Author Archive: Ida Allen

What Makes a Great Coach?

Before we start discussing what skills and qualities a good coach needs to have, we first need to understand how difficult a coaching profession truly is. Coaching is considered a frustrating, thankless, ‘no win’ kind of occupation. It’s a job that is usually performed in a public fishbowl. If you are a coach, you are constantly in a visible position that continuously exposes you the evaluation and scrutiny of the public. It’s a profession that allows the general public to weigh in on your job whether you want their opinions or not. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the qualities that make a good coach and how you can improve on your current coaching skills going forward.

Athletes Need To Believe In Themselves

Good coaches always inspire their athletes to believe that they can do more that they could possibly imagine. Even good teachers do this for each of their students. They managed to get their students to believe in possibilities that stretch the limits of what they believe in. To inspire athletes, you essentially need to build them up as oppose to breaking them down. Good coaches build on self-esteem instead of undermining their athletes.

Avoid Using Humiliation and Embarrassment as Teaching Tools

Really effective coaches don’t humiliate or embarrass their athletes as they fully understand that humiliating and embarrassing an athlete for a short-coming, failure, or mistake is an aggressive assault on them that doesn’t enhance their performance or build on their mental toughness. There’s nothing constructive or educational about it. All it actually does it tear down the athlete and undermines their self-esteem which will eventually create performance issues.

A Great Coach = A Great Life Teacher

Good coaches are fully aware that their teaching goes far beyond the simple X’s and O’s. A good coach doesn’t just teach the strategy, technique, and skills that encompasses a specific sport. They also provide important life lessons such as integrity, honesty, fair play, good sportsmanship, emotionally dealing with losing and winning, sacrificing individual desires to benefit the team, trusting teammates, rebounding and handling setbacks and failures, and mastering hardship.

Don’t Let Self-Worth and Egos Get Tied Up In The Outcome

Good coaches don’t feel diminished when their team fails in a match, and they don’t get overexcited and feel good about themselves when a team succeeds either. A good coach fully understands that coaching is only one factor of many and therefore don’t allow their professions to define them as a person. Coaches that are in serious trouble with athletes are usually more vulnerable emotionally and often feel threatened by failure or a loss.

Understand Differences Between Individual Athletes

A good coach is always aware that each individual in their team is different in sensitivity, response-ability, personality, attitude, and how they handle adversity and criticism. A good coach takes the necessary time to understand each athlete on a personal level. They then use this information to hand-tailor each individual to get the maximum performance out of them.

Best NHL Coaches of All Time

A good coach has the ability to transform a mediocre team into a potential playoff team, while a great coach has the ability to transform a playoff team into a contender for the Stanley Cup. Coaches are essentially responsible for more than just calling for changes and settling lines. They plan and run practices, develop young talent, put several systems in place, and deal with the quirks and personalities of today’s NHL players.

There’s basically only one thing that matters most in the NHL, and that’s winning. To have a long-lasting career and be successful, a coach is required to win. It’s for this reason that we decided to take an in-depth look at the best NHL coaches of all time and what made them so phenomenal during their NHL coaching careers.

Scotty Bowman

The coaching career of Scott Bowman started with the St. Louis Blues in 1967 and ended with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. During the 30 seasons as head coach, Scott was behind the bench for a total of 2,141 games during the regular season where he managed to win 1,244, the most wins by any coach in NHL history. He claimed 9 Stanley Cups which included four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1976 to 1979 with the Canadians. He also claimed the Jack Adams Award on two occasions and was included in the Hall of Fame as a builder in 1991.

Al Arbour

After spending three seasons with the St. Louis Blues as a coach, Arbour decided to leave the team and become New York Islanders head coach where he accumulated 19 seasons of coaching. He managed to lead the team to 4 successive Stanley Cups, ranging from 1979 through to 1983, missing 5 in a row against the Edmonton Oilers. During 2007, Arbour made a return to coach his 1,500th match at the age of 75.

