Coaching in the moment

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been wanting to write something on this idea of “coaching in the moment” for a while now. What do I mean by “coaching in the moment”? Well, to start, it is something some coaches can do while others can’t. Coaches who can “coach in the moment” have a keen pulse for the game, a sense of flow, they are able to react immediately to a player error or an error by the officials or a new/changing circumstance and mostly, these coaches have the ability to be with their players in the moment.

When I think about which coaches have this ability, I think of the following:

  • Bill Belichick
  • Mike Tomlin
  • Jeff Fisher
  • Mike Holmgren (of past years, not 2008)
  • Tony Sparano
  • Mike Smith
  • John Harbaugh
  • Jeff Fisher
  • Ken Whisenhunt (except when he plays the Patriots)
  • John Fox
  • Sean Payton
  • Tom Coughlin (now, Coughlin does get an occasional clueless look, but erases it fast in favor of finding answers).
  • Mike Shanahan (usually)
  • Andy Reid
  • Mike McCarthy (2007)

These coaches have an ability to mentally search their brains for answers quickly. And if they can’t come up with an answer themselves, they know who to talk to and what to do to at least try something different. They won’t settle for the blank stare, the deer in the headlights look. There are some coaches who resort to this look way too often and these are the coaches who simply aren’t in the moment…they aren’t on top of things. Below are some of the coaches more prone to this glossed over stare:

  • Mike Sherman (king of this)
  • Lovie Smith (just behind Sherman here)
  • Brad Childress
  • Rod Marinelli
  • Wade Phillips (rarely has a look OTHER than deer in the headlights)
  • Romeo Crennel
  • Marvin Lewis
  • Norv Turner
  • Herm Edwards
  • Dick Jauron
  • Mike McCarthy (2008)

When I look at the above 2 lists, I would say that I mostly wouldn’t have a problem if any of the coaches from the first list coached my team. Conversely, I wouldn’t want any of the guys on the second list as head coach of my team. I recognize that most of the coaches on the 2nd list have losing records but I’d say that their inability to coach in the moment contributes at least in part to their team not winning enough. One thing about the first list of coaches is that with each of these guys, if there are player errors, you know heads will roll and the players will be held accountable. With the second list, there is a good chance accountability is less of a coaching priority.

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6 Responses to “Coaching in the moment”

  1. Стихи о любви Says:

    It’s very intresting information!!!
    Thank’s you!

  2. Trav Says:

    Just some random thoughts about the blank stare coaching syndrome:

    *Is it lack of “mental processing power” to react to situations in the game? Would someone like Sherman or Lovie have the same stare if they went to McDonalds, ordered a Big Mac, fries and a Coke, only to be told that they are out of Coke. Would he not be able to make a quick switch to Diet Coke or Sprite without a timeout or a 15 minute halftime so he could confer with his assistants?

    *Is it a lack of preparation? I have never put a football game plan together and don’t think game planning for basketball is an apples-to-apples comparison, but in general, isn’t wise in any situation to have options and adjustments you may have practiced during the week to mitigate the scheme that the D is presenting? I may be drastically simplifiying this, but there is no drawing a play up in the huddle: A-Rodg with his palm out, using his other hand to tell Driver, Jennings, et. al. a route to run; so would there not be need to be prepared for as many possibilities as the D could throw out there? Or is it a matter of time and processing power of the players to be able to handle so much information and options?

    *Does a lack of imagination or preparation by the head coach automatically indict the OC and DC (and all other asst. coaches for that matter)? How much veto power does the HC have in these situations where, for example, the OC wants to exploit something he sees, but the HC is so conservative that he overrules? Or the DC wants to put more pressure on, but the HC is too afraid of giving up a big play? Is it more likely that the HC fills his staff with like-minded coaches that are so close to the game plan that they can’t think outside of it?

    *Finally, looking at the list, it seems that the jump from coordinator/assistant coach to Head Coach is Grand Canyon-esque. One would think that being a decent OC/DC would translate to some HC success given situations you may have experienced, but the list seems to indicate otherwise (see Crennel, Lewis, etc.). I think the era of college coaches to the NFL is done based on the 2007 debacle with Petrino and others, so this leaves the coordinator staff as the next head coach prospects, short of the re-treads and those that are in the booth now.

  3. Cindy V Says:

    Here’s a tidbit from Sports Illustrated online I found this morning.

    There will be no Cowher Power for the Jets. Bill Cowher informed the team last night he is not interested in their head-coaching job, and it could be because he doesn’t want to coach Brett Favre. The former Steeler coach was the clear-cut favorite to replace Eric Mangini among Jets fans, and the team’s ownership. Now, Woody Johnson must move on to Plan B. Talks between the Jets and Cowher never advanced past the preliminary stage. Sources close to Cowher said he did not want to have Favre as his quarterback, and that he also wanted to bring in people he was familiar with to handle personnel. A source familiar with Cowher’s thinking said before last night’s decision came down that the former Steeler boss would have to receive assurances from the Jets that the 39-year-old Favre no longer was in the picture before agreeing to take control.

    Comments anyone?

  4. awhayes Says:

    Trav – important questions you ask. Especially the ones about the assistant coaches/coordinators. Where are they in the critical moments – is McCarthy open to their advice/assistance?

    Cindy – very interesting – I’ll post that article when I get a minute. (And sorry for thinking you were Joe’s wife…Joe’s wife also comments here!)

  5. Joe Says:

    What is so bad about being accused of being my wife – wait nobody answer that …

  6. NFL.com reporting Dom Capers interviewing « packergeeks Says:

    [...] original “clueless face” coaches. I remember thinking about him as I wrote a post on coaching in the moment a few weeks back. That doesn’t mean he would be a bad d-coordinator and he does have solid [...]

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