So you want to be a coach?

Coaching an
amateur sports team used to be viewed as an easy way to capture reflected
glory. Today’s coaches have to put up with a multitude of distractions, egos
and hassles. Keeping players’ attention when their cell phones ring or receive
texts is one problem. Waiting for them to take off all their bling another…

Coaches
have to be many things: they have to be inspirational, they have to be firm
they, even sometimes have be a bit of a psychologist to get the best out of
their team. Basketball coach Eddie Robinson declared: “Coaching is a profession
of love. You can’t coach people unless you love them.”

Most
amateur coaches in Cayman would agree that this is probably a step too far and
one wonders if Robinson would have felt the love for one particular footballer
renowned for disciplinary problems who was sent off playing for Cayman’s
national side early in the game. He was distraught and his team-mates were
furious at his recklessness which put them at a severe disadvantage. At
half-time he was still sobbing when disgruntled team-mates streamed in. The
coaches and players were having none of his histrionics and the sobbing
continued as they trooped out for the second half. The coaches had decided the
best punishment for bad behaviour was to extend no sympathy and ignore him.

In
some ways he got off lightly. British football manager Brian Clough was
notorious for his bluntness and his own inimitable man management skills. When
asked about how he dealt with the friction between himself and his former captain
Roy Keane his reply was: “I only ever hit Roy the once. He got up so I couldn’t
have hit him very hard.”

Bad
behaviour and cry babies are one just one of the many things coaches have to
deal with, another is that sports people can be extremely superstitious. It can
go to the most ridiculous lengths, perhaps not quite as daft as English
football player Barry Venison who declared: “I 
always put my right boot on first – and then obviously my right sock.”
But still verging on silliness. This can be very frustrating for a coach.

Take
the player here who felt he couldn’t perform well unless he wore the No.7 shirt
and was furious when a team-mate was given his favourite jersey instead. An
argument ensued but the new recipient would not budge. So strained was the
atmosphere that the players almost came to blows during the match and the
coaches spent an inordinate amount of time trying to keep the peace. Cayman
lost. Again the head coach might have been better adopting the Brian Clough
attitude – no not hitting him, but making his the last word: “We talk about it
for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right.”

Coaches
have to be clever and have a few psychological tricks up their sleeves.
Sometimes they even stretch the truth. A couple of years ago Cayman’s men’s flag
team went to a tournament in San Diego having been told by their coach that it
would be a huge multi-national event with crowds packing the venues. Confidence
boosted, the players felt like NFL candidates on the way there. When they
arrived however imagine their surprise when there were only three other teams
and virtually no spectators and zero atmosphere. In this situation the coach
would have been wise to remember the words of the legendary Bear Bryant: “In a
crisis, don’t hide behind anything or anybody. They are going to find you
anyway.”

Coaches
should also practise what they preach or at least not get caught out. One West
Bay coach who was passing on tips to a youth team on good habits insisted that
they should always be totally focused at training sessions and never have their
cell phones on. His lecture went on for ages. Imagine his embarrassment when as
he finished administering the stern message his own phone went off.

Another
coach who has been featured in the Caymanian Compass for gaining a high level
rugby coaching badge was playing sevens rugby when his side went behind. He
berated team-mates so much that he was banned from criticising because it
disrupted the team so much.

Coaches
also need to learn that each player has to be treated differently and not all
respond to the same treatment. One coach 
was in despair when his star quarterback had two successive bad flag
football games. The quarterback was a renowned party animal, known to smoke and
drink even on the morning of the matches, yet he always excelled on the pitch.
When the coach asked why his form had dipped so drastically it turned out that
he had adopted clean living habits and gone to bed sober early on a Friday
night and no longer abused his body. When he adopted his old ways the coach was
pleased to see his form improve!

Beaded
hair and excessive jewellery are now standard fashion statements for male
footballers, but coaches had to draw the line recently when too many players
were holding up the start of games because of the excessive time it took to rid
themselves of their accessories. Brian Clough pondered the question of
footballers’ vanity, on the pony-tailed former England goalkeeper David Seaman
he commented: ”That Seaman is a handsome young man but he spends too much time
looking in his mirror rather than at the ball. You can’t keep goal with hair
like that.”

So if you are
thinking of becoming a coach it’s not just about the glory when your team wins
there are a lot of trials and tribulations in between but the trick is not to
take it all too seriously, well anyway not as seriously as the great football
manager Bill Shankly, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and
death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much,
much more important than that.” Remember that ultimately it’s just a game and
when you are looking for excuses why your team lost in the words of Ronaldo
it’s very simple: “We lost because we didn’t win!”

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