Joel Quenneville

Quenneville started his coaching career with the St. Louis Blues, leading the team to the playoffs each year until the last season where he was fired when they couldn’t make it through to the playoffs. After a couple of seasons coaching the Colorado Avalanche, he was hired to coach the Chicago Black Hawks. However, after four games he was promoted to head coach. Since then, the Black Hawks have made it through to the playoffs and managed to win 3 Stanley Cups. Quenneville has managed to coach 1,375 matches and won 754.

Dick Irvin

Irvin enjoyed a long-lasting career as an NHL coach, enjoying 37 seasons from 1929 through to 1956 where he coached the Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Chicago Black Hawks. In fact, Irwin only managed to miss the playoffs a total of 3 times during his coaching career. He managed to win the Stanley Cup 4 times, 3 times with the Habs and once with the Leafs. He coached a total of 1.449 matches and managed to win 692 of them. Irvin was also included in the Hall of Fame as a player in 1958.

Best Managers in MLB History

There has been plenty of top-rated managers when it comes to Major League Baseball over the years. Some had fantastic players, while others didn’t. Some never managed to win a World Series, while others didn’t even have a winning record. However, the overall statistics never lie and its for this reason that we decided to list the best managers of the MLB of all time.

John McGraw

Known as “Mugsy” and “Little Napoleon”, McGraw was manager for both the Baltimore Orioles (1899 – 1902) and the New York Giants (1902 – 1932). He was initially a .334 career hitter stretching over a 16-year period before he decided to become a manager in 1899, transforming him into one of the best managers of all time in baseball. His teams managed to finish 815 games with a .500 record, which is the most ever. Small-ball was his style which was ideal for the dead-ball era in baseball. He favoured the sacrifice and hit-and-run bunt and usually got the most from older baseball players that other teams simply gave up on. John McGraw was a manager for 33 seasons and has a total of 3 championships along with 10 pennants.

Joe McCarthy

Joe McCarthy certainly has the numbers. In fact, his winning percentage is considered the best of all time with over 300 games. He managed to win 792 matches more than he lost. He is also the Yankees’ leader in victories with a total of 1,460. He is regarded as a low-key leader and is widely labelled as a push-button manager. He was the manager for the Cubs (1926 – 1930), the Yankees (1931 – 1946), and the Red Sox (1948 – 1950). Joe McCarthy was a manager for 24 seasons and has a total of 7 championships along with 9 pennants.

Connie Mack

No manager in the world of baseball will ever get close to Connie Mack in terms of longevity. He clutches the record for losses, wins, and games managed, winning nearly 1,000 more matches than any other baseball manager in the history of the sport. He was also the first to claim three World Series victories and was also a part-owner of the A’s. Mack managed the Pittsburgh Pirates (1894 – 1986) and the Philadelphia Athletics (1901 – 1950). He was a manager for a whopping 53 seasons and has a total of 5 championships along with 9 pennants.

Casey Stengel

Known world wide as “The Old Professor”, Stengel’s record was seriously hurt during his manager role for the New York Mets during the 1960’s. He is the only baseball manager to win 5 consecutive championships from 1949 to 1953 and also won it again in both 1956 and in 1958. While he was manager of the New York Yankees, led by Whitney Ford, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle, the team won 10 pennants in only 12 years. He was a huge believer in the platoon system when it came to left-handed and right-handed pitchers. He also had a humours way of speaking which became quite renowned in baseball.

Best NBA Coaches of all Time

Over 300 qualified men have attempted to be head coaches in the National Basketball League. Surprisingly, most of them didn’t last very long. In a league that devours coaches like Elizabeth Taylor goes through husbands, only a handful of them have managed to enjoy successful careers that span for more than ten years. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best NBA coaches of all time as we look at winning percentages, wins, impact on the game, and championships.

