4 out of 4 stars
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Coaching sports teams is a heck of a task to undertake. For a great coach it means dealing with numerous people and molding them not only into great players but great people as well. Even at the adult level, a selfish person with bad sportsmanship can ruin a whole team. Why Not, Coach? by Gregory Ryan is a semi-brief (less than 100 page) guide to being a great coach, focusing less on the sport and more on how you as a coach interact with the players, their parents (when applicable) and other teams. The book hardly mentions specific sports, and when it does it's only as an example, so it applies across all team sports.
"No player left behind" is one of Gregory's main points throughout and it's the phrase he uses to begin the book. This not only means giving every player time on the field/court, it also means learning about each player, earning their trust and helping them grow in both skill and confidence. This begins with accepting only players who are good enough to play and those who may not be as good but show potential.
Another key piece Gregory discusses is the importance of a support system. He describes it as a triangle with the coach and parents at the bottom two points and the player at the top. If a coach is fantastic but the player has unsupportive parents, the player won't be the best (s)he can be. This is the same with terrific, supportive parents and an abusive coach as well. Gregory has suggestions for how a coach can involve parents, some of which I found particularly great, such as inviting parents and family to some practices. This not only allows the parents to support their kid, it also lets them see what their kid is doing and become a part of it.An effective coach is one who is not obsessed with winning but will do his best to motivate his entire team to want to win.
The one wonky part of this book was its promotion of the author's website. The concept of the website is great - it would give coaches a place to coordinate with players, update them with information and let their parents (or other loved ones) keep up as well. However, when I looked up the website it didn't exist. While the author did say website was under development, the book's copyrights are from 2010 and 2015. If there was even just a page that said "coming soon" with information and a place to sign up for an email when the site is complete I'd understand, but that's totally not the case here.
The book doesn't get incredibly specific often, but it does a good job listing some of the higher-level concepts of a good coach. As I read it I was often reminded of Gordon Bombay, the reluctant coach in The Mighty Ducks movies. Once he became a good coach, he won games by inspiring his players and playing their strengths, not by only having the best of the best and yelling at everyone to win. His players became better hockey players, sure, but they also became better people as well. I'd rate Why Not, Coach? 3.5 stars if I could, but without half scores I feel it's more deserving of 4 out of 4 stars than 3. I absolutely love that it's so focused on positivity, and I hope Gregory's lessons lead to lots of confident, supported players in the future. While it's recommended for coaches, parents and players I really feel like it's best for coaches by far. Parents may get some use out of it as well, though, particularly what to look for in a good coach.
Why Not, Coach ?
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