10 Most Controversial Coaching Methods in Pro Sports

Talent only gets a team, any team, so far during pro sports seasons. Take the Chicago Bulls of old for example. The consensus agreement on the matter is that Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of the National Basketball Association, but nobody knows how far Jordan and the Bulls would have gone without Phil Jackson leading the way. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady already has a spot in Canton waiting for him even before he calls time on his playing days, and he owes more than gratitude to head coach Bill Belichick for all that he has achieved in the National Football League.

For every great coach who leads teams to championships and memorable runs that create legacies, there are groups and groups of coaches who had forgettable moments, lackluster careers and who held sides back and even, in some cases, turned winners into losers. The days of franchises and clubs having patience with coaches disappeared long ago, and thus losing teams more often than not abandon ship and press the figurative “reset” button rather than giving a coach/manager adequate time to rebuild, right the ship and prove that he is still capable of getting the job done for his current employer.

Not all coaching methods that could be considered to be questionable necessarily led to teams experiencing negative results. It is quite the contrary in some cases, actually, but winning games, matches and even trophies does not always keep a coach from being criticized in the media or by fans who spend money on merchandise and to attend contests. Other instances of controversial coaching methods were downright classless, causing reputations to be negatively impacted and ultimately costing people jobs. That does not, however, mean that fans and analysts will never again see these methods in the future in the amateur and pro ranks.

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10 Parking the Bus

Via brunchnews.com

While it is a coaching method that has often been associated with Chelsea, “parking the bus” has been utilized by a variety of football/soccer clubs in matches. A team that is either winning or in need of a draw as a positive result will drop nine or even ten players, along with the goalkeeper, behind the ball in a defensive position, erecting a human wall in front of the penalty area. This makes it difficult for the opposition to find the back of the net, but it also makes for one incredibly boring sporting event for spectators in attendance and for those who are watching on television.

9 Neutral Zone Trap

Via youtube.com

Just how controversial you view this coaching method as may depend on what type of National Hockey League fan you have been over the years. Those who have cheered on the likes of the Montreal Canadiens or the New Jersey Devils, for example, may be big fans of the neutral zone trap. While this style of play has produced positive results on the domestic and international levels, it has also generated some bland and boring hockey for neutral fans. The biggest reason that hockey supporters have hit out at the trap is that it works when it is properly executed, showing that boring hockey can also prove to be winning hockey.

8 The Infield Shift

Via truebluela.com

There are two aspects of this Major League Baseball coaching methods that are controversial: Its use and also how opposing batters have reacted to it. The idea that a manager would have the majority of his infield players all line up on one side of the field just to take away potential base hits seems ridiculous in that professional hitters should, in theory, be able to place the ball through a gap in the defense. That has not always been the case, however, as in some cases, bouts of pride have led to hitters attempting to show that no such “shift” can keep them off of the base paths.

7 Read-Option Offense

Via muthead.com

It has been all the rage in high school and college football for decades, so naturally some National Football League head coaches wanted to bring that offensive style to the pros. Teams such as the Miami Dolphins and the Denver Broncos – the latter utilizing the often controversial Tim Tebow at quarterback – found success for a time running such an unorthodox NFL offense, but opposing defensive coordinators and head coaches eventually caught up. Will the Cleveland Browns, with Johnny Manziel under center, be able to make it work? We shall see.

6 Bean-ball

Via darkroom.baltimoresun.com

You won't see this controversial coaching method too much in MLB these days, as umpires have been instructed to do whatever possible to limit instances of batters being intentionally plunked by pitches. This idea involves a manager inserting a relief pitcher into a game with one objective in mind: Hit a batter with a pitch to either send a message to a man who has been an offensive powerhouse or to get revenge because of an incident that occurred either earlier in that same game or during a prior contest. These moments would often lead to bench-clearing brawls, the types of highlights that those running MLB would love to avoid.

5 Prevent Defense

Via espn.go.com

There is an old saying among NFL fans, analysts and even coaches who have, in the past, utilized this controversial method: Playing prevent defense only prevents you from winning games. A coach utilizing the prevent defense late in a game when his side is up makes sense on paper. He is, after all, merely attempting to keep the opposing offense from hitting on a deep pass that could put that unit in scoring position. The prevent has its flaws, however, specifically in that it opens possibilities up for underneath routes that can lead to first downs and to significant offensive drives that can be completed in under two minutes of gameplay even if no timeouts are used.

4 Hack-a-Shaq

Via killingthebreeze.com

The controversial coaching method that was once used to keep dominant center Shaquille O'Neal from depositing easy buckets could, sooner or later, be coming to an end. How the NBA will keep defenses from intentionally fouling awful free-throw shooters throughout contests is not yet known. Perhaps the league could institute a rule that allows teams to pick which player trots out to the charity stripe whenever a shooting foul occurs during games. While coaches have been keen on utilizing this defensive plan for decades, fans have hit out against it since O'Neal was the method's first victim.

3 The “Goon”

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports Images

It is difficult and even impossible for some hockey purists to imagine that there could soon come a day when fighting will be outlawed during NHL games. That was, of course, never a worry for coaches decades ago, and some of them would insert “goons” into games from time to time who were tasked with the job of either instigating a fight or even attempting to “rough up” an opposing player. Hockey is a physical game that is unlike any other pro sport out there, and thus there are conversations to be had about the merits of teams having “goons” and other rough-and-tough athletes on rosters.

2 Chip Kelly

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“What is Chip Kelly up to now?” has been a popular question among NFL fans and analysts since he took over as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly has stockpiled quarterbacks during his tenure at the club, bringing in the likes of Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow to possibly compete with former New York Jets castoff Mark Sanchez. We have also witnessed the curious pictures that Kelly and his staff have utilized while coaching on the sidelines during games. Either Kelly is foolishly trying to reinvent the wheel with his methods, or he is a revolutionary who is going to change the NFL.

1 Running Up the Score

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You have your opponent soundly beaten with plenty of time left on the clock or several innings left to play. You can do one of two things: Either let up off of the figurative gas pedal, or continue to hammer the opposition until the game mercifully comes to an end. What has made “running up the score” such a controversial coaching method is that players and coaches log such events in their memories while waiting for opportunities to obtain revenge for that one game. This can lead to scraps and downright brawls occurring when the two teams involved in the original game again meet up on the field.

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