Could Zoom Coaching Be The Future?

There’s often been a debate about who is most responsible for a team’s success. Is it the players? After all, they’re the ones producing; doing the scoring, playing defense, etc. Or is it the coach? The coach is the one who directs the players, who essentially plays a giant game of chess against the opposing coach. Well, regardless of who’s more important, we know that they all have to be physically present, right? Right?

That doesn’t have to be the case in 2020. Club Tijuana coach Pablo Guede wasn’t able to be on the sideline after testing positive for COVID-19, so he did the coaching from the comfort of his own home by way of Zoom. By now, everyone knows what Zoom is. But it’s amazing that the video conferencing application was able to connect Guede and his players. Even though the team lost (they weren’t favorites against the superior Cruz Azul), Guede’s ability to coach the team while not being in the stadium was impressive.

However, it begs the question: Could a coach actually do his entire job in this way? What I mean is this: Could someone, who lived in the United States, coach a team based in Germany, for example, and never actually be in the same room with their players? Technically, it’s possible, as we saw with Guede. But I don’t believe it could ever be something sustainable and I’ll tell you why.

In order for a coach, regardless of sport, to be effective, they need to have a relationship with each and every one of their charges. Being coached by someone you don’t know well will always end poorly, as we’ve seen countless times over the many decades that professional sports have been contested. The fact is that a coach NEEDS to be there with their players. They need to be able to see what their players are seeing and hearing and feeling. What Pablo Guede did was interesting and remarkable, but it was only possible because he already had a relationship with his players. Just having a random person come coach a team and never meet them personally won’t ever work.

Simply put, it’s a stopgap measure. It’ll work for a week or however long it takes to recover from whatever ailment you might have, but the coach will always have to go back to the field/pitch/court/etc. in order to connect with the players and win games.

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