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What Makes A Good Coach?

What Makes A Good Coach?

Alright guys, we’ve done a lot of talk recently about technique, clubs, fundraising and all other types of things that go into making a successful, smooth running program, but we’ve yet to talk about any of the people in charge.  A good coach often spends a lot of time, effort, and dedication into developing his or her team, and making sure the athletes are progressing, and constantly working toward both team and individual goals. Coaches to me, fall a lot of ways in line with your public school teachers.  It is often a thankless job, the work doesn’t stop once practice is over for the day or week, in many more cases than not, they’re doing it for free, or if they do get paid that money ends up going right back into the program. The big question here is why, WHY do they do their job?  The simple answer, they love it. They love helping, teaching, guiding, and pushing the multiple young adults they come in contact with to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be.  

Reasons Your Coach May Be Hard On You

  1. Because he or she wants better for you.  Even if you’re seemingly the best kid on the team, in the county, district, state, or even one of the best in the country, there is always something you could do better.  No one is perfect, and the downfall of any good athlete is when they not only think, but believe they are exempt from hard work, small details, and going the extra mile. When you’re working what feels like extremely hard in practice and your coach yells at you to push harder, your first thought may be “Wow, what an asshole” but pick your head up and just keep going.  Going hard even when you think you have nothing left is imperative toward your growth. Don’t quit because your mind tells you it is the right thing to do. The funny thing about the human mind is it isn’t geared toward growth; it is geared toward protecting you from what’s uncomfortable. The problem here is, every goal you’ve ever had, anything you’ve ever wanted, isn’t going to come to you from doing the same thing you’ve always done.  Even when they seem brash, listen to your coach, they’re only trying to help you become a better individual.  

  1. Because he or she wants better for you both in wrestling and in life.  Yes this is more or less an extension of the first one, but I feel it merits repeating that a good coach not only wants to build tough, coachable athletes, but also strong, capable and disciplined adults as well.  A good coach should constantly push your limits. This is a way for you to learn that the only limit you have is the one you set for yourself. We have talked numerous times about wrestling’s transferable skills to live and this is no different.  Why let continuous improvement stop in the wrestling room? Why not drag that kind of work ethic into your class work, your job, or any other outside hobbies you may have? The goal is to be the best you that you can be in all aspects of your life, not just in wrestling, but we can let it start with wrestling and bleed out from there.  A good coach should always be there to remind you of that.  

A Good Coach To A Great Coach

John Wooden, one of the all-time greats to coach basketball, and I believe to be one of the all-time great coaches across sports once said, “A good coach can change a game, a great coach can change a life.”  This hits home for me when I coach. My job is to win, but it sure as hell doesn’t stop there. Great coaches win, and they do so by positively impacting their athlete’s lives. Great coaches don’t just teach great game strategies, or moves they teach transferable, universal skills that transcend the sport into everyday life.  Things like work ethic, punctuality, respect, recognizing weaknesses, building habits to cope with stressful situations, and many others are things that if you learn and exercise in practice and out of it, you’ll be both a successful athlete, and a successful adult. 

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Qualities Worth Searching For

Life Advice- A great coach will always give you advice, not only for your wrestling but also for a better quality of life.  This goes directly back to our comments on transferability of lessons learned from sports. A great coach is a guiding force, and in more cases than not, wrestling isn’t the only thing their brain has learned in their time.

Time Investment- Another sign of a great coach is the massive time investment they make to their athletes, club, and any other coaching responsibilities they may have.  A big outliner in a coach’s job is to take the time he was gifted, and gift it back to an athlete for nothing more than the betterment of that individual.  

A Good Friend- Last but certainly not least, a great coach should be looked at as a friend.  That being said, he or she is a coach first and friend second, don’t damage that friendship by doing things you know are unacceptable.  I’ve known many a coach to give athletes rides to and from practices and tournaments, given them a place to stay, and helped them pay for school, tournaments and equipment.  They do all this because they want to see you succeed. If you are willing to do what is necessary, regardless of what obstacles may be in your way, I guarantee you that there is a coach who will help you achieve your goal.  A great coach is someone who you can confide in about troubles and struggles, they’re a shoulder to lean on when things get tough, and most importantly, you should know that they will always have your back. It’s just what they do.


Now not all of these things are a standard per se, just some things I’ve noticed and done myself in my coaching career.  If you feel like your coach doesn’t fit the mold, sit them down and talk to them. That will probably alleviate most issues.  If not maybe it is time to find a new coach or program. I’d beg to differ however that most coaches aren’t as bad as you think.  Just remember, next time you think they’re hard on you, it is only because they want what’s best for you. 


Fundamentals are crucial to success regardless of what level you are at. Chael Sonnen was one of the best wrestlers to enter into MMA, and he used his fundamental wrestling to get there! WRESTLING FUNDAMENTALS FROM THE BAD GUY BY CHAEL SONNEN  HAS WHAT YOU NEED!