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  • Writer's pictureHugh Lawrence

The teacher-coach: what makes good?

Good coaches act like good teachers. They care about those over whom they have responsibility and constantly engage in reflection on what they do and how they do it.

Legendary US Football coach, Paul Brown, had no doubts about the teaching side of coaching[1]:

“A pro… coach is a teacher, no matter what. The players must learn. No matter what you teach, you must get people to want to learn. People think there are great mysteries attached to the game, but there are not. It comes down to fundamentals and they must be taught.

If we tell [our players] ‘why’ — and I’ve always insisted on telling my players why, why we do everything we do, whether it’s on or off the field — they are more apt to accept it and get in the spirit.”

Hall of Fame coach, Don Shula (who worked under Coach Brown early in his career), said that “Paul Brown was the greatest influence on me, especially in the teaching aspect of coaching.”

“I’ve found that answering the ‘why’ has made me a better coach. It’s not what you know but what your ball players know that counts. We make it as much like a classroom as possible, using all sorts of teaching aids, followed by practice on the field, followed by going over mistakes and improvements in the classroom.

The important thing is not what Don Shula knows or what any of my assistant coaches know. The important thing is that we can transmit to the people we’re responsible for. That’s what coaching is… the ability to transmit information.”

Novelist, Amelia Barr, once said “It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.” And good teachers keep it simple.

(Photo source: LA Times)

[1] Clary, J. (1976). The Game-Makers

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