Sunday Setting Sights on Success Tip of the Day

Secrets of Winning Coaches

The most successful coach of all time, John Wooden, felt like he had done a better coaching job with some of the teams that did not win championships, but reached a higher potential than what their talent level predicted. In fact, getting the reputation of being a winning coach has little to do with winning championships, at least at the youth levels of baseball.

I have played for numerous winning coaches in my time as a baseball player, from little league baseball all the way to the major leagues. They were all different in their own way, but so similar in many ways, too. Similar in that they always got the most out of their teams’ talent level.

No one formula makes for winning coaches. Some winning coaches coach by the “My way or the highway approach,” while others are more game managers and allow their coaches to do much of the coaching or give their players more freedom to play as they wish. Whatever the coaching style, winning coaches have the following things in common.

Winning Coaches:

  1. Set realistic expectations for their teams, and then proceed to prove those expectations wrong, realizing there are no realistic expectations for winning coaches. They prove those expectations wrong through hard work, belief in their players, and by creating a never give up team attitude.
  2. Demand attention to detail from their teams, realizing the necessities of doing the little things that help teams win. After all, baseball comes down to the ability to hit, catch, run, and throw the ball correctly, so coaches who demand perfection in these areas usually win and become the winning coaches.
  3. Expect to win and teach that attitude to players, without doing it in a manner of winning at all cost – it is one thing to play to win and this gives teams hope, but playing to “expect to win” gives teams belief in themselves that they will find a way to win.
  4. Keep their focus on player development; realizing teams that improve the most by the end of the season are the real winners.
  5. Keep the fun in the game by building self-esteem in players through positive coaching methods.

Finally, winning coaches coach to win, but do that in a way that makes it feel like winning is an afterthought, by making it about the players. Coach Wooden said many times that he didn’t mention the word winning to his team, but “coached” it through his coaching actions and winning attitude.

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