Pro­fes­sional coaches make it look easy

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He coaches bas­ket­ball and man­ages base­ball. He can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­

It is a scene we’ve seen a thou­sand times. Pro­fes­sional coaches pa­trolling the side­lines in var­i­ous sports dressed to the nines … well ex­cept for Amer­i­can foot­ball – they wear track suits and polo shirts.

Watch­ing them op­er­ate their benches in high-priced suits, it is easy to tell they know ex­actly what they’re do­ing, what they want to do and when to do it. They con­trol ev­ery sit­u­a­tion they find them­selves in.

Even when they’re jumping and wav­ing their arms with ties flop­ping around like a tree in a wind storm, th­ese coaches make be­ing angry at an of­fi­cial look easy. See, they do all of this with a plan in mind.

They’re re­ally try­ing to look for a call. Get­ting angry is just one way of do­ing so. If that doesn’t work, they’ll switch to a run­ning con­ver­sa­tion with the of­fi­cial.

Th­ese coaches make it look easy. We am­a­teurs can only hope to achieve that level of com­fort when it comes to run­ning our own teams.

Trust me, coach­ing a team in any sport isn’t the eas­i­est task. You’re learn­ing on the fly with each com­mand you make at the be­gin­ning of ev­ery year. There is al­ways some turnover — rarely are you blessed with the same team two years in a row.

Sure, there are some of the same ath­letes from year to year, but not enough that the full team has been learn­ing the same mes­sage for mul­ti­ple sea­sons.

That means coach­ing is not just about know­ing the game and know­ing what you want to do with your team. You have to man­age play­ers, per­son­al­i­ties and in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions par­ents.

You’ve got to learn to trust a part of your­self you may not have trusted be­fore. It’s not easy. In fact, it is prob­a­bly the hard­est part of the whole process.

Choos­ing what to eat for din­ner is the eas­i­est decision in the world by com­par­i­son. Know­ing which player to throw out there seems like the hard­est decision you’ll ever make.

For all in­tents and pur­poses, you’ve got the fate of a dozen-plus peo­ple hang­ing on your ev­ery move. Pro­fes­sional coaches make it look easy when re­ally it is just causes stress.

Throw in par­ents and it’s even worse. Some par­ents want to mi­cro­man­age from the stands. They stand around the locker room dis­cussing line com­bi­na­tions and how the bench should be run, all within earshot of the coach­ing staff.

You’ve seen them at all the are­nas. Those who know more than the coach, but refuse to be ac­count­able and step be­hind the bench them­selves.

It is just another as­pect you have to man­age as a coach. Through it all, you have to stick to your guns and trust you’re do­ing right by your team.

When you’ve come to peace with that, this coach­ing game is pretty fun.

You’ve got to learn to trust a part of your­self you may not have trusted be­fore.

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