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Top 10 Strategies of American Sports’ Best Coaches

Updated on March 12, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

Getting the right strategy

Do you ever wonder how the best coaches in America motivate their team to victory? You have seen or heard of John Wooden, a coaching wizard, who led his UCLA college basketball team through the toughest of competition to the ultimate prize 10 years in a row yet are not sure how he could command such top performances from his players year after year.

Of course you have heard of the famed Bobby Knight, the polar opposite of Mr. Wooden, who year after year produced tough, high performing teams. While he did not imitate Mr. Wooden’s success he still won 3 NCAA basketball championship trophies through is many years of coaching.

Some coaches achieve success by being the ultimate nice guy, while others need to play the tough guy role and yell their way to the top. Of course there are a host of good coaches falling everywhere along the spectrum between the two extreme styles of coaching.

So what kind of strategies do they use to help them be a success?

Top 10 Strategies

#1. Watching Game Film—in the book written in ancient China by Sun Tzu called the Art of War, says that if you want to be victorious, you need to know your enemy. This advice has been followed by both generals and admirals and other military leaders over the centuries as well as athletic coaches.

The best coaches study the film of their opponents for hours a day figuring out their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. Knowing their enemy helps the coaches prepare the best game day strategy to help their team to victory.

#2. Giving Encouragement & Correction-- The best coaches turn to providing the right words of encouragement at the right time to help motivate their players and let them know their play is greatly appreciated.

They have to be careful here in order to avoid developing a swelled head n their players. A player thinking too much of himself is not going to respond well to instruction or correction when it comes. They will think they can do it all and forget the basics leading their team to defeat instead of victory.

BUT correction is also needed as players are not perfect and make many mistakes in a game. Players make mistakes and how a coach handles those with good correction may determine how their season goes.

#3. Teaching Players to Use Their Talent—This is a key element of any successful team and coach. Teaching the player to trust their gut, or give them confidence to use their talent goes long way into bringing success to a team and by extension to a coach.

Teaching them how to think during the game is crucial and is a talent a lot of coaches have not mastered. Sometimes players overthink during the competition and the coach has to realize this mistake is taking place and tell his players to change that habit. Overthinking a play or situation is detrimental to success and victory.

#4. Adapt to Player Personalities—Not every strategy will work on every player and they may not work every time you use it. A successful coach must be able to see his players as an individual and discern their personalities, which in turn allows them to construct the right strategy for the player.

If a player is too timid, being a shouting maniac like Bobby Knight may not be the best approach to drawing that competitive spirit out of them

#5. Take Away the Stress—Stress is always going to play a role in competition. The athlete is almost always questioning themselves if they are good enough or if the opponent is going to be too tough. A good coach must learn when to take the stress away.

#6. Communication—A successful coach builds great communication and lets his expectations be known to all the players. Mr. Wooden had a dress code for his team and when one of the better stars was not following the rules he took the player aside and in his understated way, told the player that he hoped the star would be happier on his next team.

When the player asked why, Mr. Wooden pointed out the rule violation. The player got the message loud and clear. If he wanted to play for a great coach, he needed to abide by the coach’s rules.

#7. Get Feedback—Most athletic teams have a multitude of coaches on staff these days. It is not like the old days when coaches took the role of leader upon their shoulders alone. Now that mantle is shared by many assistants who specialize in different aspects of the sport they are coaching.

A successful coach now has people he can turn to who will give him feedback on his coaching style, if he is missing anything or whatever. .

#8. Add To Your Knowledge—A good coach is not a stagnant coach. In other words, he does not think he knows it all or that he is the end all be all of coaches. A successful coach learns new strategies, when to sit players, when to change their play and so on.

A wise man always seeks knowledge and understanding and that thinking applies to coaching as well.

#9. Keep It Simple!!—far too often there are coaches out there trying to prove how intelligent they are and they construct game or fight strategies that are far too complicated and too difficult for the player to remember.

There was a commercial I believe for a copier company back in the 70s that showed a football team carry copies of plays with them as they ran the play and every once in a while a player would stop and look at the paper the make an adjustment in his positioning resulting in a successful move.

Keeping it simple means the player can focus more on what he is doing, do it faster or smarter and achieve success. Don’t bog your player down with too many details but allow his talent to carry the day.

#10. Get The Best Facilities—though not always a factor in winning championships, good facilities help training and the better trained the athlete is the better they will perform. The same goes with keeping the players hydrated and getting them the right proteins so their bodies can function at their peak performance level.

The better the health of the player the better they can do their job which is to win. If a player can train in state of the art facilities then they may have a little advantage over their opponents who do not. Training facilities are more of a psychological than physical aid as getting better facilities helps he mind which in turn tells the player they are being treated well and respected so they must improve their output in response.

Some final comments

Keeping the athlete properly hydrated during practice and competitions a great way to avoid injuries to the athlete. It also avoids problems like dehydration which can cause a lot of health problems to the athlete which in turn demoralizes the team and brings down their contribution to the tea whereby success is now out of reach.

Proteins are another factor in maintaining the health of an athlete and contributing to his overall performance. There are many ways to get the proteins the body needs to function at its best but meat is always one of the best sources for protein. Eating a good meal with meat keeps the athlete in top shape protein wise and in turn helps him to perform at his best.


© 2019 David Thiessen

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