | 1 Comment

One Response to “Should a coach scrimmage with the team?”

  1. Jeff says:

    Another reason to not participate in scrimmage/drill as the coach – If it takes a player out of the game. I thought it so absurd at my daughter’s summer academy (I was not coaching, just observing) that TWO coaches were involved in a small-sided game while TWO players were rotating in and out. The coaches were not making the drill any better by participating for the ENTIRE time. I agree wholly with the article above (step in, correct/demonstrate, step out) but in my nearly 20 years of coaching will never join a drill or scrimmage if it means taking minutes away from one of my players!

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