In sports, to what extent does the coach have an impact on the team’s success (or lack thereof)? Can a really good coach take a team full of average players and turn them into a championship-caliber team? On the other hand, can a bad coach ruin the chances for a team that is comprised of many talented individual athletes? Sport psychologists enjoy studying these types of questions, as they center around how well coaches teach X’s and O’s and develop mental toughness in their players (Sport Success 360).
This year, Bill Belichick is under the microscope as it applies to the relative importance of a coach on a team’s level of success. The New England Patriots are playing as an average to slightly above-average team, and being written off as a serious Super Bowl contender by most experts. Even though the Patriots are currently 6-3, most football fans agree that they are not even close to any of the previous Patriots teams we have seen over the past ten years. Previously viewed as a God, Belichick has received more criticism this year as he attempts to win with one of the league’s worst defenses and an overall aging NFL team. Can Belicheick “work his magic” again, or has Belichick been the recipient of unwarranted praise in the past for merely guiding along teams full of All-Pro and future Hall of Fame players?
Andy Reid, Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, is another interesting story. The Eagles loaded up in the off-season with high profile player acquisitions, yet after calling themselves the “Dream Team” they have become anything but a dream. Is this all on Reid’s shoulders? This is an interesting case as it’s not a question of talent it appears, but more one around leadership and getting the most out of the team’s abilities.
In the NBA, Phil Jackson has been revered for his 10 NBA championships, and while many of those winning seasons may have been due to Jackson’s leadership, one could certainly make the argument that having Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal on his teams certainly didn’t hurt. In reality, it’s hard to gauge the true effectiveness of Jackson as he has never had to coach a team that didn’t have at least one future Hall of Fame player! Would Jackson have been as successful coaching other, less star-studded teams?
Professional sports are not the only places where these discussions take place, as there are tens of thousands of youth and interscholastic coaches that can also be examined as it applies to their overall impact on team success. In these examples, should we assume traditional powerhouse teams are good because of the coach, or is the success due to other factors, including caliber of athletes on the team, school/community support, funding, or any other variable that might impact success?
Even when you look at coaches, there are countless “types” of coaches to consider – are yellers/screamers the most effective? How about those with a more democratic style? Are perfectionists the best type of coach? What about “old school” coaches? Is there a best “type” of coach??
Do coaches receive too much praise when teams win, and too much blame when teams lose? Some people feel this way. Another comment I regularly hear, even from coaches who are generally successful coaches, is that you “gotta have the horses” (implying that good athletes are the biggest variable toward team success). Perhaps “having the horses” is the starting point, but having a great coach able to develop the talent is the key.
Our sport performance app line is now up to TEN SPORTS! Get your copy today – check all of them out here!
andy, belicheck, coach, jackson, phil, psychology, reid, sport, success, team, winning