Coach’s Corner: Coaching — Traits and Attributes Needed for the Coaching Profession — Part IV
There are natural coaches and there are coaches who make themselves. The coaching fraternity is close-knit, a society if you will. As such the first traits needed to succeed are simple virtues, namely loyalty and commitment. There may not be two more powerful forces for unity and success in the coaching world.
Head coaches demand both traits and a young coach who does not show the work ethic or passion needed to be fully committed will not be a part of a successful program for long. Loyalty is a must as the mission is singular and united. There is always room for argument in coaching rooms or informed discussion, but once the planning is done and the program goes forth, there cannot be dissension and back-handedness, there must be professionalism as the program is executed. In today’s coaching world there are models that stress shared responsibility and shared decision-making, providing all participants in the process a sense of ownership. This frequently carries over to some degree to veteran players or even an entire team. But once the course of action is charted, the ship must sail and stay afloat in calm or rough seas alike.
A coach must be a manager, especially the head-coach. It is invaluable for a young assistant to work with a managerial genius. There are differences regarding how much teaching and learning can be crammed into a two-hour practice. Coaches on teams with less talent, but more managerial and teaching skill will narrow the gap (sans injuries) as the season progresses. All of you have heard the expression “You do not want to play those guys at the end of the season.”
Managerial efficiency can be a gift but it is more frequently learned. This competency relies on the part of the brain that is responsible for executive functioning, the frontal lobe. College and professional teams hire head coaches who have demonstrated proficiency in organization and management. Time-usage, classification for clarity and understanding, model making, evaluation procedures, and strategies for improvement (goals, objectives, etc.), are skills that business/coaching models readily incorporate into training and practice.
Although coaches are judged, by some, as being intellectually inferior, that simply is not the case. Success in coaching, in part, is linked to cognitive skills such as analysis and decision-making that create conditions associated with correction and improvement. Coaches start off by creating and putting into place program philosophies, from which developmental programs follow. Coaches must excel in analysis that frequently is combined with player and program evaluation. This never-ending process happens at practice, in the press-box, on the sideline, at team meetings, and in the film-room. The modern coaching model places value on intellectual proficiency as a needed attribute within the coaching ranks.Conditions that Limit the Appeal for Coaching as a Prime Career
The first limitation is money, too little money. The obtainment of tangible achievements (winning, etc.) and the satisfaction of helping others have historically been intrinsic rewards long associated with teaching and coaching. This remains so at the high school and middle school levels. But the lack of money is a limitation that ends the coaching career of many fine coaches.
However, major college and professional programs are now money factories that pay a premium for wins. As a result one limitation to coaching success is the reality that the lure of a hefty salary and professional prestige is countered by the possibility of an entire staff being relieved of employment with short notice. This scenario entails uprooting families from a community and starting over the less than enjoyable cycle of job searching and resettlement.
Job expectations/responsibilities/duties can limit the appeal of continuing coaching as a career. As coaches obtain positions described as promotions, difficult circumstances arise. What started out as a 2 hour a night commitment for three months at the middle school can become a job that requires working past 10:00 or later most of the year. A time commitment like this can be brutal and as one hall of fame coach stated to the author, “The spouse of a coach is as giving as the coach and such dedication should be rewarded.”
Long hours are also associated with traveling. For the high school staff, this entails scratching off family time for most of a weekend for the benefit of the program. For the college and professional coach, there may be periods of several days before the front door of the home is seen.
Sport as a collective entity is a very competitive venture and being thin-skinned is a liability. Coaching is a pressure cooker for some and an adrenaline rush, for others, who thrive on challenge. Now matter how successful, there will be personal affronts, anywhere from a mocking comment from the stands that holds little meaning to national attention where a coach, staff, and program (and as such the associated entity) receive merciless criticism.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
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