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Sports Coaching as a Career Path

A sports coach essentially organises professional and amateur athletes while teaching them the fundamentals of a specific sport. They also need to train them to compete individually or as a team. You will also find coaches that are required to recruit new players for professional and college teams.

Quick Facts about Sports Coaches

•    In 2015, the annual earnings for a sports coach were around $31,000.

•    Combined with athletic scouts, sports coaches held around 251,000 jobs during 2014.

•    Most sports coaches worked at educational institutions, such as colleges and high schools, while others worked for community organisations.

•    Sports coaches have a fantastic job outlook as employment will grow just as fast as average occupations through to 2024.

Job Duties

There are typical job duties that sports coaches need to excel in to become a successful coach for an athlete or team, including:

•    Problem solving

•    Assistance in recruiting and scouting activities

•    Instruct and teach all aspects of the sport

•    Foster great character and promote sportsmanship in student athletes

•    Supervise students in locker rooms and practice areas

•    Establish rapport and encourage athlete participation

•    Maintain uniforms and equipment

Educational Requirements

Coaches in high schools or colleges are usually teachers which means they are required to meet all qualifications for their occupation. This means they will need a bachelor’s degree at the very least. Degrees that specifically relate to coaching will often include sports medicine, physical education, fitness and nutrition, kinesiology, physiology, sports science, and exercise.

Most employers will usually expect that the coach they hire to have experience in the sport they wish to coach. Those that worked in public schools, such as high schools, must be certified. This usually requires training in first aid and CPR as well as coaching fundamentals and sports safety.

How to Advance As a Sports Coach

It’s highly likely that you will start your coaching career as an assistant coach. Once you gained the necessary experience and knowledge, you will have a greater chance of becoming a head coach. If you are interested in competing at the highest level of a sport in school, you will be required to have substantial experience as an assistant or head coach from a smaller school. However, if you are interested in coaching a professional sport, you will need years of experience along with a winning record to get anywhere.

What Employers Will Expect From You

Apart from gaining the necessary experience and skills to become a coach, most employers will also look for other qualities before they will hire you. These qualities include:

•    Attention to accuracy and detail as well as demonstrating an organisational ability

•    Must be able to give precise and clear directions

•    Must have good judgment and safety awareness

•    Positive, fun, and enthusiastic attitude

•    Must have knowledge of diverse populations and cultures

•    You will be required to immerse yourself in a specific sport and ensure that you are up-to-date with the latest techniques and training methods to excel

•    A background check is always required

Unscientific Methods Used by Coaches in Sport

Sports coaches are constantly under pressure to improve the performance of their teams and athletes. With good intentions, they usually turn to the most recently hyped psychological ideas and techniques – many of which are rarely supported by scientific evidence. The techniques provided below are widely utilised by sports coaches. However, none of them are backed up by scientific evidence.

Learning Styles

Some people learn by watching a technique or skill, known as visual learning. Some people learn by listening to a description of a certain skill, known as auditory learning, and some people learn by practising the skill or movement, known as kinaesthetic learning. This is a belief that is widely promoted by governing bodies in sport, and most coaches believe that athletes and teams have their own unique learning style. However, there’s no evidence that learning will improve by kinaesthetic, auditory, or visual coaching styles.

Neuro-linguistic Programming

Practitioners of neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP, claims that eye movements can reveal thoughts. For instance, when an athlete looks up to the right or left, they will try and visualise something. However, when an athlete is looking down to the right, they think about feelings. Sports coaches that use this information to identify what a person is thinking about and then assist them to change their thoughts.

Brain Gym

This essentially includes a series of simplistic movements, including touching your right heel with your left hand and then your left heel with your right hand, or placing an index finger and thumb on either side of the chest bone while your other hand will rub your stomach. The primary objective of these simplistic movements is to make more efficient movements and to improve overall coordination. It also helps to increase focus, concentration, and motivation.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

There are plenty of sports organisations that utilise Myers-Briggs which is basically a questionnaire which assesses the type of personality of an athlete to assist them in deciding whether or not to recruit them to the programme or team. The questionnaire also assists coaches to help them understand how a player makes decisions and behaves in order to communicate more effectively. Although this method is extremely popular, there are those that have concerns about it. For instance, most believe that it classifies athletes into a broad category, including extrovert and introvert. However, this approach is regarded as far too simplistic and doesn’t completely capture the complexity of one’s personality.