Lenny Wilkens – 53.6%, 1,332 – 1,155

It’s rather easy to dismiss Wilkens’ NBA record when it comes to coaching wins as he was surpassed by none other than Don Nelson, but that’s only due to longevity. Lenny Wilkens only had one title to show for a total of 32 seasons while coaching six different teams and had a total of 11 losing seasons which is 11 more than the famous Phil Jackson. It was Wilken’s unflappable and calm demeanour that allowed him to be such an extraordinary coach over the long term.

Don Nelson – 55.7%, 1,335 – 1,063

The new owners of the Golden State Warriors pushed Nelson out the door which is actually no surprise as the head coach is now 70 years old. Don Nelson never claimed a title during 31 seasons. However, he didn’t coach players like Bill Russel either. He did manage to do a sensational job with small line ups, including Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond, and Tim Hardaway in Golden State. He was also the inventor of the ‘point forward’ concept which most teams utilise to this day.

Jerry Sloan – 60.3%, 1,221 – 803

Sloan managed to stay with Salt Lake City for longer than most owners in the NBA. He continued coaching the team for more than 22 years and only had one losing season where he never changed his no-nonsense, hard-edged style. His teams were always hard players and never avoided his coaching styles throughout the game.

Chuck Daly – 59.3%, 638 – 437

During his first debut as head coach, Daly managed to go 9-32 while coaching the Cavaliers which caused him to get fired halfway through the 1981/82 NBA season. Although he had a horrible start, he was placed in charge of the Pistons two years thereafter and never had a losing season in a total of 13 seasons while coaching in Orlando, New Jersey, and Detroit. He managed to win titles in 1989 and 1990 for the Pistons as helped the Dream Team of 1992 to avoid any unnecessary ego problems.

Larry Brown – 54.8%, 1,098 – 904

Although he is considered one of the biggest winners when it comes to basketball, with almost 1,500 victories as a head coach for both the NBA and ABA, Larry Brown looks permanently displeased. He always complains, frets, and frowns and no one can understand why. Well, he is undoubtedly a perfectionist. He is considered the greatest team builder and teacher and is the only coach to claim NBA and NCAA titles with the Kansas Jayhawks in 1988 and the Detroit Pistons in 2004.

Swimming Benefits For All Athletes

Aquatic sports are mostly categorised according to both its physiological demands on an athlete as well as the training methods required. Swimming places athletes in an environment where their body awareness is greatly affected. Coordination on land and coordination in water require completely different skills, which is why not everyone understands how swimming could benefit athletes such as soccer players, baseball players or even football players.

Swimming Benefits to Land-Based Athletes

The four main areas where swimming is the best possible training for athletes participating in land-based sports include the establishing of a cardiovascular baseline, prevention or rehabilitation of injury, developing lung capacity and generating full body movements as well as strength.

Injury Rehabilitation and Prevention

Swim training offers athletes the best option in supplementing their existing training. The primary driver is the injury free addition of low-impact cardiovascular exercise. The added buoyancy in the water equip athletes with exercise options in which both the muscle and joints are protected, while it is also a great way to start a program after recovering from injury. Many athletes that have to cope with chronic injuries prefers to add intensity to their exercise routine via water exercise, and swimming is about the only form of exercise that can help injured athletes during their recovery.

Cardiovascular Baseline Establishing

There is a major emphasis on the importance of stabling a robust cardiovascular baseline during the preseason phase or almost all sports, achievable via generalised fitness training. This is when most professional athletes prefer to incorporate their land-based training programs with swimming workouts since sport-specific exercises are much less, of a priority and the main focus is on getting back into great shape. Incredible cardiovascular endurance is demanded by swimming while other cardio-based sports such as cycling, and running do create joint stress and mostly focus on the lower body. Swimming targets the entire body places no stress on any of the muscles.

Swimming Vital for Increasing Lung Capacity

Cardiovascular fitness is increased via lung capacity and the one way for athletes to achieve this is swimming. Swim training assists athletes in holding their breath for longer as well as getting used to breathing control. Once athletes achieve high-intensity exercising via limited air, their lung capacity increased and so does their performance on land. This can be measured via heart rate, and at the end of a swim set, by taking the pulse rate, athletes can also check how quickly they can get their heart rate back to normal.

