Sports Coaching: Part I - 12 Attributes That the Best of the Best Coaches All Seem to Have in Common

Ever wonder what it is that inspires some athletes, and teams, to strive for excellence by pushing the edge of the envelope and going well beyond normal expectations to please their coach? Why some are able to pull from deep within themselves (consistently) insurmountable reserves of energy in order to complete a task their leader has asked of them? So what is it that makes that coach one of the very rare best of the best?

From my perspective, you need not look any further than the following 12 items, for within every truly great coach you will find them all (at least to varying degrees).

Expert of the Game

First and foremost, great coaches are experts in the sport for which they coach. They know the ins and outs of the game, the X’s and the O’s, and are able to convey this expertise to all involved. In addition, they tend to surround themselves with assistants/colleagues who have superb knowledge in the areas of the game that those assistants will be responsible for. This not only helps coaches bolster any weakness they may have, it supports the development of a strong program where athletes have a better chance at reaching their potential. The coach and his staff are so knowledgeable their own athletes become students of the game.


These top of the heap leaders are very passionate about their sport. And they bring this passion (and the energy that comes along with it) into all they do for their team. So intense is their desire it becomes infectious, motivating and inspiring all who are under their direction. Simply put, this want (passion) to excel turns into a need for athletes as it becomes a natural part of the process, something a great coach rouses in them because of what they bring to the coaching table.

On/Off Switch

Dovetailing the points above, top coaches recognize how and when to dial down (or up) his passions and desires about the game they love. They know that a high level of controlled intensity is what he or she is looking to get out of their players, as too much or too little passion (or either of these at the wrong time) can spell disaster. You see passion breeds intensity, and intensity heightens game awareness and ability, yet it must be kept in delicate balance as control gets lost when it is not. And great coaches…they know how to regulate this delicate balance, for it can mean the difference between success or failure.


Great coaches have a means to their madness as there is a system they follow for all they do. Practices, game plans and events are well thought through, and proper planning is simply part of their personality as everything has a time and a place. All this organization, structure, and preparation…well, it brings a strong sense of purpose to the athletes and team under the direction of the very best coaches.

Functional & Fundamental

Taking that “sense of purpose” mentioned above a step further, these best of the best insist on functional and fundamental development of their players. Whether it is a physical aspect of the game, or a mental one, there is always a focus on improvement, so spending time on things that are not functional serve little purpose for the “great coach” and are not part of their game plan. In addition, concentration on the fundamental aspects of the sport, and further development of them, is something the very best coaches consistently integrate into their plans. They know these foundations are critical in order for their players to reach the highest levels of performance.

“Hey wait,” you say, “you said there were 12.” Yes I did (actually 13 if you count what’s in my conclusion). Don’t miss Part II - 12 Attributes That the Best of the Best Coaches All Seem to Have in Common coming Wednesday!!!


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