When I began my coaching career, I sought out advice from many veteran coaches as to the secret of becoming successful. I sat at the feet of many, feeling like a searcher going to the mountains of Tibet for a cosmic answer, but in reality, I went to clinics and many McDonald’s. Not unexpectedly, I received a whole lot of responses, many varied. It seemed that everyone I asked was willing to offer what helped them the most, which made a lot of sense. I appreciated all that I was given and began to sort through the pile, eventually coming upon the one I thought was best: “Whatever you do, be yourself”. This was solid and easy since I didn’t have to change anything. I found through my experiences, however, another thought that I would offer any young coach today who would come up to me and ask for the same advice: “Be what your team NEEDS”. I have used this little concept in all facets of my life and I have found it the more valuable one as time has gone on.
The first advice served me well in an athletic world where everyone copied the latest successful coach or program. Drill sergeant was the “flavor of the day” when I started out and you could see that style in any number of high school gyms in America. It wasn’t difficult for me to relate to this style since I grew up surrounded by it. Around me, however, I saw that there were difficulties. The problem was that this style didn’t mesh with many of those coaches’ personalities. They were putting on a false act, and players were soon able to see through that. Coaches weren’t being honest with themselves. I felt early on that being “real” was better and it was something that I kept in mind.