Action Types

This is basically a combination of practices to boost an athlete’s brain, learning styles, and movement styles that are very similar to that of Brain Gym. Coaches state that it assists them in understanding their team or athletes better and allows athletes to understand their bodies much better. However, since information regarding this approach is extremely hard to come by, we can conclude that this method is not credible among coaches. Sports coaches should rely on evidence-based techniques to improve the performance of their teams and athletes.

Coaching Techniques for Assisting Injured Athletes

Injury is quite common when it comes to sports participation. You can ask any athlete who will tell you that injuries are one of the primary setbacks they experience when playing sports. There are several issues that athletes will face apart from physical pain when a sports injury occurs. Suffering from an injury can stop their training which usually has a negative effect on how they view themselves.

Furthermore, it can remove the positive effect that athletes gain from sports, including sense of control, mastery, and autonomy. Injuries can also be considered a setback for those that use sport as a way to deal with stress. In addition, emotional reactions will differ greatly among athletes when it comes to an injury. Things like fatigue, lack of motivation, tension, anxiety, anger, and fear are common occurrences. Thankfully, there are several coaching techniques which can assist athletes to bounce back from an injury.

Be Empathic

Ensure that your athletes are aware that you know what they are going through and that you understand. Don’t expect them to simply suck it up or shake it off. Give your athletes time to deal with their feelings. Your genuine care and empathy will go a long way to strengthen the athlete-coach relationship.

Provide An Important Role In The Team

You can assist injured athletes to overcome their sense of worthlessness by providing a different job within the team until they are healed. Jobs like consultant or assistant coach will work well. Ask for their input or opinion during competitions or practice. Making them feel important will play a vital role on their feelings.

Avoid Your Athlete From Becoming Isolated in the Team

Ensure that your injured athlete continues to be an important factor in your team. You will need to assign team members to monitor athletes that are injured and ensure that they intervene when the athlete starts isolating themselves from the team. Actively reach out to the injured athlete which will have a powerful impact of positivity on their feelings.

Self-Esteem is Key

You will need to be mindful that the athlete who is injured is feeling rather vulnerable after enduring a massive blow to their self-worth and feelings. Ensure that the injured athlete is well-aware that you still value them as a person through words and actions. Never act disinterested and always remember that it’s your responsibility to reach out to the injured athlete.

Take Small Steps To Get The Athlete Back in Practice

Whether its mental techniques or limited physical training, ensure your injured athlete is well aware that you expect them to continue their training sessions. You can give them special sessions to fit their injury limitations and make sure you check up on them regularly to see how they are progressing.

Should your injured athlete be depressed, its vital that you utilise professional counselling, especially if it lingers on after trying to assist them by yourself.

Books All Coaches Need to Read

Coaches have a wide variety of styles and beliefs on what they want to educate their players with when it comes to coaching philosophy. The benefit that comes for this is that great coaches manage to write books in order to share their coaching philosophies with the world. Although the philosophy and style of each coach vary greatly, they all share one common trait: They read books to become better coaches. The best coaches in the world are essentially students of the game and they always do research to become greater. Below, we included a list of books that will help you become a better leader, better person, and a better coach for your players.

The Cubs Way

There’s no better way to learn how to create a winning team than by reading how the Chicago Cubs managed to break their 108-year-old curse. The book will give you insight into how Theo Epstein, the Cubs team president, managed to create a formula for a winning recipe that allowed the Cubs to break the curse.

Coach Wooden and Me

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an NBA legend, had a sincere love for John Wooden, his college basketball coach. In his tribute to the influence Wooden had on him as a person and a player, Wooden and Me is a truly remarkable story on how the bond between coach and player can be something extremely special. The book comes equipped with intimate experiences and stories that impacted the NBA legend profoundly while playing in the UCLA.

You Win in the Locker Room First

If you are a coach that wants to better the lives of players on the field, you merely need to look at Mike Smith, the former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. In his book, you will find a step-by-step strategy that will allow you to build a successful organization. You will find the rules for leaders and coaches in any type of sport to develop a winning culture and you will be able to become a steadfast and calm leader in the process.

Win Forever

If you are interested in becoming a winner, you must read Win Forever by Yogi Roth and Pete Carroll. Coach Carroll is considered one of the most successful football coaches in the world who is currently the head coach for the Seattle Seahawks. In his book, he provides a unique coaching style after testing various philosophies. He provides everything you need to create a winning program, from daily routines to recruiting.

The Score Takes Care of Itself

This is another fantastic story that revolves around taking a losing program and turning it into a winning formula through the eyes of Bill Walsh, a former head coach for the 49ers. In this book, Walsh discusses how he shaped the game during his career. What’s truly impressive is that this book can be incorporated into all walks of life in sports and business. Walsh was an extremely effective leader and creative genius.

