It is a well-known practice in the world of professional sports to employ great players in the role of coach to professional teams. This trend is based on the belief that great players come with bundles of experience and should automatically fill the role of a great coach. This isn’t always the case.
The Role in Coaching
To a certain degree, it helps to have some experience in the game, when taking on the role of coach. It is beneficial in the sense that as a former player, you have a more excellent grasp in certain sport-specific aspects of the game, in the knowledge of tactical and technical issues. It also gives an exceptional understanding of the kind of socialization which occurs within the organization of a club or a team. Even though these are great to have, it only makes up for a tiny part of the entire role which a coach needs to fulfil. A coach is also responsible for much more in the sense of planning, constant preparations, one-on-one training and the many personal challenges which such role presents.
Different Experience Required
If being a former great player is not the be-all and end-all to being an excellent coach, then the question arises, what the contributing factors which great coaches have in common are? Often these include specific formal qualifications in sports education. Going back to Jose Mourinho as an example again. Mourinho didn’t even play 100 games during his time in the Portuguese second division, yet he is brilliant at managing one of the greatest soccer clubs globally, Manchester United. Mourinho’s background includes studies in sport science as well as the fact that he was employed as a physical education teacher; he was also a youth team coach and was involved in scouting new young players. He also filled the position of assistant coach before he became the head coach. The results of his background are reflected in his league title wins for Italy, Spain, England as well as Portugal. The main reason for this lack of much-needed experience in fields other than playing in coaches who had a brilliant playing career is because these former players haven’t had the time to gather experience in anything other than playing.
The Issues with Great Players
When team owners start to give preference to former players when they are looking to contract a new coach or manager for their teams, they are limiting themselves to a group with inadequate education and experience in much-needed fields. They also reduce the pool of possible candidates to a tiny group. Hence the best approach would much rather be to hire someone with an adequate level of experience in all the skills required to coach a team to greatness, rather than to pick someone based on their success as a player.