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Authoritarian coach


Authoritarian Coach


”It is undignified and offending when we need to obey orders,

although we are more than ready for cooperation.”

- Jesper Juul -



The coach keeps his integrity by firm authority, he has knowledge and experience or he is young and ambitious, he thinks kids have to become senior players before having an opinion and till then they need a firm hand.

The development is based on his demand for repetition of what brings results; everything else is stopped.

Relationship is marked by high level of control, moralising, criticising, excessive praise, mockery, offending, intolerance; if there is a conflict – it is clear who is to blame.

We hope there is less and less physical punishment or that is completely gone.

Judging by himself, he does not allow a child to deviate, to be different from “given model”, to have diverse playing development (he knows what the best is for a player).

”He does that by criticising “bad ones” and praising “good “ones

and he reaches his goal: everybody does things the way they should be done.

The area of responsibility is not clearly divided: coach is the person with the ultimate authority, his power is unlimited, and a player’s area of responsibility is to carry through coach’s will.

Given this division of responsibility, we see a paradox situation:

”A player makes decision about the game;

a coach is denying him the right to do it.”

Their relationship is changing from one situation to another, depending on what suits the coach in given moment.

The word  „responsibility“ we use in a context of making decision, meaning taking responsibility for deciding, not in a context of taking responsibility for consequences of those decisions.

(Too)often we witness situations in which a person takes responsibility for deciding, while leaving the responsibility for consequences of those decisions to somebody else, especially in the case of failure.

A person is happy to take over a responsibility for success from a person who took responsibility for making a good decision.

Leading a young team in such way will usually give quick results.


Authoritarian coach leads kids by giving direct instructions - offering ready-to-use solutions which he came up with through his own experience or personal reflection.

”There is already somebody at trainings who will tell them how to behave,

what to think,

when to listen,

what they are allowed to say,

where they should stand,

why they should be happy –

at trainings there will be a leader in a person of a coach.”

He will lead them and with his power he has overtaken their internal leadership, since he knows it better.

”Kids listen.

Thinking and seeking solutions, they will learn somewhere else.”

If they are lucky, they will find such place.

The problem is that these capabilities are being learnt from early childhood, and if not then, a grown up person is not capable of learning them or it is very difficult.

”What sense for self-worth

has a person who is not capable of taking care of himself

or does not make his own decisions?”

This is for us to judge.

”I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary.

The evil it does is permanent.”

- Mahatma Gandhi -

Authoritarian leadership is the method used in raising most of today’s middle generation in Croatia – most of us, today’s coaches and parents.

Success of this method is quickly visible: a coach (parent, teacher) gives an order to a child – child obeys: the goal is achieved.

”Children have a wonderful power of forgiveness,

they recover fast from an attack on their integrity

and seemingly they keep functioning well.”

Kids are especially easy to lead in this way: they trust, at least until they get into puberty and become capable of questioning adults and their behaviours.

In time, some will imitate this model in their relationship with other kids, or rarely, with the coach and thus relieve the burden of guilt and fear that he imposes: they act destructively on the team.

”Some other will equally be aggressive,

not towards other kids but towards themselves.”

They have a bigger problem: they are autodestructive.

If coach has a great knowledge about handball, adding up the numerous trainings and matches, talents of players, with time kids will learn a lot about the handball.

It is to expect that team will make good results, win medals on tournaments and at a first glance it seems all is well organised.

Such teams are usually very motivated for winning and that, especially at their early age of the handball development, mostly works for them.




They become obedient - do not resist

They become defiant - fight for their integrity

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