May 2017

What Makes a Great Coach

by George Maoury


A few weeks ago I was asked, “What makes a great coach”?  Well, there are many components that make up a great coach, and you could write a book on this topic. In fact, there are many books out there to help you become a better coach. In this post, I would like to discuss one component that I feel gets overlooked far too many times. It is a component that only you (the coach) really know if you are doing this or not.  That is are we putting our needs, and wants before the needs and wants of the athletes who we are working with? Basically what I am referring to is EGO. Although this article can relate to probably every coach, this is meant more for the coach who works with our youth (6-18).

EGO MISTAKE #1…….. Winning at all cost

I have seen many coaches play their star player, even though they are dealing with an injury. What we are doing here is not thinking about what kind of damage that this is doing to this young athlete in the future, instead we are only thinking about winning, so we can show to the world how great of a coach we are. Yes, we hear stories about great professional athletes playing in big games while hurt, but remember these are professionals, and they are getting paid a lot of money to perform.  Many young athletes careers have ended sooner than they should because of an over egoistical coach they had while they were young.

Not sidelining an athlete who has broken team, or school policy, just because we need this player to give us a chance to win. Once again we are thinking about our own needs, and not teaching these young athletes about being held accountable for their actions. By letting this player play we are sending a message to the players that if you are great the rules don’t apply.  This is a big complaint that college coaches are saying about the young players of today.

Only playing your best players so you can win and look like the best coach out there. This is especially geared towards the coach who works with 6-14 year olds. This is the time where we should be teaching and developing these young athletes. Not just playing your best players in order to win, or giving them more attention in practice. If we as coaches are really there for the kids, then we should be more focus on working with everyone and not just the more talented players.  Winning with a team of kids who are more talented than a team of not so talented kids doesn’t make you a great coach. Taking a group of not so talented kids, and making them better……….now that’s coaching.

EGO MISTAKE#2…….. Exploiting kids on social media

So many coaches are using social media platforms as a way to feed their egos. “Check out my client who just committed to _____ University”.    Or “Check out Johnny benching 225lbs when he came to me he could only do 180”, (what’s so bad is that the form was awful).  To take the focus off of them and make it look like they are doing this for their client they throw in “I’m so proud of the work they have done”.  Now after saying this, I have to admit this is something that I use to do, and I hope I won’t do it again in the future, but probably will. Seriously, let’s really look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves are we doing this for the child, or are we doing this to feed our egos?

What I have noticed is that the really great coaches, will post videos with valuable information on what is being taught during the session, and then maybe give props to the athlete who is doing it.  Most (notice how I said MOST not all) of the coaches who just post videos of their athletes or group of athletes performing certain drills, or lifts  will usually exhibit  poor athletic movements and inproficient  lifting technique in the video.   Social Media has become a great way for marketing, but why not let the kids do the posting. I am working with a high school freshman, who is doing things in the weight room that most juniors and seniors cannot do. I have never posted anything that he has done, but his mom will film a few exercises, and he will post it on his Instagram.  Lots of times I allow parents to film their children, and they are the ones who do the marketing for me, by posting what their child is doing.

EGO MISTAKE#3……..not asking for help

I can remember sitting in a coach’s clinic, and listening to a very famous strength and conditioning coach talk. He asked “What are the 4 worst words a coach can say?” his answer was “I already Know this”.  When we start thinking that we already know it all, we will never achieve greatness. I have been coaching for over 20 years, and I am still seeking out ways to gain more knowledge. I have been very blessed to have met some of the best youth performance coaches in the world.  I always read what they write, or will go to seminars where they are presenting.  It is not uncommon for me to reach out to them if I have a question about a certain drill, or technical question about a way a lift should be executed. There is no shame in asking for help. It shows you care and you want to get better.

I’m constantly hearing coaches demanding a lot from their young athletes on things they should be doing to get better, but I ask what is the coach doing to get better. We want our kids to go the extra mile to get better so it makes us look good, but we should be the one going the extra mile to make them look good.

In conclusion, our main job as youth coaches and trainers is to develop and install proper athletic skills, focus on Long Term Athletic Development, and take a very important role in developing a complete human being. It shouldn’t be to use, abuse, and wear down these kids in order to make our wallets fatter, our winning record better, and our egos bigger.  Coaches are put under so much pressure to win, that lots of times we neglect spending enough time teaching and developing.  When dealing with younger athletes (ages 6-14) it is especially crucial to focus on teaching and developing.  In the long run your hard work and time will pay off.  Trust me, there is no greater feeling then getting a phone call from one of your athlete’s parents thanking you for what you have done for their child, and that their child gives you all the credit for making them better. Humbly, I just let them know that their child was the one who did all of the work, and I just guided them in the right direction. As I stated in the beginning of this post there are many components that make a great coach, and if we can all just realize that it isn’t about US, but about the young athletes in front of us, then that is a start in becoming a great coach.  Remember, these young athletes look up to us, let’s make sure we give them something great to look up to. Now go out and the serve the youth the best way possible!!!!!!

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