What Makes Elite Coaches? Here Is The Answer

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

ORLANDO, Fla. — What techniques allow certain coaches to be the greatest in sports?

Do the best skippers coach by fear and intimidation with a generous supply of profanity laced tirades? Or are the best coaches those who teach in a caring, patient manner but also instill great discipline?

The choice is easy for Pat Williams, a man who has written 48 books with thousands of interviews about why certain coaches and players excel in different sports.

The clear winner is the coach who teaches with a caring mind set toward his athletes.

This type of coach becomes an important father figure to those players as relationships are cemented for life.

The former senior Vice President of the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic has never been a paid coach, but he has had a burning desire to learn all he can about why the elite of the coaching profession raise the performance level of their athletes.

Williams and his wife Ruth are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted from four nations ranging in age from 20-34. One year, 16 of his children were all teenagers.

“I prefer the servant/leader type of coach,” said Williams.

And the epitome of that type of coach is the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, according to Williams.

Wooden led the Bruins to seven national titles in a row from 1966-1973 and 10 NCAA crowns in 12 years from 1964-1975. From 1971-1974, the Bruins won 88 games without a loss.

One of the best servant/leader coaches in college baseball history was the late John Scolinos of Cal. Poly Pomona.

He led the Broncos to three national championships (1976, 1980 and 1983) and retired in 1991 as the winningest coach in NCAA Division II history.

One of Williams’ most important books is called How To Be Like Coach Wooden, a remarkable insight into why the Hall of Fame coach was so successful as Williams interviewed over 800 people to craft this inspiring biography.

 “That doesn’t mean these types of coaches have to be pushovers. As I talked to Coach John Wooden’s former players, they feared him. Even to this day, there is a certain respect/fear there. I felt a little intimidated when I was with him. But there is that certain sense of values he had. He was a gracious, sweet, loving man. But that doesn’t mean he was a lamb chop as a coach.

“You don’t have to be a screamer who is vile and profane and out of control. There is a balance. And by the way, that was coach Wooden’s favorite word — balance.

“It’s not just balance as an athlete but balance in your life. Coach Wooden had a long marriage that was a classic with wife Nell, and he raised his children well. I talked to all of his grandchildren and all of his great grandchildren. They absolutely revered him and adored him.

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