The key to great coaching is for coaches to have the esteem, respect and loyalty of their athletes. That means having your own house in order. Here are some of the habits of the best coaches the sporting world has ever seen.
Wooden tops ESPN's list of greatest all-time coaches. His memoirs, scattered throughout numerous books he has authored, share his strategies for success. One thing success requires is action. If an athlete wants to improve, he must act. If a team wants to win, they must act. Every action must be progressive. Sometimes progress is linear, building directly upon previous success. Other times, if failure has occurred, the action must involve learning from that failure. This may include tearing down an old habit and rebuilding another, more successful one.
He was known for never taking anything for granted. With each player, as well at the team as a whole, Lombardi always started from scratch, building up exactly what he wanted. Lombardi focused on the fundamentals. Drilling fundamentals led to a best-in-the-league team, outperforming everyone else on basics they had come to take for granted. Fundamentals are the foundations upon which details are built. If the foundation is not sound, those details won't matter.
Bryant attributes his success to appreciating and respecting the element of time. He is quoted as saying, "What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it." This mean that Bear Bryant set an example for those he coached of extreme discipline. It wasn't enough to have the will to win. Winners must have the will to prepare in order to win. He was also the epitome of leadership for his team. He knew that as he accepted accountability, so would they. Yet Bryant also endeared himself to his athletes by recognizing their contributions. His accountability philosophy can be summed up in this quote: "If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it."
Boston University hangs our custom banners in their gym for motivation & pride
Smith co-authored a book, The Carolina Way, which shares his principles for being a championship coach. As he outlines the most important traits a winning coach should have, caring is number one. Most people think of coaches as strict disciplinarians, no-nonsense and emotionally detached. Not so for Smith. Although he was demanding, he was equally genuine in his care and personal concern for each player he coached. His players knew this and responded by giving their most devoted efforts in training and competition.
Auerbach's secret to winning is really no big secret. Not only was he a committed coach training NBA champions, he was also a devoted mentor, grooming future championship coaches. His not-so-secret secret? Teamwork. Putting together a winning team means drawing from a pool of potential players who exhibited the greatest talent. Often, large egos accompany great talent. Auerbach's finesse at meshing these egos together into a team was magical. Rather than have a team of superstars battling for one to capture the glory and spotlight, he focused on developing a team culture. He strove for athletes to care more about their teammates than themselves.
One thing all winning coaches have in common is knowing how to motivate their teams and athletes. From the athlete's perspective, here are 5 things that motivate them the most:
- Love of what they are doing.
- Moving forward quickly after a mistake.
- Replacing the goal of perfection with excellence.
- Confidence that a training program is creating championship skills.
- Winning for the team.
If you want to motivate your players, take a cue from Auerbach and begin building a team culture. Don't just fly college banners and pennants around stadiums and gymnasiums. Hang them up in practice areas and locker rooms as well. Visual reminders with powerful messages and inspirational quotes help skilled teammates remain grounded in the knowledge that winning comes from their contribution, not their solo effort.
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