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Debunking Esports Myths: Coaching

If you can teach, you probably have the skills to coach esports.

Mar 11, 2020

If you’re a teacher or school employee, you’re surely aware of video games and their popularity among students. And, unless you’re a gamer yourself, this means you probably have a lot of questions about video games and esports. How is esports different? How do I know if I’m knowledgeable enough to coach? Do I need to join TikTok? Why do they keep saying ‘gank’? Is it a slur of some kind?

Don’t worry. These questions are common, understandable, and you’d be pleasantly surprised by the answers. There are only two real “requirements” to becoming a high school esports coach with PlayVS:

1) an interest in helping foster your students’ passion for a few hours a week. 

2) a willingness to check your ego and let those students lead if the situation requires it.

Everything else that may have you thinking you can’t coach esports is secondary to those two requirements. We talk to a lot of educators and many of them share similar reservations about coaching esports and, while they’re all understandable, they’re mostly unfounded. For specific examples, check out our Georgia Coach Stories to hear about the personal journeys of four different coaches with four different experience levels.

Here are some of the most common things we hear when someone doesn’t believe they can coach esports.

“I don’t know anything about the games.”

This is the most common concern. How can I coach an esport I don’t know that much about? Pretty reasonable concern. But, fortunately, game knowledge is not a barrier to coaching high school esports. Why? Because it’s likely your students will know more than you anyways. While this may sound like a problem, it’s actually one of the fundamental benefits of high school esports.

The dynamic between you, the esports coach, and one of your players will likely be different than you, the teacher, and one of your students. Esports provides an alternative meeting ground where you and your players can see one another in a different arena than a lecture-style classroom. All you have to do is support their passion and, when students feel supported, their confidence grows and they’ll develop natural leadership qualities. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of. Plus, the longer you coach, the more you’ll learn about the game and, in turn, be able to coach less savvy students in the future.

“I’ve never coached or advised on anything before.”

As we say around the PlayVS office, “if you can teach, you can coach”. While there are certainly coach-specific skills, the core message regularly proves itself to be true: the skills teachers use in their classroom every day translate over to coaching in every possible way. Encouragement, structure, planning, organization, student interaction skills — when you get right down to it, teachers have been training to be a coach for their entire teaching careers. Plus, as you just read, game-specific knowledge is not a requirement to coach esports. So, really, any teacher would likely make a fantastic esports coach.

“I’m not great with technology.”

That’s where PlayVS can help, in a couple ways. First, we have a team of esports specialists standing-by to help you through any issues you may encounter. They handle an incredibly broad range of questions from highly-detailed product specifics to ‘my computer won’t turn on’. Second, our platform handles the majority of the logistical tasks of running a program for you. From your coach dashboard, you can easily manage rosters, contact players and opponents, and scout future opponents.

“I don’t interact that much with students. Would students even be interested? How do I gauge interest?”

The great thing about esports is you probably won’t have to convince students to try it. The majority of students play video games already. Providing them with an opportunity to represent their school and win a state championship by doing something they would be doing anyways is often an easy sell. The best way to find out is to post some flyers around the school and hold an interest meeting. Once kids hear about esports, in our experience, they’re usually pretty excited about it.

Feeling apprehension at trying a new thing is understandable. Anything new can feel intimidating simply because it’s an unknown quantity. But, if you read through our website and listen to our coaches and players talk about it, it’s proved to be enough for thousands of coaches around the country to take a dive into something unfamiliar. And almost all of them came back for a second season, and a third, and, now a fourth.

So, take the leap — for your students — and give coaching esports a try. They’ll appreciate it for years to come and you’ll probably enjoy the hell out of it, too.

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