Coach’s firing puts spotlight on ’old school’ tactics

January 14, 2015 / BasketballCoaching
An Oregon high school basketball coach was fired last week following a tournament where school officials say he made contact with one of his athletes.

The nature of the contact is unclear — video exists, and some initially called it a head-butt — but the incident raises issue with “old school” coaching tactics and whether schools will crack down on them.

The Oregonian recently published a lengthy piece looking at this very issue, and it’s worth your time. Here is an excerpt:

Lake Oswego (High School’s) administration did not elaborate on its decision to cut loose its state-championship-winning coach, referencing only an “incident” at the tournament. But a video appears to show a heated (Mark) Shoff physically confronting one of his players in a huddle during a timeout.

Shoff’s stunning ouster not only is resonating in boys basketball circles, but it has shined a spotlight on coach conduct. What is unacceptable behavior for a coach in dealing with athletes? Are some hard-line coaching methods, so familiar to previous generations, really abusive? And how common are such tactics today?

“That’s old school,” said Rob Younger, executive director of the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association. “I think the majority of coaches have gone away from that because that is old-school coaching. We continually teach positive reinforcement. There’s a time and a need for constructive criticism, but student-athletes respond much more to positive reinforcement.”

This is a debate that won’t go away. I recently attended a clinic where one of the speakers denounced the “feminization of America,” and I’m sure a lot of coaches out there share this mindset. They argue athletes are coddled when strict leadership is the only way to instill toughness.


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