By: John Klessinger, Head Wrestling Coach - South River High School (MD)
Originally Published in: A Coach's Manual
"A good teacher creates an environment that allows the student to succeed." - Bill Parcells, 2x Super Bowl Champion Football Coach, New York Giants
Disclaimer - The traits and characteristics I list for good coaches (and bad) are subjective and opinion. My model of a good coach may be different than someone else's. I will highlight the best practices I have observed, read, and had the opportunity to learn.
What makes a good coach? I believe a good coach demonstrates a passion to their players. They love the game for the game. They see the sport as a way to teach valuable life lessons. The result or winning percentage, while important and validates our effort, is not the end goal. The end goal is about developing players.
A good coach recognizes if all the little things are in place discipline, accountability, commitment, work ethic, etc. - winning and success will be the result. They know "the little things will take care of the big things."
A good coach loves their players. Sometimes, love is tough love where they have high standards and expectations, and they demand it from their players because they know that is what they need to grow and become successful. A coach loves their players when they win and lose. They give the shirt off their back if that is what they need. Love doesn't mean always being friendly, kind, or accommodating. That is the big misconception. Love is giving the players the tools to excel.
Love is not always easy. No different than parenting a child, it is often hard. A good coach maintains their values and beliefs even when it is not popular and well-received. They remain steadfast despite pressure from those around them. They are a leader, and they lead from the front. They demonstrate the qualities of behavior, discipline, and commitment to their players and helps them reach their potential by staying focused on the mission.
A good coach is about their players' development, not their agenda. They make sacrifices in their life to help their players. They compromise at times because it is the right thing to do. Not because they are going against their beliefs. There is a difference. They recognize that their players are young and impressionable and will make mistakes.
A good coach is a teacher. They teach life skills to their players in addition to sport and technical skills. They use their sport as a textbook to teach their players bigger things about life like accountability, responsibility, teamwork, grit, mental toughness, physical toughness, and more.
A good coach leads with a positive attitude, even when it is tough to be positive. They push negativity aside to focus on the things they need to do to better their team. Staying positive is not easy, but they deliberately choose to remain positive even during the most
A good coach is always learning and growing as an individual and a coach. They know there are still things to learn to help them and their players. They set aside time to hone their craft. They don't rest on their laurels and do what they've always done. They constantly reinvent their character, coaching philosophy, and mission.