Qualities of a good coach

Discussion in 'General Softball' started by coachjwb, Aug 31, 2019.

  1. coachjwb

    coachjwb Well-Known Member

    So what are some of the qualities of a good coach? I have many thoughts of my own on this, but want to put it out there for others to comment on before I offer mine, and then I'd like to narrow it down to the top 5.
  2. daboss

    daboss Active Member

    Wow!!! The list could grow forever. lol. Let me try 5 top characteristics and see what happens. I'll target my 5 choices as if we are discussing a head coach.

    1. Education: The knowledge of every aspect of the sport including proper mechanics, fundamentals of the positions, and strategy of the game. You can teach kids for years but if you are teaching the wrong mechanics, time doesn't make it right. If you are not prepared in knowing the game, its senseless to assume a leadership roll.

    2. Communication: People skills and teaching methods can make or break a coach. A good coach will pick their battles. A great coach will listen with an open mind. Egos are for coaches that are unsure of themselves. This game is constantly growing and evolving. You should too.

    3. Versatility: The ability to understand and implement the need to adapt. Some players may be limited physically and it may be necessary to think outside the box for ways to get the most out of a player. Example; years ago an American League catcher had knee problems that made it impossible to catch from the typical squatting position. He experimented with and developed his skills to work from a squatting position with his leg straightened and out to the side. While coaches were reluctant to let him catch using a method different from the traditional squat, he proved it to be effective. Many catchers now use this method all because an open-minded coach had enough faith in his key player. There are more ways to get a high level of production out of a player. You have to adapt!!!!

    4. Motivation: The ability to physically and psychologically encourage a player in a positive manner. It is proven that negative enforcement is not efficient------especially when working with females. Their chemical differences from males make them more receptive to a positive influence/encouragement. NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) offer coaching classes thru the NFCC (National Fastpitch Coaches College) that are college accredited for a degree in Kinesiology. This is the understanding of anatomy, physiology, motor function, and overall wellness of a human being, and to instruct you how to get the most production out of a player. Most top level coaches have this or are studying for this degree. The NFCC instructors are hand picked coaches and players from the most prestigious programs in the world. The classes are available for anyone seeking them. The highest level is a Four-Star Master Coach. I'm very proud of having received my 2-Star Master Coach rating last winter.

    5. Leadership: The word itself is explanatory. Just like the physical limitations of the individual players, leadership to its core seems to be ingrained into our DNA. It comes more natural for some while others really need to work on improving and developing leadership skills. Coaches; don't fake it till you make it. You don't want players that confidently trick you into believing they can do something only to find out they are used car salespeople. Learn how to develop the above to its fullest before assuming the roll of a mentor. You are working with impressionable minds. You interaction with your players will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Don't take the position lightly. Minds are at stake.

    My top 5 will be scrutinized, picked apart, reworded, disputed, and dispelled. They are general but I believe cover the qualities of a head coach. Not everyone can be a head coach. That's why specialized coaching positions are held in high degree. especially by great head coaches. Specialized Coaches can focus their education on specific positions with an intense passion thus sharing their expertise in a quality manner. Head coaches can entrust their staff by delegating. This allows him/her to focus more on other aspects of the game.

    It's rewarding when the experience can teach life lessons that will help the players in other aspects of life. Someday, this game will be over for them but the lessons last forever. Great coaches never lose sight of that fact.
  3. coachjwb

    coachjwb Well-Known Member

    I had in mind a head coach when I posted a thread, and it's really hard to actually dispute any of yours, Daboss. I especially liked the adjectives you used to group and explain some of your qualities like education and versatility. It also makes me think about other aspects of life ... e.g., a good parent or a good business leader needs most of those same qualities. I'm really glad you pointed out in the versatility one about how to get the most out of each player ... every player, every one of us, has our strengths and weaknesses. Too often, leaders/parents/coaches focus on, get frustrated and even sometimes obsessed with the weaknesses. While a good coach who is educated as you say hopefully can help develop some of the weaknesses, they also need to figure out ways to utilize each player's strengths to both help the team and to enhance the self-esteem of the individual players.

    Outstanding and well-thought out post as always, Daboss!
    Bink44, IRdad09 and daboss like this.
  4. CARDS

    CARDS Active Member

    Daboss hit the top two that will apply to most any other area.

    #! Education:
    Is the coach willing to invest the time into becoming an accredited coach, build their coaching networks and adopt practices that enhance player development and growth that not only improves their ability to instruct and manages games/teams but enhance my second area...Communication... that helps the coach to understand how to manage, delegate responsibilities and make the necessary adjustments in game or during team related activities and practices..

