Playing, Coaching and Leadership

It has been said that not all great players (even if they are leaders on the field) make great coaches.  Why is that?  Well most of all I feel that it has to do with the different roles that coaches and players (those who are leaders especially) play.  It also has to do with skill sets that a lot of times great players don’t have to develop to excel (communication or teaching for instance).

A few weeks ago one of my favorite former NFL players was fired as head coach for the San Francisco 49ers.  I had always pulled for Mike Singletary as a player (mostly because of his testimony and profession of faith in Jesus Christ) so of course I wanted him to succeed as a coach.  He was always a player that seemed to be able to get those around him to elevate their play, so why couldn’t he do that as head coach?

I recently saw this from CSNBayArea.com:

With Singletary in charge, the 49ers often looked like a team that played tight and were afraid to make mistakes. “I think we did play tight,” Vernon Davis said. “Guys were a little scared. They were more worried about coach Singletary getting on them than playing football.” Interim coach Jim Tomsula made it his mission last week to get the 49ers to have fun. The 49ers responded with a 38-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Leadership and respect as a player is earned by hard work, more what you do then what you say.  As coach you have to display hard work outside of practice and games, but you also have to know how to communicate.  As a player you can encourage and lead by example.  As a coach you must lead by example, BUT you must also know how to talk you your players, motivate your players and encourage your players both VERBALLY and through your actions towards them and their teammates.

I have also found out that if you are constantly down on players, they will play tight and not meet even reasonable expectations.  But the opposite also seems to be true.  When you show and express confidence in your players, they start believing in themselves and playing beyond expectations. I have also learned as a coach that if you can get your players to just got and and play hard and have fun the sky’s the limit!  After all, it is just a game.

Coach John Wooden loved to win, but never ever emphasized ‘winning’ or used the phrases we hear all the time now ‘Just win baby’ or ‘win at all costs’ with his players.  Yet, he was an amazing coach who holds some of the most prestigious records for winning as a coach in the NCAA.  What was his key to success?  Teaching, communicating, getting his players to strive to be the best they could be individually.  Because his definition of success was becoming the best that you could possibly be and doing your best in every effort.  A lot of times this translated into wins for him.  He knew when to be a teacher, and encourager, a pusher and even when to show strength and discipline.

I still need to work to communicate better.  To meet people where they are at.  To encourage and build up and not knock/tear down.  I am working towards this every day.  I want my players to give their all every time they step on the floor.  To reach their potential.  To do their best.  I want them to succeed and that doesn’t just mean win or it may not even mean having a winning record.  To me the most important thing is to see them become all that God has designed them to be and not just as basketball players, but more importantly in life itself!

What about you?  How is your communication with those around you?  Do you inspire those around you to be the best they can be (can apply to all areas of life) or are your promoting fear of failure and advancing at all costs?  Does your life show forth caring, concern and Christ love to everyone?  What areas do you need to have worked on in your life?

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