Oregon coaches refuse to yell at players

January 9, 2015 / CoachingFootball
There are a few topics in coaching that always seem to strike a nerve, and yelling has always been one of them. Some don’t see the problem, while others are vehemently against berating players.

The Oregon Ducks football team supports the latter. The Wall Street Journal recently published a feature examining the program’s philosophy and culture, taking a particularly close look at how coaches refuse to raise their voices to players.

Here is a excerpt from the piece:

In a move that may send football traditionalists into a sideline meltdown, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich and his staff have ditched the age-old technique of screaming at players to motivate them. Instead, Oregon’s coaches have implemented a softer, less confrontational and altogether cuddlier method of running their team.

“It’s not about who can scream the loudest,” said Helfrich, the Ducks’ 41-year-old second-year coach. “We have excellent specialists in their field, great leaders of young men that need to teach guys what to do, to show them and tell them and find a way to bring that home. There’s hopefully way more talking than yelling.” 

Granted, the Oregon practice facility won’t be mistaken for the library. But players say that raised voices are almost unheard of during team meetings or workouts these days.

Rather than scream at a player over a dropped pass or a key penalty, Oregon’s coaches rarely react with anything more severe than an arm around the shoulder and some gentle words of encouragement.

Coach & Athletic Director has tackled this issue before, as has our sister publication Winning Hoops, and commenters regularly debate it. Some argue yelling is necessary for motivating athletes, but it’s hard to hold that line when teams like the Ducks are playing for a national championship.

Regardless of what examples are out there, the debate won’t go away. With that being said, it’s refreshing to see that coaches are finding success with alternative methods of motivation.


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