What does it take to be a Jake White, a Gavin Hunt or a Patrick Fick?
28 October 2011 | SEAN VAN STADEN | SPORTS COLUMNIST
What does it take to be a great coach?
A coach, like Patrick Fick, whose basketball team recently qualified for the 2012 disabled Olympics despite lack of funds and resources?
A coach is the el capitan of the ship, the CEO of the Board, the Grandmaster chess player.
They sit evaluating and calculating probabilities based on current position, manpower and employ tactics and fore thinking strategy to rear the game in his favour.
They are the puppet masters pulling the strings.
The chief cannot do it all by himself, though.
So, the first aspect in becoming a great coach is having great people around you, and great coaches take the time to identify talent to stimulate, challenge and bring an excellence to the environment of success.
A stunning quote from Scottish writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle best describes this, he says: “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognises genius”.
Great coaches I believe have great passion for their sports, borderline obsession if you may, but if you were French they would refer to it as, “love”, for what you do.
When the passion and love is there running through your veins like the Nile River through Egypt, everything around you seems to flourish, grow and prosper.
Let’s not forget phenomenal communication skills and understanding human psychology.
Great coaches need to be able to motivate, tease, and nurture players. Have you ever noticed how great coaches seem to always say the right things at the right time and pick you up when you are down?
Or know what to say to get that extra 10% out of you when you feel like you just want to give up?
When I asked professional footballer Gordon Gilbert what his opinion was to why he thinks SuperSport United’s Hunt is a great coach, he said: “He is a great motivator and players will give him everything because he has the power to bring the best out of them and his players know it”.
Cohesion and team building is a vital key that great coaches need to have in their tool box.
As Chelsea learnt very quickly that 11 of the most expensive and talented players and an almost limitless cash flow from a Russian billionaire’s wallet won’t necessarily win you a title.
Talent alone will only get you so far. A great coach will work with what he has got and infuse synergy between players and bond his unit to tackle the fiercest of competitors.
Finally, great coaches have the x-factor, the hidden genius within.
When the conditions are right and his or her systems have been fine-tuned, magical things start to happen.
Like a moth to a flame, you are mesmerised by the sheer brilliance, the beauty of play and the success that comes with it. Great coaches are what every fan and player lives for.
Sean is a sports scientist and director of Advanced Sports Performance.
Catch his column in The Citizen every fortnight.
Follow me on Twitter, SeanVStaden