Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

5 Qualities of a Successful Head Coach!

Posted by admin April - 8 - 2019 - Monday

I’ll be watching my “home-state team” tonight when UVa plays for the NCAA basketball championship. I’m not a big fan of college basketball (pass it around the perimeter for 20 seconds, then someone attempts– and usually misses a 3) and then they go down to the other end! Yawn!!! But, I’ll be cheering on UVa for one reason: Coach Tony Bennett. He is the epitome of class. And…. a darn good coach!

There was a quote in the paper the other day in an article by writer David Teel from Coach Bennett’s sister, Kathi Bennett, who is also a college basketball coach. What Teel reported from her is the focus of this post.

Kathi said, “He’s (Tony) is good on all fronts. Relationships, X’s and O’s, motivation, perspective. He’s steadfast.”

Wow! I started thinking about those 5 qualities and how they fit Tony Bennett and my conclusion was: she’s right! Then I started thinking about some other head coaches I know (either personally or professionally) to see if they “check the boxes” on those 5 qualities. Some graded pretty high; others, not so much!!! It amazed me when I compared their ratings on the 5 qualities to their winning percentage. A very strong correlation!

Let’s look at each of them briefly:

1- Relationships: We are social animals. Our ability to relate and get along with others goes a long way in how effective we are as a leader/head coach. We all need a degree of self-awareness to tell us if we are relating effectively with those we work and live with.

2- X’s and O’s: You’ve heard the saying that “it’s not the X’s and O’s but the Bobby and Joe’s” that determine success. That is true to an extent. We have to have some talent to be successful. But, what about those teams that DO have talent and still don’t win consistently? We’ve played people over the years that I knew going in that our team was simply better-prepared; i.e., better-coached, than our opponent. You’d better know your craft and be able to teach it well.

3- Motivation: It’s the underlying theme of this site. Motivation encompasses most everything that involves the critical mental part of the game of coaching. How do you go about motivating a bunch of 16 and 17 year olds to play with intensity and enthusiasm… throughout a game; throughout a season; throughout a year? Motivation, to me, means encouraging others to achieve more than they think they’re capable of.

4- Perspective: How do you see the world? How do you see a challenge? How do you see yourself? It’s sorta like your “world-view.” When you lose a BIG game (like Tony Bennett did in the 1st round of the play-off’s last year), how do you handle it? When you win that championship, what does it do to your view of things? Your perspective… and being able to keep a positive, healthy perspective is crucial to your mental well-being!

5- Finally, Steadfast: Perhaps my favorite Bible verse is Philippians 3:14. It says to “press on towards the goal…” Press on! That means that there’s going to be pressure. Can you remain steadfast in striving to achieve your goal when things don’t go well? Can you press on when confronted with obstacles that seem insurmountable? On the other hand, will you remain steadfast when things are going well? Or… is that when you get lazy and relax?

If you’re reading this, I encourage you to take a piece of paper and a pen and write down these 5 qualities… then grade yourself (letter grades are fine or 1-5) on where you think you are. Then…. this is important!… ask someone who you respect and will be honest with you (and who knows something about coaching!) and ask them to grade you! Then compare the two. It will be an excellent exercise in growing and developing as a coach and as a person.

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