Different Styles of Coaching

There are generally three different types of coaching styles available in sports including holistic, democratic, and autocratic. Each of these coaching styles has drawbacks and benefits and it’s vital to understand each and every one of them. For every coach, a personal coaching style needs to be established which will require a decent grasp on their natural tendencies and it usually involves elements that work in conjunction with each of the three coaching styles mentioned above.

Autocratic Coaching

The best way to explain this style of coaching is with a phrase: “My way or the highway.” Coaches that utilize an autocratic coaching style will make decisions with limited or no input from players. The coach essentially articulates his vision for what is required from his players and expects his players to perform accordingly. This is basically a win-focused coaching style and usually features inflexible structures when it comes to training. Autocratic coaching is best suited for team sports as opposed to individual sports.

Democratic Coaching

This coaching style sounds exactly like the name implies. Coaches that use democratic coaching will facilitate the decision-making process and goal-setting requirements with loads of input from their players as opposed to dictating them. This is essentially an athlete-centred style of coaching where the athletes have the ability to shape their very own objectives within a framework that has been outlined by the coach. Coaches that utilize the democratic coaching style provide plenty of autonomy to teams and players who collaborate in their own direction and development. This is a coaching style that is best suited for individual sports, such as track and field and tennis events.

Holistic Coaching

Also referred to as “laissez-faire” coaching, this unique style of coaching is based on the popular theory that a happy player or team will naturally become a successful player or team. You will notice that very little will be offered when it comes to positive feedback and structured training. Instead, the coach that utilizes the holistic coaching style works to develop an environment where players can pursue their skills development and feel more comfortable in their own way and in their own time. The coach will not have central authority, allowing the team or player to set their own unique agendas. This style of coaching is best used for mature players who already managed to develop self-awareness and creativity to guide themselves.

Which Style is Right for You?

Simply deciding on one of the above-mentioned styles isn’t an option for most coaches. There’s only a handful of leaders that solely fall into one coaching style as philosophy and personal experience shape coaching approaches as well. Coaching skills are essentially the same skills that are used in military, academic, and professional settings which can be arranged around a couple of key principles. Basically, a team or player should improve on their skills at the end of the season and a coach needs to know the difference between results and effort.

The Worst Head Coaches in NFL History

Being a National Football League head coach comes with little to no job security. You can easily round up the coaches that are untouchable in the league at the moment on just one hand. However, coaching jobs in the NFL will always reign supreme for those that are insane enough to choose this career. We frequently see head coaches in the NFL get sacked after one or two years due to minuscule reasons, for something out of their control, or due to the fact that they simply bad at their job. We, therefore, decided to showcase NFL coaches that were not capable of leading a team to glory during their careers.

Mike Mularkey

Mike Mularkey replaced Ken Whisenhunt after Week 8 of the 2015 NFL season, giving him the perfect opportunity to prove his worth as a legitimate head coach in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans who decided to make him permanent during the offseason. Including the 9 games for the Titans in the previous season, Mike has been made head coach on three occasions, 2 years for the Buffalo Bills and only 1 season for the Jaguars, giving him an 18-39 overall record. This does not instil loads of confidence as a head coach.

Bill McPeak

As a Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end, Bill McPeak managed to find loads of success. He went to the Pro Bowl on 3 occasions during the 1950’s. However, as a Washington Redskins head coach, he didn’t find the same glorious success. During 5 season on the sidelines for the Redskins, the team never managed to finish with a .500 record. During his brief tenure, the team could only muster up a record of 21-46-3. Although he never received another head coach position after that, he did manage to become the Miami Dolphins’ offensive coordinator.

Darryl Rogers

Darryl Rogers managed to receive the ultimate opportunity in 1985 to coach the Detroit Lions, a team that he loved for pretty much his entire life. However, his time as a head coach did not work out too well. In less than 4 seasons as the head coach for the Detroit Lions, Darryl Rogers only managed to win a total of 18 matches and lost a total of 40 during the same time frame. Therefore it’s no surprise that the organization decided to replace him after only 11 matches in the 1988 season.

Dave Shula

Shula is undoubtably considered the worst head coach when it comes to the modern era of the NFL, spending 5 years trying to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to glory. During his time with the team, he only managed to accumulate an awful record of 19-52. Obviously, after 5 years with the team, Shula never managed to receive another head coach position within the NFL.

Bert Bell

Bert Bell was the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach from 1963 to 1941 and was far too familiar with losing as opposed to winning as he only managed to win 10 matches out of 58 games.

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 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.

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.