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Why Don't Great Players Make Great Coaches

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  • Why Don't Great Players Make Great Coaches

    Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Ted Williams, Isiah Thomas and Bart Starr were great players who never did much as coaches while Earl Weaver, Sparky Anderson, Phil Jackson, Chuck Noll and Scotty Bowman became great coaches. My question is why don't great players become great coaches? I know there are exceptions but this seems to be a trend in sports.
    “When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.”
    ― Groucho Marx

  • #2
    Coaches can teach athletes to be better and form coherent teams. The great Athletes hardly ever had to teach. How does Shaq teach someone to be seven foot tall and 300 pounds? You don't even have to have been on a college sports team to become a great coach.

    I went to college with a great athlete at McNeese. We were in a few classes together and I observed him student teach for a few days. The PE students were taking PE III which basically allows them to play Basketball on the school court all year long! Where was Lance? He was out there playing with them. That High School wanted to hire him bad, but he had a bit of trouble passing the Louisiana Teacher Exam. Last I heard he was continuing a successful college coaching career!

    It was fun taking classes with the future coaches. Before class one would gripe, did you take part 2 of the exam yet? Another would pipe up, yeah I missed by one point again! Another would chime in I missed by two points. One would look at me and say Richard you are smiling, did you take those two tests yet? Then I got to laugh and say yes! I passed the first one mentioned by 20 points and the second one mentioned by 23 points. Then they would get mad and quit talking to me for a while. It pays to be 40 something years old and taking tests for 19 year olds...

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #3
      Great players focus on playing the game and nothing else.

      Other players analyse how the game is played and can pass that knowledge on.
      The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Thomas Jefferson.

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      • #4
        I'd say there's a difference between players who relied mostly on talent and those who made it mostly through hard work, correct tactics etc.

        The latter usually do make good coaches, although probably not really top class players.
        High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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        • #5
          Chuck Noll, six years as a player for the Brown's and the rest is history.
          "Ask not what your country can do for you"

          Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

          you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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          • #6
            Everyone seems to have hit the nail on the head here already. I'll just add a note on Noll.

            He was a a messenger guard under Paul Brown and thoroughly despised that role. As coach he let Bradshaw call all of his own plays.

            I guess today's quarterbacks are just too damn dumb to do so!
            Regards,
            Dennis
            If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

            Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

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            • #7
              It's hard to teach genius. As Snowgerry mentioned it's those that have to look for every edge they can find in order to get to the top level are the ones that can teach others to get the best from themselves.
              Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

              That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Checkertail20 View Post
                Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Ted Williams, Isiah Thomas and Bart Starr were great players who never did much as coaches
                Wasn't the Great One the general manager for Canada's gold medal winning team some years back?

                Ted Williams is an interesting case. I don't think there was a player in his era who worked harder at mastering his craft. His was relentless and single-minded in his approach to hitting. His failing as a field manager was in the fact that he simply couldn't fathom that not every ball player wasn't as ruthlessly competitive as he was. He had no patience with less than 100% effort, and he took it out on those players.

                Isiah Thomas' failing as a coach is his people skills: like Ted Williams, he was outrageously competitive as a player, and while not the most talented, he was abrasive as hell. He turns players off as much as he turns them on.

                Originally posted by Checkertail20 View Post
                while Earl Weaver, Sparky Anderson, Phil Jackson, Chuck Noll and Scotty Bowman became great coaches. My question is why don't great players become great coaches? I know there are exceptions but this seems to be a trend in sports.
                Phil Jackson was a good player, but not a great player. Same can be said of Joe Torre and Billy Martin. (Martin was crazy so maybe he should get a category all his own. ) Willis Reed was a great player, but a poor coach. Like Williams, Thomas, and even Michael Jordan, they can't imagine that a player isn't overarchingly competitive. It's anathema to them that a player won't give a kidney to make the big play. To them it's natural, but they're a minority: that's why they were great players. The great coaches know how to infuse their charges with extreme competitive desire even when they don't come by it naturally.
                I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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                • #9
                  Because athletic ability has nothing to do with leadership, managing people, or the ability to teach.

                  This is not limited to athletics by any means. Take the work place for example: Employee A is the best technician in the orgainzation, but that doesn't mean they're cut out for a role as an instructor, supervisor, or manager. Completely different skill sets.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
                    Ted Williams is an interesting case. I don't think there was a player in his era who worked harder at mastering his craft. His was relentless and single-minded in his approach to hitting. His failing as a field manager was in the fact that he simply couldn't fathom that not every ball player wasn't as ruthlessly competitive as he was. He had no patience with less than 100% effort, and he took it out on those players.

