No Team Wants To Be the Stepping Stone In The Coach’s Career

No team, no athlete wants to be just the stepping stone in the coach’s career.  You may be an incredibly sincere coach, but this perception is hard to overcome. It’s especially hard to overcome if player management is your strength.

Adam Bate has taken a thoughtful look at soccer coach Marco Silva over at Sky Sports site.  He unpacks the reasons for his success and how those very strengths led to his firing.


His success is grounded in sophisticated and knowledgeable training methods, and importantly in his capacity to manage players.


“The first thing about Marco Silva is that he is a good person,” adds Taylor. “He is very fair. Everyone wants to fight for him because he respects each guy on the team. The second thing is that he has also got a strong character. I think that is very important if you want to be a good manager because players need to respect you.”

So why was he fired?

Perhaps this is the ingredient that went missing in Silva’s recipe for success. Once clear that Everton’s advances were not unwelcome, it became harder to buy what he was selling. This is the era of the big idea, where every coach needs a philosophy and every team must be on a journey. When it was obvious Silva wanted to get off the bus, that idea was lost.

Watford have conceded more goals in the final 15 minutes than any other Premier League team this season. Asked to delve deep for their manager, as they had in salvaging a point in stoppage time on the opening weekend against Liverpool, Watford’s players could no longer summon the fight. The ‘little relationships’ of which his former players speak were broken.

Now of course the obvious counterpoint to this perspective is how little loyalty is shown by clubs to coaches.  You can find those examples littered about.

But the point made here is that he lost the players with whom he had built so much trust.  They perceived him to be leaving. The felt they might be the stepping stone in the coach’s career.  As a result the players lost their ability to buy into his powerful capacity to build a shared vision.

Worth thinking about.






Here’s an Example of Growth Mindset

I was watching the evening news the other day and I saw this example of growth mindset.

Did you see the PBS segment about Patrice Banks who learned to be a mechanic well into adulthood?  She then started her own shop targeted at women customers and staffed exclusively by women.


  • “It was rough, this dirty garage with a bunch of men that don’t care, cursing, screaming, yelling at me. But, again, I kept telling myself, like, Patrice, you’re on a mission here. Right? This is just growth, you’re learning. You’re not here for these people, right? You’re here for women and you’re here to learn.”


If you are looking for a great example of growth mindset then give it a watch.

Great out of sports example of growth mindset.


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The Best Want to Get Better

coaching elite athletes







One thing to keep in mind when coaching elite athletes: The best want to get better. Rarely are they complacent or satisfied with where they are. This is a significant part of what makes them the best.  They take pride in their craft.

There is a great article at Training Ground Guru about Rene Meulensteen’s coaching process with some of the best players in the world that illustrates this point.  Meulensteen served as the “skill development coach” at Manchester United under Ferguson. He was hired to improve the skills of the first team which employed some of the best players in the game.

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Weekend Links: Sports and Money

Weekend links to sports and money:


Nadal at the French Open The New Yorker

Confidence is crucial for any athlete, but especially a tennis player. After all, he or she has no one else to turn to. The place to look is always inward. It’s existential. Tennis players call it belief, and they talk about it, mostly to themselves, all the time.

Conflict Management The Blizzard Football Quarterly

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The Success Equation: Skill Plus Luck Equals Success

Success Equation: Skill Plus Luck

success equation: skill plus luckHave you read Michael Maboussin’s book  —The Success Equation?

I have been reading different Michael Maboussin  for a long time. He is a very successful investor who often writes about luck and its impact on investing and sports.

I find the intersection of these two disciplines fascinating.

Well, he is back out with another persuasive article. This time Maboussin presents compelling information on the need for more and more luck as the skill level of competitors  increases. If skill intensifies in a discipline than we find ourselves back in a dynamic in which luck comes into play.

He calls this the “paradox of skill”:

“..This is one of the lessons of the paradox of skill. Getting better in an absolute sense doesn’t matter if it’s offset by the competition. Hitters today are much better than they were in the past, but so are the pitchers. The improvement is obscured by the interaction”

The article also touches briefly on Anders Ericcson’ work on deliberate training in Peak.  Basically he is reminding us that the increase in skill is due to a tremendous increase in training.
The entire article is worth your time. You can read it article here.
Updated: Here’s a podcast from the capitalallocatorpodcast in which he speaks more about the paradox of skill.





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After Your Best Player Retires

Consider how hard it is coach your team to great results after your best player retires.  Tim Duncan, one of best and most consistent players in the history of the league, retired this year. He played for the San Antonio Spurs.

The Guardian looks at the remarkable coaching job Gregg Poppovich has done with the San Antonio Spurs this year.

Most franchises would be expected to have a down season, but the Spurs continued to excel.

Popovich has won NBA coach of the year just three times in his 21 seasons. Likewise, LeBron James has only been deemed league MVP four times in 14 seasons and isn’t even a finalist for the award this year. Both men are so consistently excellent that there’s an urge among voters to almost punish them for it and feel the need to honor some other coach or player this year because surely Pop and LeBron will have more opportunities to win individual awards down the road. But if all was fair, each man would have double-digit trophies and no one could rightly complain. Maybe the better idea is to just name the NBA’s coach of the year award the Pop Trophy and then it won’t matter who they give it to.

after your best player retiresPoppovich is one of my favorite coaches of all time.

I’ve written about him before here and here.

Weekend Links: March Madness Requires Mental Toughness

I’ve watched a little of the NCAA basketball tournament this year and read quite a bit about the teams, women’s as well as men’s, that are playing. Two things have stood out to me.  One is the tremendous importance of mental toughness in making it deep into the tournament.  The other, just how significant a role fundamentals play in getting to the next level. Standing out matters to kids and parents, but you really need to be well versed in the fundamentals to be great.

This week’s links focus in on these two factors beginning with the tremendous resilience shown by the Mississippi State women’s team. We also see the focus on fundamentals and the mental toughness of perennial contender UNC men, who won their game by rebounding well when all else was failing them.

On to the links…

March Madness  Mental Toughness

mental toughness






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Women Coaching in the NBA

Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner, recently endorsed the idea that we will see women coaching in the NBA.

Specifically that there will be a female head coach in the NBA.

The key, he states, is to create a pipeline by which women have the relevant experience.

“There definitely will,” Silver said about female head coaches. “And I think it is on me to sort of insure that it happens sooner rather than later.”

“I would make all the same points in terms of being a head coach in the NBA that there is no physical reason why women can’t officiate in the NBA,” Silver added. “I think it is more a function of the fact that they haven’t been in the pipeline to become NBA officials.”

Of course this means there may not be a woman for some period of time. But some women are getting closer to the qualifications.

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