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Eight Tips for Becoming A Better Coach

Jon Gruden is best known as a Super Bowl winning football coach and the voice of Monday Night Football. But he’s also dedicated himself to helping coaches at all levels of the sport and regularly spends time talking with high school coaches about the game.

At USA Football’s recent national conference, he offered coaches eight tips for becoming a better coach.

They were presented in this article on the USA Football website. They apply well to all sports, not just football, and for coaches at all levels.

1. Recruit your own school.

Here Gruden stresses the importance of getting the students in your school excited to join your team and play your sport. By showing interest in welcoming newcomers and asking them to join your squad, you can grow program and sometimes find a diamond in the rough.

2. Effort, listen, communicate

Gruden explains he used these three words with his players and coaching staff alike. For effort, he says you can’t demand effort unless you’re willing to give it and there’s always room to do a little more. He then says you can always learn something new, if you’re willing to listen. And third, he stresses the importance of old-fashioned face-to-face communication with players, fellow coaches, parents, and administrators.

3. Offseason

Gruden feels too many coaches overlook the offseason. He says it’s the perfect time to work on practice plans and drills, in addition to conditioning programs and research.

4. Staff evaluation

Honestly evaluating who is helping you is a key part of coaching, according to Gruden. Know what their strengths are and how to best utilize those. Most importantly, make sure everyone is on the same page and committed to the same goals.

5. Plan for the worst

The only sure thing in athletics is that something is going to go wrong. Figure out ahead of time how you’re going to deal with adversity, such as an injury, bad call, or bad weather.

6. Presentation matters

Gruden says some coaches are great at preparation but then fail to present their plan to players properly. “The players fall asleep. The presentation’s terrible. They can explain it, they can’t teach it. They can prepare it, but they can’t teach it. I ask you to think about your preparation: how intense is it, and then how do I deliver the message so our players can absorb it, and believe in it?”

7. The four “E’s”

He says it all comes down to effort and execution combined with enthusiasm and intensity.

8. Keep the coaching world strong

Gruden’s message boils down to look for help from those who came before you and help those who follow after you. “You know, if you’re a young coach—a first- or second-year coach—there’s no way you have all the answers,” he says. “There’s no way. I thought I did. But I challenge you young coaches to find a veteran coach and seek knowledge, seek wisdom, learn the game. And if you’re a veteran coach, open your arms to these young guys and teach them the game. But we’ve got to keep this game strong, and it starts with the coaches that are here today.”

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