Coaches at high levels at prestigious programs must win to keep their jobs. Winning consistently makes recruiting easier, keeps the fan base energized, the administration and boosters happy, and the financial bottom line healthy. But when the awards for the championships and the successful careers have been given, has the coach been a good coach?
There is an old saying, “Don’t confuse winning with good coaching.” Games are sometimes won because of good coaching and sometimes despite mediocre coaching. Games can be won due to an elite player and team development, but more often, games, particularly championship games, are lost by poor player development and team preparation.
When a game is done, I have always asked myself two questions:
- Could we have defeated our best competition today, e.g., the #1 ranked team in the league, state, or country?
- Did we go about our business in preparation, hustle, effort, perseverance, and sportsmanship and inspire those who watched us, e.g., the other team, the officials, and the fans of both teams, to be better in their lives? If so, we ‘won.’ If not, we did not.
Good coaches recognize that to develop the best teams and players, they must first train the team members to be great athletes. And before they can train their team members to be great athletes, they must connect with, understand, validate, and mentor the team members as persons.
Better People = Better Athletes = Better Players/Teammates
The best coaches proactively design their daily practice and training plans to teach life lessons within the game far beyond the competition. They do not simply let the game’s adversity imply those lessons. They use quotes, acronyms, role plays, and guest speakers to teach the team how they are learning and experience relate to their lives as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, students, employees, and community and business leaders.
The mentorship of the person, at every level, youth, high school, college, and professional, is the foundation for everything!
Why is this so? First, if a coach stays in coaching long enough and has gone about coaching the right way, the communications of appreciation from their players in the future will not be about the wins and the championships; they will be about how the coach made the player a better person.