Generalising Full-Body Movements and Strength

Some athletes think of swimming as a cardio-based workout only, although it actually places a high value on the strength of the entire body. Each of the strokes is achieved via a range of motion focussed around the shoulder joints, the torso and even the hips, which also makes it the perfect workout option for golf players or any sport that including either a throwing or rotation motion. At the same time, swimming is an exercise that demands core stability and non-swimmers often find it quite difficult to maintain good upper and lower body strength.

Greatest NFL Coaches of All Time

There’s no denying that Bill Belichick is the best head coach of this era when it comes to the NFL, but where exactly does he rank when it comes to the greatest NFL coaches of all time? An NFL coach cannot be defined by only looking at their titles. You need to consider every aspect of their career, including full body of work, individual seasons, overall performance, and contribution towards the game. With that in mind, let’s look at the greatest NFL coaches of all time.

1. Vince Lombardi

Lombardi managed to win a total of 5 championships (2 Super Bowls and 3 NFL titles) with the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967. He could have had the same success with the Washington Redskins if his career wasn’t cut short due to colon cancer.

2. Bill Belichick

Whether you hate him or love him, Belichick’s New England Patriots have certainly been a dominating force in the National Football League. Should he be able to claim a sixth Super Bowl title or achieve 20 winning seasons, Belichick will take the number 1 spot on our list.

3. Don Shula

Shula initially coached the Baltimore Colts from 1963 to 1969 before coaching Miami from 1970 to 1975. He managed to claim 16 division titles and had 6 Super Bowl appearances where he claimed 2 Super Bowl titles. He is also on the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 1997.

4. Bill Walsh

Walsh coached San Francisco from 1979 to 1988 and managed to claim 6 division titles along with 3 Super Bowl titles. He also invented a revolutionary offense and is on the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 1993.

5. Paul Brown

Brown is considered one of the best innovators and was the first coach to manage two football franchises, including the Bengals and the Browns, winning with both teams. His ten consecutive title game appearances with the Browns is a record that will never be broken.

6. Joe Gibbs

Gibbs coached the Washington Redskins from 1981 to 1992 and again from 2004 to 2007. During his career, he managed to claim 5 division titles and had 4 Super Bowl appearances where he managed to claim 3 Super Bowl titles with three different quarterbacks.

7. George Halas

Professional football certainly won’t be where it is today without the legendary ‘Papa Bear”, coaching the Monsters of the Midway for a total of 40 seasons and racking up a total of 324 victories along with 6 NFL titles.

8. Tom Landry

Landry coached the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1978 and claimed 13 division titles along with 5 Super Bowl appearances with 2 Super Bowl titles. His record of 20 consecutive winning seasons is one that will definitely stand forever.

9. Chuck Noll

Noll coached the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1969 to 1991. He claimed 9 division titles and 4 Super Bowl titles. The Steelers never won an NFL championship since it was formed in 1933 until Noll arrived on the scene.

Coaching Sports Skills

Every sports commentator, athlete, coach and fan know that skill is the fundamental element of any sports. When it comes to football it is passing and kicking the ball, in baseball and cricket it is throwing, in swimming and fishing, it is turning and diving, in rugby it is passing and tackling, and in netball and basketball it is shooting and passing.

The foundations of sports coaching are practising, learning, and the mastering of basic skills, although mastering the basics is only the first step. Athletes never fail due to a poor skill level. They fail because their ability to perform that skill is poor and that is due to poor coaching.

Sports Skill

The definition of a sports skill is that it is the ability to perform any sporting skill consistently well under fatigue, at speed, and pressure condition in a competitive environment. Perfection is to find a coach, learn how to and then to practice till you perfect it, what every athlete want is to learn the basics, perfect that and then to master the sports skill so that they can enhance their personal performance no matter the conditions. In mastering a sport, practice is no longer all it takes, it is learning the sports skill, and this is where a great coach can do wonders. Once the athlete can perform the skill well at speed, technical perfection comes with adding under pressure and under fatigue to the equation.

