We at FUNdamental SOCCER have been intrigued and have been looking for articles that can help the youth coach become better. In the past we have published articles on sportsmanship, teamwork, lesson plans, scheduling, etc. And we have used such diverse resources as International Soccer Magazines, Soccer newspapers, Soccer Journals, etc. We had never imagined that a pertinent article for youth coaches could be found in the Business Section of a Daily newspaper. We hope that the following article, by Harvey McKay, gives you and opportunity to 'think' about areas in which you can improve your character and approach to your coaching youth players:
A look at our three major sports in 2003 illustrates my point. Jack McKeon came out of retirement at age 72 to lead the Florida Marlins to victory in the World Series. He is the oldest manager ever to win the World Series.
When McKeon took control of the Marlins on May 11, they were 16-22 and going nowhere. They were knows for their dissension, their disorganized play, their youthful mistake and their emotional turmoil. Five months later they were the talk of baseball. They personified smooth teamwork, savvy play, team cohesion and youthful exuberance.
McKeon won Manager of the Year in the National League. He took his good fortune in stride and gave the credit to his players. He said he loved their enthusiasm for the game and noted that it matched his own.
The players said that he was easy and fun to work for and that he taught them a lot.
In Minnesota at St. John's University. John Gagliardi, became the winningest coach in the history of college football at the age of 77. Wonder what his management style is like? For starter, he instructs his players to cal him "John" instead of the more authoritarian "coach." He has no captain or co-captains on the team.
All seniors are captains, including substitutes.
His team has no separate dorms, no training table, no special diet and no mandatory weight program. He allows no newspaper clippings posted in the locker room, no trash talk and no sports drink dunkings, or other types of excessive celebrations.
There is no playbook.
The Johnnies have no long practices and no spring practices. And they don't practice in extreme weather. After the season starts, they have no contact during practice so no player gets injured and misses a game or, worse, a season.
In early November, the Johnnies beat Bethel College for Gagliardi's 409th career victory, breaking the record of the great Eddie Robinson of Grambling State University. After the game, a reporter asked the genial coach how he'd done it. He said, "With luck, talent and prayer." His players use words like "fun", "easy", "enjoyable", "great" and "satisfying" when asked what it's like to play for him.
NBA legend Jerry West is now the general manager of the previously troubled Memphis Grizzlies. He persuaded Hubie Brown to come out of retirement at age 69 and try to turn this young and talented team around.
Coach Brown is doing just that. He admits that in his earlier years in coaching he was overly intense, too emotional and excessively demonstrative. Now he is much more relaxed and composed in his approach to coaching. His previously ineffective players are saying about him the same kinds of things McKeon's and Gagliardi's players had to say about them.
I could go on and on with older coaches who have been equally successful. Look at Dick Vermeil, age 67, and the spectacular job he's done this year with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Mature coaches tend to:
That you get more honey than with vinegar is as true in coaching as in all other phases of life. Older coaches know this in their bones. It's no surprise that teams in all major sport are now searching for older, wiser, steadier and more experienced coaches.
- Possess superior people skills.
- Instill more confidence in their players.
- Instruct and teach with patience.
- Take the long view, minimizing setbacks and maximizing triumphs.
- Demonstrate emotional stability in themselves and defuse and dispel emotional turmoil in others.
- Encourage, rather than compete with, players and subordinates.
- Draw from a deeper well of experience.
- Praise rather than criticize.
- Deflect personal credit and kudos back onto the players.
- Disdain territorial disputes and avoid petty issues.
- Know themselves thoroughly and feel secure in their person and position.
- Personify focus, project vision and propel with humor.
Harvey MaKay can be reached at Harvey@Mackay.com or his
Web site http://www.mackay.com