How to coach, according to five great sports coaches
Business is not a sport. But great coaching is just as important to success in the office as on the field. Over the years, HBR has interviewed some of the world’s top athletic coaches. We mined our archives for a few of their best insights that apply to employees and players alike.
Under manager Joe Girardi, the New York Yankees baseball team won their 27th World Series championship title. Girardi has won more than 500 games as a manager. He told us how he coaches players on when to listen to their guts and abandon the plan: “If you think too much, you fail because the game happens too quickly. The key is preparation. The data has to become instinctual.
“You have to lead by example. You ask your players to be prepared mentally and physically, so you have to be prepared. Beyond that, you’ve got to adapt to the type of players you have. If you’ve got a home-run-hitting team, you can’t make them all base stealers, and vice versa.”
Adapting to your players was also a theme for Bela Karolyi, the gymnastics coach whose gymnasts have earned, among other honours, nine Olympic gold medals. “You have to take them individually,” he told us. “Find out what part of their mind is clicking, what part of their character is responding to you, and what’s the one thing you have to avoid.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, the coach of the Manchester United football team, had some considered thoughts on criticism: “Few people get better with criticism; most respond to encouragement instead. So I tried to give encouragement when