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How to Win

What It Means to Be a Coach

“When all is said and done, teaching is what I try to do for a living.” – Jack Welch, CEO, General Electric from ‘Jack: Straight from the Gut’

You can bet that the players (and coaches) in today’s Final Four matchups have received great coaching at some point. But what IS great coaching?

John Kessel of USA Volleyball writes with a rare combination of simplicity and insight. One of his recent posts is must reading for any coach.

He wrote: “I will go back a bit in time to when the term coach was used to move VIPs, who could afford to ride, rather than walk or ride a horse, from one place to another.  This concept then began to be used when a teacher worked to move VISs — as in Very Important Students — from their one place of knowledge to another, higher, level.  The key here is, to be a coach, you have to move people from one place to another — or else you are not a coach. To paraphrase the great coach John Wooden — ‘You haven’t coached them if they haven’t learned.’ ”

Kessel goes on to describe the coach’s principal role. “A coach is a TEACHER first, and ALWAYS.”

It’s true. Great coaches teach. They move students from one place to another through their instruction.

A perfect example is one of baseball’s greatest managers, Joe McCarthy. Hall of Fame player Joe DiMaggio once said, “Never a day went by when you didn’t learn something from McCarthy.”

McCarthy left his 10 Commandments for Baseball Success. Most apply to all areas of life, as does my personal favorite, No. 6: “Do not alibi on bad hops. Anyone can field the good ones.”

Legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant taught life lessons, as in: “When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: 
1.  Admit it.   2. Learn from it, and  3. Don’t repeat it.”

This weekend, the best college basketball teams in the country will find exactly what they have learned.

Coach Tully’s Extra Point: The web site Coaching Quotes is a trove of insight.


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