The coach is always an easy target. If your team looks bad, the knee-jerk reaction is always to blame the coach. If players aren’t living up to their potential, must be the coach’s fault. If there’s a key breakdown at a crucial moment in the game, the coach is clearly an idiot. If your team’s fortunes don’t turn around immediately, this coach must not be the right man for the job. If your kid isn’t getting enough playing time, the coach must have no idea what he’s doing.
Professional and collegiate coaches get paid big bucks, and I’m sure many of you would trade places with them in a heartbeat. Not me. No thank you. I’m not sure the paycheck is worth the constant pressure, scrutiny, hatred, name-calling and second-guessing that coaches put up with from fans, players, and media. Even if you can handle it, what about the toll it takes on your family? Every day, your kids get to hear about why you stink at your job. Entire websites are created just to promote and encourage your firing. Your demise is almost imminent from the moment you take the job, because there is no sympathy, no grace, and zero tolerance in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of sports. These days, owners fire coaches like it’s a bodily function.
Let’s say you’ve got thick skin, and can get past all the material pointing out every reason why you’re an imbecile. Good for you. Now all you’ve got to do is take a group of men, women, or children and turn them into winners. Do that by managing several different personalities, varying backgrounds, an assortment of skill levels, and a dizzying array of attitudes. You have to know who to coddle and who to criticize. Who gets treated tenderly and who gets a dose of tough love? Make sure you earn your players respect, but don’t be too hard on them. Keep things fun and entertaining, but not too fun, because then you’ll lose that respect. Keep players happy with minutes and playing time, and you better know how to massage the ego of your stars and high draft picks. And if you happen to be a high school coach, good luck explaining to parents why Timmy didn’t make varsity. That’s a fun conversation.