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While most coaching will occur during practice, coaching on game day is also very important. Coaching from the sidelines lets the athletes know if they are executing plays and game strategy well. A good coach knows that coaching during game day gives athletes confidence and validates what they are doing is part of the game plan.

On game day, try to make sure you have a solid game plan.  Go over strategies and tactics used during practice including the scouting report on the opposing team. Make sure your athletes know what defensive and offensive schemes are going to be utilized. Also, ensure that the athletes know who is on the starting line up and when substitutions will occur.

During the game, one of the most important things a coach can do is help the athletes control their emotions. Remaining calm, giving positive feedback and keeping the athletes focused allows them to make better decisions. A coach should also consider:

  • Defensive tactics by understanding the offensive scheme your opponent is going to utilize during the game. If your team’s defensive strategy is not working, make changes.
  • Depending on your opponents defensive strategy, implement an offensive attack that will help your team succeed.
  • Use your substitutions appropriately so every player can have a chance to play.
  • Use your timeouts wisely as doing so can allow you to change the momentum of the game, rest your players and make substitutions.
  • Use the half time break to make any necessary adjustments while keeping the mood positive and communicating changes clearly.

Game day coaching brings challenges and excitement.  Coaches have to do their preparation ahead of time in order to ready their teams for playing well. During a game, things happen quickly and certain changes will have to be made on the fly. A coach has to also be able to use his or her timeouts, substitutions and game strategies wisely.

Once the game is over, your coaching duties are not necessarily over. Use your post-game analysis to give feedback and constructive criticism. This will let the players know what they did well and what they need to work on to better their game. Whether it is coaching at practice or during games, ensure your athletes are always learning and developing in a positive and fun environment.

References Available from the SIRC Collection

1. McCarry P. Game Day Coaching: The weekend contest should be viewed as an extension of the weekday training sessions. Soccer Journal. September 2007;52(5):8-9.

2. McIntyre E. That Eye in the Sky. Coach & Athletic Director. January 2006;75(6):60-62.

3. Millard L. Differences in coaching behaviors of male and female high school soccer coaches. Journal Of Sport Behavior. January 1996;19(1):19.

4. Mouchet A, Harvey S, Light R. A study on in-match rugby coaches’ communications with players: a holistic approach. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy. May 2014;19(3):320-336.

5. Sheridan M. Coaching Decision-Making Skills: Using a Tactical Games Approach in Coaching. Future Focus (Ohio Association For Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance). May 2011;32(1):14-17.

6. Vargas T, Short S. Athletes’ perceptions of the psychological, emotional, and performance effects of coaches’ pre-game speeches. International Journal Of Coaching Science. January 2011;5(1):27-43.



The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.