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What Impact Does Coaching Have on a Team’s Success or Failure?

Why is it that many teams undergo numerous personnel changes with players over the years, but continuously perform either really well or really poorly?  Oftentimes there is one consistent factor, and that is the coach.  Teams are hesitant to change coaches for a number of reasons - even when a team is not performing at its top potential.  Still, there are few personnel who have the level of impact on a team that the coach does.  What are some ways that coaching can lead a team to succeed or fail?


  1. The coach is responsible for organising the team and deciding what “kind” of team it should be.  Each team has different strengths and weaknesses, a kind of incorporated personality all its own.  The whole is more than the sum of its parts, and a coach is responsible for getting this gestalt principle to work.
  2. The coach needs to make hiring decisions.  The assistants that a coach picks need to be able to work with the coach and the players to bring the vision for the team to fruition.
  3. Both the coach and the assistants have to put together a weekly game plan.  Game planning is where strategy comes into play, and it is one of the single largest determining factors in how a team will perform on the field.  Without the right staff, there is no way that a team is going to be able to get organised enough and focused enough to win.  The coach and assistants are responsible for analysing the opposing team as well and figuring out what weaknesses to exploit, all while closing up the team’s own gaps. 
  4. A coach also needs to be able to confer with the director or manager who makes the decisions about player personnel changes.  While the coach is not directly responsible for releasing or drafting players, his input is invaluable.  The decisions made by the director or manager are often a reflection of the observations and suggestions of the coach.


On a less tangible level, a head coach is also responsible for setting the tone for a team for a season.  Most players are amply self-motivated that they do not need a coach to motivate them, but the coach may need to create the right air of discipline for players to stay focused on the season ahead and make smart decisions on and off the field. 


You can see now how the quality of a coach and his approach can have a broad effect on the success or failure of a team, even when players come and go.  If a coach is incapable of organising the team and making good calls, you are going to see a weak team across the board, even sometimes when excellent drafting decisions are made.  A good coach on the other hand can compensate for weaknesses, close gaps, and keep players focused on success, even when things are tough-going.

Read on about other  factors which affect team form and about the best traits of a professional sports coach Part 1 and Part 2.


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