Coaching to Perfection

Coaching is even more needed when the athlete manages to perform the skill perfectly well during speed, under pressure and under fatigue as this is when it is necessary to record how many times the ball was dropped, the number of errors made at critical moments, how many times the ball was missed. This is also where mental pressure and emotional stress have a huge impact, and the coach working through the process with the athlete can make all the difference.

Champions Enjoyed Real Coaching

The next step is to check that the athlete can perform the skill perfectly under fatigue, at speed, and under pressure, this time consistently is added to the list. Being able to achieve perfection under all the mentioned conditions could be luck but being able to perform it consistently is the sign that a real champion is in the making. It is what many refer to as the no-compromise training approach. It is training the brain that poor skill, sloppiness and inaccuracy is not accepted. As the next step in training is adding competition conditions to all the other areas of perfection. It is entering the athlete level where competitors have already mastered the skill, the level of competing against champions, where the slightest misjudgement or losing of focus could cost you the game. It’s a level only available to sports superstars that enjoyed the luxury of being trained by a real sports coach.

Coaching and Motivation – Mental Misunderstood Matter

Motivation is something some coaches talk about, others read up about it, some try to master it and learn all its secrets, motivation is what everyone believes is what get athletes to achieve what is otherwise impossible. This search to find motivational success gets some to spend large amounts of cash on motivational speakers with their goal being to motivate their team of athletes. There are also several coursed to attend, workshops are available and all claim to teach the skill needed to master the mysteries of motivation.

Understanding the Concept of Motivation

No matter the amount you spend, the more desperate you are to master motivation the less you’ll be able to understand it. First of all, you need to know what motivation is, it is a desire, basically, a fire that ignites outstanding victories fuels great performances, and drive persistence and perseverance. Motivation is what gives athletes a winning attitude, it’s the basic of mental-toughness, the character and strength that empowers athletes to overcome setbacks, injuries and disappointments, the cornerstone of success.

The Magic Pill/Miracle

Coaches often think of motivation as a miracle or a pill, a technique or breakthrough, yet it is so much simpler and so much more powerful.
Motivation starts with you the coach, it is fuelled by your desire to be a better coach, to be someone your athletes can trust, relate to and want to win for.

Difference between Inspiration and Motivation

Motivational speakers talking about success, glory and money is what most people think off as motivation, although it is actually an inspiration. Motivation and inspiration work hand in hand together to inspire people to change their behaviours in order to realise a dream. Inspiration comes to the outside from the speaker to another person while motivation comes from within, it is ignited by passion.

Sports Coaching Motivation

In order to motivate the team, a sports coach need to provide opportunity and create an environment for athletes to express their true motivation in everything they do. The coach is there to support, encourage and to help athletes to discover their passion. Athletes that are motivated stand out, they attend every practice, arrive early and are eager to help set up the equipment. They always willing to help clean up afterwards and if coaches allow it, motivation will express itself.

Motivation does not come from providing high enthusiasm, or high energy or always talking about psyching-up, it is providing an environment where athletes feel free to show how motivated they are. It is feeling safe in an environment where the coach understands the wishes of each athlete, the will to achieve, the disappointment when it takes a bit longer and knowing they have the space to enjoy their strengths and work on their weaknesses. An environment where no one is ever judged, only the doorway to bigger things achieved via practising and the identification of areas that needs the most attention.

Developing Mentally Strong Athletes

Being labelled as mentally tough is the highest compliment any athlete can receive, mental toughness is not a quality that individuals are born with it, it is an attitude that must be learned or adapted, a positive mindset that changes perspective and increases production. The most influential or ideal people to help and teach young athletes to develop this special talent, philosophy or ability are parents and coaches. It is a balance between ability, tolerating setbacks and staying mentally strong. Most coaches call it a priceless gift that influences the athlete’s whole life and not just his attitude towards his sports career.

