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5 Characteristics of Successful Coaches

Kevin Eastman, NBA assistant coach and owner, Kevin Eastman Basketball

A good friend who is an excellent high school coach asked me, "What are the five most important characteristics someone needs to be a success in this business?" Needless to say, that sent my mind in motion, as I'm always curious about what makes people successful in their fields. In fact, much of my reading revolves around this topic.

I came up with different sets of 5's each time I thought about this, though several consistently made the list. One or more are characteristics that I think may be overlooked.

1. Respect I believe that the greater respect the coach commands, the easier it is to ensure buy-in from his or her players. And the more often you can get your team to buy in, the more you're going to see them do what you want them to do. I've always tried to gain respect by outworking others in the business and trying to learn as much as I can at the place and position I'm in. Work ethic and this continuing search for knowledge have been keys to my ability to gain respect.

2. Relationships I believe relationships are the foundation for success in any field. As a coach, you need to get to know your team, get to know about your team, talk to your players in good times and bad, let your players know you care about them, and develop a trust with your players.

3. Curiosity It seems to me that the most successful people in any business have an insatiable intellectual curiosity about their field. They talk to the best in the business, they read about others, they listen to CDs and DVDs, they want to know what the best are doing and how it can relate to them and their programs, and they are curious to know what you know and how it can fit in to enhace their program or business.

4. Ability to motivate Motivation is an aspect of coaching that requires coaches to constantly "read" what's needed for their team and any given player on a daily basis. It also requires a great deal of thought and study in order to find new ways to accomplish these tasks. Find out what makes a player tick and then create ways to motivate him to get the most out of him each day. And be able to recognize when it's a new day that needs a new motivator -- even for the same player who responded yesterday!

5. Choosing the right job Make sure you know all you can about a job before taking it. I've often said that you have to find out if the expectations of the job exceed the reality of the job. Don't jump at a job that sounds good (to you or to others) or has a certain perceived prestige without learning all you can about the expectations and, frankly, why the job is available. This process takes significant soul searching, but it's extremely important. No one can be successful at a place that doesn't have or can't create an environment to succeed. Remember, too, that the place may be great, and you might even seem to be a good fit, but because of the timing, you need to pass it by.







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