                    .
                    It is no surprise to anyone that has met Ted Williams (like me) that Ted would fail as a manger of people. He had a salmon fishing camp in New Brunswick and was one of the best salmon fishermen there ever was. However, most of the people who met him here just hated him, to know him is to hate him.

                    Here is one story about Ted. My brother, Fred, is a heliocopter pilot in Newfoundland. Invited for a fishing trip for a four day trip were some very high profile people, one who was Ted Williams. After the first night there, the organizer of the trip went to my brother and asked him to heliocopter Ted around so that they could get him out of their hair. Fred said that those three days with Ted Williams were awful ranking up there with the worst of his life. Ted totally lacked interpersonal skills.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
                      Ted Williams is an interesting case. I don't think there was a player in his era who worked harder at mastering his craft. His was relentless and single-minded in his approach to hitting. His failing as a field manager was in the fact that he simply couldn't fathom that not every ball player wasn't as ruthlessly competitive as he was. He had no patience with less than 100% effort, and he took it out on those players.
                      Players who make the pros are very competitive and have poured their heart and souls into their sport. The difference between them and Ted Williams, Michael Jordan and others great players is they have a gift for what they are doing. Ted Williams had terrific eye hand coordination while Michael Jordan was just flat out gifted. I believe that great players who become coaches can't grasp the fact that most players have limitations.
                      “When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.”
                      ― Groucho Marx

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sparlingo View Post
                        It is no surprise to anyone that has met Ted Williams (like me) that Ted would fail as a manger of people. . . . . Ted totally lacked interpersonal skills.
                        I don't know how true this is, but I'd heard that when he was managing the Washington Senators, when one of their young pitchers was getting knocked around and had to come out, the Splinter shot out from the dugout and screamed right in the kid's face, "I always knew that pitchers were the dumbest people on the planet!" That must have done wonders for the kid's confidence.

                        Originally posted by Checkertail20 View Post
                        Players who make the pros are very competitive and have poured their heart and souls into their sport. The difference between them and Ted Williams, Michael Jordan and others great players is they have a gift for what they are doing. Ted Williams had terrific eye hand coordination while Michael Jordan was just flat out gifted.
                        Ted Williams USMC physicals and vision tests were good, but nothing stellar, and revealed a minor flaw in one eye. Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. His teammate Horace Grant claimed that Jordan was the most competitive person he'd ever met, making even the other professionals seem mellow by comparison -- and you're right: professional athletes are by nature intensely competitive people. Jordan just took it to another level. Was Jordan really more talented than Dominique Wilkins or Julius Irving? Was Ted Williams more talented than Mickey Mantle? I'd say no to both. What set those two apart was their maniacal competitiveness. They wouldn't so much as loose an argument, much less a ball game.
                        I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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                        • #13
                          Why Don't Great Players Make Great Coaches?
                          I think it may have to do with the difference between natural instinctive talent, and skill developed through hard work and study.

                          In Britain we have an interesting example from English football - the Charlton bothers. Both had great success both with their league teams and as players in the national squad. Both later went on to become coaches.



                          The brothers had totally different approaches as players. Bobby (the shorter one) was an instinctive player with natural talent. Jack, on the other hand had little natural talent and had to work much harder than his brother to achieve his success on the field.

                          When they finished their playing careers, both became managers. Jack had considerable success in training and inspiring the players under him. Bobby was a total failure as a coach. His playing success had come through natural talent - something you can't teach.


                          Philip
                          "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."— Bertrand Russell

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
                            I don't know how true this is, but I'd heard that when he was managing the Washington Senators, when one of their young pitchers was getting knocked around and had to come out, the Splinter shot out from the dugout and screamed right in the kid's face, "I always knew that pitchers were the dumbest people on the planet!" That must have done wonders for the kid's confidence.
                            I have heard that Ted had his days when he could be very nice and days when you wanted to stay far away from him. In fairness to Williams he did not have much talent on those Washington teams.

                            Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team.
                            That is actually a myth. Jordan was not cut from the team his coach made him play on the JV team his sophmore year.
                            “When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.”
                            ― Groucho Marx

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                            • #15
                              Good thread!
                              Larry Bird did end up taking the Pacers to the championship in his third year, so he did something right.

                              I think Dean Smith rode the bench for Kansas when he played there and is one of the best college coaches ever.
                              Johnny Majors who played at Tennessee and was runner up in the Heisman Trophy to Paul Hornung won a National Championship with Pitt and had some good years coaching Tennessee.

                              Krzyzewski played at West Point, but I don't think he did much as a player under Bobby Knight, but sure can coach.

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