What makes a great coach?
Michael, the basket is that way!
Some say it is the deep understanding for the fundamentals of the game. Others say it is the ability to instill discipline and determination in their players. And still more think that it is a force of personality that can rally the troops and lead them on to victory. The only thing we know is, that there is no clear cut answer to being a great coach.
Every coach has his/her own individual style, and each coach arrives at his/her style through a long period of study and experimentation. One coach can’t simply copy another coach’s style and expect it to work. Pat Riley can’t become Phil Jackson without a deep understanding of Buddhist philosophy, and very few people can coach like Bobby Knight and still succeed.
What we can do, in our process of becoming a good coach, is to learn from the great ones, and experiment with their techniques. Some will work, but most will fail, and it is in our failures that we will eventually discover our own style of coaching.
Today we will look at one important aspect of coaching, the motivational pre game speech.
I believe the importance of the motivational pre game speech is over dramatized by sports movies. Just compare the videos on this list with the pre game speeches from movies list to see the differences.
However, the motivational pre game speech does serve an important purpose. Players and coaches alike are nervous before most games, and it is important to calm those nerves and instill a sense of confidence before stepping out onto the court or field. Here are a few techniques used by some well known coaches to inspire and motivate their players.
Bill Self speech – Kansas (NCAA)
The nothing to lose, so much to gain approach. And the “forever” factor.
It’s always good to go into a match being the one with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Whether that’s true or not does not matter, it is the state of mind that counts. Bill Self does that by building up the players’ confidence by going over their major accomplishments of the year and the fact that their place in history is already secure. He then talks about how his players will always remember this night, and driving up their internal motivation. The key point to notice here is that he makes no mention of the opponents.
Billy Donovan speech – Florida Gators
“Live in the moment” technique, with high energy.
Same as Bill Self, Billy makes no mention of the opponents at all. It is all about how to be the best team we can be. He also focuses on the “forever” aspect of this game. Instead of saying things will be hard, he uses words like adversity and challenge, which is a positive way of framing difficulties. The high energy denotes a sense of confidence, which he hopes will pass onto his players.
Coach Warren speech- Abilene eagles (HS)
The indirect language technique. And the build up.
He doesn’t ask his players for anything, but tells them that in order to win, they will need heart, courage, and commitment. He also says he doesn’t need to challenge the players to play hard because he knows they will. He gets the message across without making any demands. The energy level of the speech is low for the first 90 seconds, but picks up very quickly in the last 30, and ends with a bang.
John Hufnagel speech – Calgary Stampeders (CFL)
Turning disadvantages into advantages
This team and coach are obviously confident playing an opponent they have beaten, but it is still important to address the positives. He ends his speech by turning the difficulties facing his team into challenges for his team to overcome.
Derrick Moore speech – Georgia Tech
It is your time, your moment.
He delivers a very passionate speech. Dramatized for effect but effective nonetheless. He uses a chant to harmonize the team’s energy and to build up their willingness to fight. To be successful in sports a player needs to be able to use his/her emotions to motivate themselves on the playing field. Often times a person with whom the players have a close emotional bond with, for example a chaplin, is a great choice for a pregame speech. They know which buttons to push to tap into the emotional energy that could make the difference between a win and a loss.
Michael “Pinball” Clemons speech – Argos (CFL)
His personal technique
This will be very difficult for any coach to copy. It seems rehearsed and it’s a bit of showmanship, probably for the cameras as well as for the players. But what’s good about it is that the players know what things to focus on, and those are what the chants are about. Repeat what you want the players to remember over and over again. One of the best ways to get focus is to use a chant that the players can recite to themselves on the field.
Coach Flowers speech – Leland (HS)
The pre written speech. The chant build up.
Not sure if the the speech is taken from somewhere or if he wrote it. He benefits from great energy and a strong voice. The background music is a bit cheesy but can work with the right age group of players. He uses a great line “I am a champion” for the chant, and builds it up very well at the end for a great finish.
What we can learn:
Most of the coaches above use many of the same techniques in their pre game speeches.
1. Stress previous accomplishments to build up confidence
2. Stress what the team needs to do, don’t mention the opponents.
3. The “forever” factor, this game is important and will be remembered.
4. Appeal to a higher purpose. Nationalism/school spirit/fans
The other factors are more of personal choice. You might want to include a chant in the speech to build momentum. You might want to raise the energy level gradually towards a big finish. You could even have background music. These things should be tested and experimented with to see what works with your personal style.
Remember, it is through our failures that we succeed.
Need some motivation, check out these messages from Michael Jordan.