    #2 Communication:
    This is the downfall of many of coaches... Is the coach Honest, fair and balanced in their communication? Do they understand various ways of communication besides verbal? (Body Language can be a big benefit or weakness)...The the ability to use electronic communication for schedules, team updates etc. is critical in today's coaching. Is the coach able to model the instruction they want their players to understand...(I am talking more than physical ability). Good communicators are generally good leaders since they understand how to reach a diverse audience.
    Bink44 and daboss like this.
  5. brownsfan

    brownsfan Member

    I'm a head coach of a middle school team. You're number 2 was my number 1. I was upfront with my players and my parents about play time, discipline, and any other issues. I told them all everyone gets equal playing time up until a said point to when the starters would get 60% of the innings. Only one real complaint came my way; which I will say was a successful season.
    daboss likes this.
  6. coachjwb

    coachjwb Well-Known Member

    Communication has been stressed by most of the posters here ... I just want to expand on that a little. While good communication with your players is obviously critical, I think it's equally important to be able to effectively communicate with the parents. The one thing I found most challenging when I coached was communication with the parents of females. And depending on what level your team is, that communication can be different. As we all know, many parents have their eyes on the almighty college scholarship and you have more challenges with that on the upper level teams. The one advantage (lever?) those coaches have though is that the parents sometimes realize that playing on that team for that coach are key to that goal, whether they like or agree with the coach. On other teams, the parents believe the grass is always greener somewhere else. And of course, most of us parents want to "protect" our kids (especially daughters I think) and believe they are more talented then they really are.

    I think of myself as a very good communicator, but I'll be honest ... I never really figured out how to deal with that, and it's the only reason that I eventually stepped away from coaching. I'd really like to hear from some of you coaches out there who have figured it out, or at least have advice for new coaches.
    CARDS likes this.
  7. Xrayaries

    Xrayaries Active Member

    Coaches should shy away from commenting on this post. You may be the only one in the room that thinks you're a quality coach. Not saying anyone is or isn't. Just what I know and see.
    Cougerfan likes this.
  8. Xrayaries

    Xrayaries Active Member

    I can drop philosophy of coaching and sound intelligent about it all day long. This does not translate to educating and communicating with youth athletes. I have seen successful coaches be hated by entire teams. So success is not a measurable attribute for the quality of a coach. Most coaches at the travel level are just there to manage the game. With every child on the team taking hitting, pitching, catching and fielding lessons privately. The head coach is stuck under a rock because changing what her private coach is teaching would be detrimental to development.

    A quality coach in Travel Ball is.

    Top notch at managing a game from the clock to player positioning and everything in-between during a game.
    Does not see parents as the bad guy. (This will lead to explosive moments during tournaments.)
    Cougerfan and Justamom like this.
  9. Steamer

    Steamer New Member

    If this is your approach to travel softball please keep your day job and dont coach. Signed one of the 90%.
    22dad, CARDS and Justamom like this.
  10. CARDS

    CARDS Active Member

    I have found that parent communication starts with consistency and good planning. Good planning helps establish regular routines for the parents as well as players and being consistent in how you address situations helps stop the parent biases.

    There is a slight difference in communication between travel softball and High School softball. In HS ball there will be times where you will need to relate information through a third party and CC additional people within the school that can get tricky.

    In Travel ball regardless of team age the coach has to use good written and electronic communication for reoccurring events like practice days, time and locations, game schedules and locations as well as, other important team information like fees, fundraisers etc.

    The coach also needs to give good verbal direction to parents throughout season activities and reinforce/remind parents to regularly check electronic communication and make sure they know and understand what you need them to do .

    As a travel ball coach I would make sure all coaches gave direction to parents so they were aware of team activities and were given plenty of time to schedule and prepare for them that includes fees, fundraisers etc.. Having good electronic resources like file share, twitter,remind and stat software allows for fast communication and updates.

    One BIG thing to keep in mind...Never communicate to just the player and or, expect the player to relay information to the parent. Even at the older ages juniors and seniors in high school they can and do misinterpret direction etc.

    Remember; that the player is the center of the universe to the parent so sometimes mom and dad may be unable to recognize where their DD falls in talent or contributions to the team. Naturally there are those parents you will never be able to reach or be able to communicate enough with.
    Overall, the coach selected all players and they must keep that in mind as they try to grow and develop the players.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
    daboss likes this.

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