Sunday, June 8, 2014

Toughness as a Coach

Lots of good stuff on Twitter today about being tough as a coach and the need for toughness in coaching. Dean Benton (@athletico_dev) tweeted a link to this Huffington Post article defending the toughness of the ousted Canadian rowing coach. Then, Greg White (@GregWhite32) had a string of great tweets about how players need toughness from their coaches. My favorite was this one:

All this talk gets me thinking, what are tough coaches really about? And that brings me to the man in the picture. This is Coach Reinhardt, Hall-of-Fame football coach from Rushford-Peterson (MN). I played for R-P my freshmen and sophomore years, so I didn't play much varsity, but I got to be around Coach Reinhardt a lot. The thing that made Coach Reinhardt great was that he was a tough SOB, but at the same time, you knew he cared. He would be the first one to tell you that you screwed up, but also the first one to pat you on the back when you did something right. That philosophy stuck with me and is what makes a truly great tough-guy coach. You can't be a yeller and a screamer all the time and expect consistent results. Would he yell when he needed to? Of course, but he also developed meaningful relationships with his players. And because of this, his players would run through a wall if he wanted, with no questions asked.

We do need more toughness and honesty in coaching. I truly believe that every player really does desire to be coached, pushed, and held to a high standard. But being Bobby Knight is not productive either. Today's players don't respond to that. Today's tough-guy coach has to be a lot like Coach Reinhardt - have a high standard, don't compromise, be brutally honest, but also work on relationships and give positive feedback when deserved.

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