Sports are Fun

There are a few specific outlooks or attitudes that should be communicated to younger athletes; the first and most important of those is that sports are fun. Whether a match results in a win or a loss the match itself remains a fun activity enjoyed with the rest of the team. Every teammate or athlete should enjoy every second of participation and the most important thing to imprint in young athletes’ mindsets is that winning is not a measure of enjoyment.

That Worth Achieving Rarely Comes Easy

The process of achieving mastery is challenging, long and often requires commitment, hours of practice and exercise, as well as a positive “, can do” attitude. The coach famed for leading the Green Bay Packers to victory, Vince Lombardi, often refers to the saying that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. The price of success is hard work. To master any sport requires practice, more practice and them some practice.

Mistakes Are a Vital Part of Mastering any Sport

Whether in life or sport, mistakes are a vital part of learning, without them we won’t learn as fast or a much, legendary UCLA coach, John Wooden sees mistakes as the stepping stones to success and achievement. It is important that coaches emphasise to athletes that making mistakes is better than avoiding the opportunity to shine, they are performance enhancements and shows where improvement and adjustment are needed. There is only one mistake in sports and life, and that is the failure to learn from our experiences.

What Really Counts is Effort

Highly successful coaching includes praise and emphasis on both efforts and the outcome, repeatedly communicating to athletes that their efforts are as important as the outcome is vitally important in motivating teams. Youngsters react on both their coaches’ words and actions, and therefore all efforts should be acknowledged in the same important light as winning results are.

Worth Should Never Be Confused with Performance

Young athletes should be sure of the fact that their performance in sport or their academic performances is not what identify their worth. Coaches play an important role as they should show athletes that they accept all unconditionally no matter the result, the effort and being part of the team is always acknowledged. By showing young athletes that even the coach has failures and mistakes, which he/she gracefully accepts, teach young children that everyone is fallible humans and that we move past mistakes to reach new heights via the lessons we learned from it.

Fun & Engaging Coaching Sessions are an Artform

Coaching made fun is what everyone wants it to be, yet it is a bit harder than most think. You need to provide an environment in which players want to be, but at the same time you need to train them to do their best and to achieve all this requires a few pointers, so here is what the experts say.

Enjoyable Sport Coaching

It all starts by asking a few questions, during training you need to answer whether you think it is fun and if the players enjoy the session. You also need to answer the question that should you have been part of the session would you enjoy it, basically the coach needs to step into the shoes of the trainees. If the answer on any one of the above questions is negative, the next question would be how to change it. By coaching younger children, it is much easier to bring an element of fun into the training session, where it could be a bit more challenging when the team is older. Yet the fun element is almost naturally part when the group are familiar with each other and comfortable in the company of the entire team.

Team Challenges

Primary school aged sports coaching is ideal for bringing in little friendly challenges, this is to get the initiative going on how to succeed in every session, it helps develop the physical skills of the team. Many coaches use this technique to identify natural leaders who thrive when it comes to both the psychological and decision-making aspects of the sport. Coaching includes identifying what type of player each of the participants is and then to place them in an environment where they feel slightly challenged, just enough to keep them interested in the sport but at the same time to make them feel needed and comfortable.

Let it Flow During Practise

It is always best not to overdue structured training, by staying away from drills it could be a lot easier to implement a natural flow. Before practice starts in full swing allow players to have some free time interacting with each other and the ball. It is also a great time to have a quick joke or two going as it sets the tone for the remainder of the training session. Discuss something of interest and make sure everyone is comfy before the session starts in all seriousness, and at the end discuss the session and get their opinion.

Team Interaction is Most Important

More vital than any planning of the training is to provide players with a session that is engaging and that increase interaction amongst the team and you. It is vital that the coach get to know each of the players individually and the more the team interact, the better they will know each other. Everyone should know mistakes will happen, they good as it gives you and the team reason to brainstorm together about you will eliminate these from happening during matches.