Why Do Basketball Coaches Yell?

When you watch professional basketball games in person, it is easy to notice that most of the coaching staffs do not speak very often.

The head coach will usually make every effort to communicate with his team during timeouts or half-time breaks.

Even when he does talk, he may only say one word per sentence.

In contrast, there are always several assistant coaches yelling at each other as well as making comments about strategies and line-ups.

It seems like they can’t stop talking.

So, why do these coaches like to yell a lot from the side lines?

Well, here’s an answer that succinctly sums this question up…

Basketball coaches yell at players when they want to convey tactical instructions that can influence the flow of the game. In other situations, coaches yell at their players to motivate and encourage them as they perform. On the flip side, yelling can be a way of showing frustration at how a player is performing or as a way of giving them real-time game feedback.

Now that you’ve got a bit of an idea why basketball coaches like to shout at the top of their voices, let’s explore this topic even further.

Why do basketball coaches yell so much?

Here are four explanations that describe the aforementioned points in greater depth.

1. To provide tactical instructions for players

why basketball coaches yell - to provide tactical instructions

While the head coach provides general guidance for how the game should play out, he must also instruct his players on what actions to take in specific situations.

For example, if the defense has two defenders guarding an opponent shooting guard who happens to be dribbling near midcourt, the defense needs to know which defender to hedge toward and which side to cover.

This requires information from the coach regarding where the shooter will end up after he makes his shot and whether or not he will pass the ball. If the defensive coverage isn’t correct, this could leave an open teammate vulnerable to a fast break layup.

The assistant coaches help the team by shouting out these types of details. “Cover him!” or “Defender 2 hedges right” would let everyone on the team know exactly where they need to position themselves.

If the defense doesn’t get the call correctly, the next time down the floor, the offensive team might get a good look at a wide open three pointer because the defense was too busy trying to figure out what was going on.

2. To motivate and encourage their players

why basketball coaches yell - to motivate and encourage their players

One way that a coach can inspire his team is by yelling things like, “Come on! We’ve got them beat! Keep your eyes on the rim!”

When a player hears encouragement like this, it gives him extra energy.

He feels more confident knowing that the coach believes in him and thinks he can win.

There are many ways a coach can use words to motivate his team, but some examples include phrases such as:

  • “We’re playing our style,”
  • “Let’s go out here and dominate,”
  • “Focus!”; and
  • “We only have 10 seconds left.”

These statements build confidence and urgency.

They tell the players what type of intensity they need to perform at in order to win.

With the right tone of voice, a coach can even turn negative events into positive ones.

For instance, if a foul was called against the offense, he could shout something like, “That’s OK! Let’s keep our focus now!”

3. To show frustration at a player’s mistakes

why basketball coaches yell - to show frustration at player mistakes

During games, sometimes a player makes a mistake that frustrates the coach.

Maybe a player misses a shot or commits a turnover.

In response, the coach yells out something like, “What are you doing?” or “You suck!”

These kinds of comments aren’t meant to embarrass anyone.

Instead, the point is to emphasize the importance of performing at a high level in all aspects of basketball.

Sometimes, players just need to hear someone expressing concern over a bad moment.

As long as it doesn’t happen constantly, it helps the player feel supported.

On the other hand, it is important to remember that a coach shouldn’t yell at a player simply because he made a mistake.

If a player gets lazy and stops running backboards, then maybe the coach should remind him why that skill is important.

But yelling at a player for missing shots or committing turnovers shows poor sportsmanship.

4. To give players feedback on their performance

why basketball coaches yell - to give players feedback on their performance

Sometimes coaches yell things like, “Feed me!” or “Pass it off!”

At first glance, these comments seem unfair since the opposing team also gets to feed the ball.

However, yelling things like this actually benefits both teams.

A coach can use these sorts of comments to review a play that went poorly.

He might want to see how quickly the offense feeds the ball once the opposition is beaten deep.

Or perhaps the defense didn’t react properly when the ball was passed across the net.

A coach can use these types of comments to teach better techniques for future plays.

After watching video replays, he can explain how a certain strategy worked or failed and why it was effective or ineffective.

5. To confuse the opposition

Another reason to yell things like, “Feed me!” is to create confusion among the players on the defensive team.

By saying this, the coach is hoping to catch his opponents flatfooted and unprepared.

The offensive team can exploit this situation by getting an uncontested basket.

Is it okay for a coach to yell?

Many NBA coaches believe that yelling at referees is counterproductive and harmful to the integrity of the sport.

Some argue that coaches risk ruining their credibility with fans and media members alike by criticizing officials publicly.

Others claim that yelling distracts referees and hinders their ability to make calls.

However, other coaches disagree strongly.

Many argue that a coach’s job involves communicating with players and telling them what to do.

Since the coach is in charge, it is his responsibility to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

He is responsible for setting the tempo and pace of the game.

So, in his view, it is fair to expect him to yell.

Whether or not a coach should yell depends heavily upon the circumstances.

There are times when yelling is appropriate, and there are times when it is inappropriate.

Before deciding whether or not to yell as a coach, it is best to consider the following factors:

  • What kind of game is being played? Is it a close contest between two evenly matched teams? Then it is likely okay to yell.
  • How badly did the team lose? Will the loss affect its morale? If so, it is probably best to avoid yelling.
  • Who are the players? Are they superstars or role players? Role players tend to be less sensitive than superstars. Therefore, it is acceptable to yell at them without worrying about hurting their feelings.
  • How familiar are the players with the coach? Players may become angry at hearing criticism from a coach that they don’t respect. On the other hand, if players already know the coach well, they may respond positively to constructive criticism.

Coaches should be aware that yelling can lead to retaliation.

One way to prevent this is to ask a player before the game starts whether he is comfortable with yelling.

Ideally, the player should agree to be calm and collected while yelling.

If not, find another solution.

Perhaps the coach can adjust his body language to convey the same message.

Final thoughts

Some people think that yelling is unprofessional and unsportsmanlike.

If a coach were to yell at home spectators, however, this behavior would earn him scorn and ridicule from fans.

Most people understand that coaches must communicate with their players through shouts and gestures.

They also realize that screaming obscenities at players and referees won’t bring about any change in results.

No matter what a coach decides to do, it is always best to maintain control of emotions.

Coaching is a highly emotional profession.

While it is natural for coaches to yell, it is crucial to remain composed at all times.

If you’ve found this article to be quite informing, then you should check out some of our other posts like:

Happy reading!

About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.