Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Inspirational Coaches

Even those who have never played any competitive sports understand the inspirational effect a coach can have on a team. A coach's inspirational ability is often based on merely a reputation to inspire. In other words, they are role models that can impart strength, endurance and passion just by looking angry, wry, or pensive. Inspiration, coaches and big happy smiles are not generally associative things.
When it comes to coaches, inspiration rarely comes in the form of a conversational tone. It's either animated shouting, or a kind of disgruntled gruffness. There are different "inspirational poses" as well. Here's a classic basketball coach pose. One arm lays across the stomach holding the opposite arm just under the elbow The hand on the supported arm is placed around the chin with one thumb on the left cheek, and the index finger on the other. I'm inspired just imagining it.
Let's take a look at inspirational coaches across the different leagues and around the world. There has to be some secret as to why a 5 foot 10 inch Scott Brooks can motivate men who could probably dunk on him.
  • Lou Piniella – Inspirational coaches increase their inspiration-quotient exponentially when they themselves were former great players. Lou was a good baseball player, and also a fan-favorite, which he used to his advantage throughout his coaching days. His main inspirational tool was anger. If you did not lay that sacrifice bunt down, he would put the fear of God into you. If you got called out on a bad call, Piniella would put the fear of God into the ump on your behalf. So, coaches, if you can put the fear of God into people, you were a former good player, and were and are a fan favorite, it's likely you are going to be an inspirational coach.
  • Phil Jackson – Now, this guy had inspiration figured out. Smug, knowing smiles, exasperated gestures reeking of self-entitlement (probably deserved entitlement), and valuing the six inches between his athletes' heads more than their wingspan, Phil Jackson uses Zen inspiration. He says things like this to inspire: "If you meet Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball." He also had an incredibly successful career. Although, for the purpose of this post, let's just ignore the fact that he always coached basketball teams with some of the all-time greats on them. So, in honor of Phil Jackson's ability to inspire, just remember that, "Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We."
  • Vince Lombardi – In order to have the trophy for one the world's most popular sporting events, the Super Bowl, named after you, you probably inspired someone. Vince Lombardi has inspired players, coaches, playwrights – you name it, he's inspired them. Check this quote out: "The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price."
  • John Wooden – College coaches always have to be inspirational. This is because they are coaching young kids. In other words, a college coach not only has to coach his players in terms of the sport, but also in terms of life. John Wooden is not only the most successful coach of all time (obviously debatable, but let's go with it), he has a pyramid of success with his quotes and an epic picture of him thinking in the background. But in all seriousness, John Wooden represents an aspect of coaching that is largely undervalued in today's world of multi-million professional athletes, specifically, athletic competition is not the end of the road for the vast majority of participants. However, success always requires the same thing: the drive to succeed and work for that success.
If you are interested in the larger implications of coaching in an academic environment, check out the degrees that could allow you to work in this kind of coaching context.

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