What makes a good coach? Take a minute and think. I’ll wait…
Now, think about the best coaches who’ve ever lived. What do these uber coaches have that seems elusive to us mere mortals? What’s the difference between a good coach and a legend? I think uber coaches all share some common characteristics. Somehow, they crank their coaching fundamental dials up to 11. These coaches know just what to do to make a difference, whether it be in the game or in an athlete’s life. We’ve all known a coach like this. Which traits of the uber coach do you have?
1. They’re always prepared.
I don’t believe in team motivation. I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on the field. -Tom Landry
Games run so much smoother when you’re prepared. No surprises. No headaches. That goes for you and your players. When you’re prepared you can focus on helping your team execute the game plan. If someone’s out of line, coaches can isolate and deal with that individual. If you’ve done your job, the athlete who steps up should be just as prepared. This preparation starts during Monday practice. Every coach knows that productive practices are essential to winning, that every minute is critical. Problem is: players don’t. The coach has to sell the the idea of preparation to their team. More importantly, the team has to buy in. The uber coached team will crave the opportunity to improve, even if they know it means more work.
2. They make athletes into better people.
What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player. -John Wooden
It’s just a game. It’s more than a game. How can both of these contradictory statements about sports be true? An uber coach sees right through this paradox. They realize that the same qualities that make champion athletes also make champion humans. Trustworthiness, leadership, determination. The reverse is also true. Some people naturally apply their life skills to their sport and succeed. Uber coaches understand that one athlete’s poor performance might mean bigger problems. So, they address the root cause and avoid treating superficial symptoms.
An uber coach will find ways for their team to contribute to the community off the field. Whether your team goes on litter patrol or visits local hospitals, it is important to teach athletes how to give back to the community that supports them.
3. They innovate.
The uber coach realizes that being innovative means a lot more than inventing trick plays, schemes, or formations. Instead, they understand how to study and scout their own team closely. They find unique ways to use the strengths of the team. They put each player in a position to achieve success. From the outside looking in, letting your sophomore receiver return punts seems crazy. But the uber coach knows he hasn’t dropped a ball all week during practice. Where someone else would have fumbled, this kid can catch punts in traffic and contribute.
4. They communicate clearly.
Communication does not always occur naturally, even among a tight-knit group of individuals. Communication must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one. -Mike Krzyzewski
The best coaches understand that it doesn’t matter what you say, but rather how the message is received. They speak and know how to get results. Uber coaches have a goal in mind when they say anything. Their words are carefully chosen to ensure the listener has no other choice than to understand. The coach is a conduit of knowledge and experience to the staff, players, parents, and fans.
Top coaches also understand that you can’t reach all athletes with the same message. Some athletes need to be encouraged with a pat on the back after they make a bad play, while some players need a more direct style of communication in order to refocus. Great coaches will know what buttons to push on each player to make them reach their full potential.
You must learn how to hold a team together. You must lift some men up, calm others down, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat. Then you’ve got yourself a team. -Bear Bryant
5. They inspire passion.
You can motivate by fear and you can motivate by reward…both methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self-motivation. -Homer Rice
I’ve never heard of an unpassionate coach. But I’ve seen hundreds of athletes who could care less about their commitment to the team. It’s not enough to be passionate. An uber coach must inspire passion. With that passion, players are motivated, focused, and willing to give the oft-wished “110%”.
You can help inspire passion through work ethic. A strong work ethic is a quality that can’t be overemphasized. Coaches must be willing to put forth as much time and effort as they demand from their players. Why? Because, it’s true that you can “outwork” an opponent. Persistence and mental toughness are qualities I refer to as the “bulldog” attitude. A coach with this attitude will never give in to failure, and can serve as an inspiration to his players. The players believe that they can trust their coach to help them find a way to succeed.
Talent is the desire to practice. -Malcom Gladwell
We want to hear from our uber coaches. Leave a comment below with coaching tips and traits that have inspired you.
Greg works a dual role at Agile Sports Technologies in both client support making sure you coaches stay happy and quality assurance making sure Hudl stays in tip-top shape. Outside of Agile, Greg coaches football for a local high school.