Great coaching; what makes it possible?

Emilie Linstedt & Mercury Staff, Writer

Many BFA athletes recall a former coach with great fondness.  “Coach X was the BEST!”  But what was it about that coach? What are the qualities that make up a good coach, anyway?  Is it just the coach’s personality, or did she or he learn specific skills along the way?

According to Bill Cole, creator of “The Mental Game Coach,” there are 15 characteristics that stand out in good coaches.

Some of the these qualities include: exquisite self awareness; high emotional intelligence; broad vision with detailed, focused, communication; regard for clients (athletes); being a continuous learner; humbleness and open-mindedness.

In addition to these qualities, being able to “teach” athletes, especially in grade school and high school, is a must.  Being an effective “teacher” of skills and strategies to young athletes could be one of the most useful skills that a great coach needs to have.  

As well, the “style” of coaching often is important.  What is good for one sport might not be effective in another, and even for different athletes within a team, there are styles that motivate the majority of players.  Jeff Moulton, social studies teacher and long time coach at BFA, believes style is important.

Moulton recalls: “the old school type, where coaches would get in your face and yell, not to demean you, but to motivate you. This works for certain players but not all. This worked at a certain time, but not necessarily today,” Moulton said.  

And younger, or “new” coaches have to be open to combining qualities and skills, as they seek to become a coach who is respected, and possibly even admired.

Josh Corrigan is a new teacher in the BFA physical education department, and he has coached BFA athletes as an assistant for a number of years.

“It’s not just the practice 2 hours every day, or the games. Coaching takes a lot more of your time. You have to think about plays, games, and practice designs,” Corrigan said.

It does not take long for many of those entering coaching to learn lessons about qualities they need, teaching, and effective styles:  “Coaching is a lot more than teaching these kids and athletes the game. It is about getting to know the kids that you are working with. It takes a lot of patience to know the kids,” Corrigan said.  

All of the individuals who coach for BFA are directed by Athletic Director Dan Marlow.  Part of the required process for every BFA coach is to take a series of classes regarding successful coaching methods and player safety.

Being the kind of coach who athletes will remember long after the season is over clearly involves a special formula of all of these elements, but especially the relationships with the athletes themselves. Qualities, teaching, styles and training — in the end they all matter.