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Best Traits of a Professional Sports Coach Part 1

Whether we’re talking about European football, NFL, basketball, or any other professional sport, there is no denying that the role of the coach is one of the most important on the team.  When a team has a good coach who knows what he’s doing, the team is likely to excel, even with some weaknesses.  When a team is poorly coached, even with greater players, it is significantly likely the team will struggle.  It’s one thing to say that a coach needs to display “great leadership,” but this is a pretty general assessment.  When you are analysing a sports team’s head coach, what are the specific positive traits you should look for?


  • Strong organisational abilities.  The number one thing that a coach needs to be able to do is organise the team and determine what the team’s overall personality, approach, and strategy will be.  He needs to be able to capitalise on the unique strengths of all the individual players and use them to their best effect as part of the whole, all while curbing the impacts of their weaknesses.  If a coach cannot organise a team effectively, even with outstanding players, the team will typically fail, because those strengths will not be harnessed and used to the team’s advantage effectually. 
  • Smart staffing decisions.  You need to not only analyse the head coach, but also the supporting personnel which he selects.  Are his assistant coaches going to be able to do their jobs?  Will they work well with each other, the head coach, and the players?  In this area, you also need to look at delegating abilities.  Is the coach good at handing out responsibilities?  Or does he try to take on too much at once?
  • Strong people skills.  A coach needs to be able to work fairly and amicably with players and other staff.  That entails being honest, even-handed, and especially when doing so is difficult.  While coaches need to respect players’ feelings, they need to know when not to spare them.  The trick is always to keep things in perspective.  The goal is to help players become aware of their shortcomings and move past them while honing their strengths.  The ability to communicate effectively is essential.  So is the ability to continuously motivate players even when delivering challenging feedback. 


If you are following what a coach says and does carefully, and you are seeing one or more of these areas consistently lacking, you are probably looking at a team which is going to struggle over the coming season.  A team which cannot get organised, which is badly staffed, and which cannot learn through effective feedback and honest, direct, motivating communication from its head coach is going to have a hard time performing well, even with a roster full of all-star athletes.  Be sure to read the continuation in our series, Best Traits of a Professional Coach, Part 2  for more great qualities to look for in an effective head coach!


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