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Are former players better coaches?

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Several years ago, I asked my high school baseball coach about his high school career as a baseball player. I was surprised when he told me he never actually played baseball in high school. Instead, he studied the game seriously over the years. Whenever we disagreed with his practice and game-time decisions, as well as his coaching style, I and my teammates thought his coaching abilities were limited due to his lack of hands-on experience as an athlete. In these situations, it makes me think if people who have actually played the game are more qualified to become coaches. Is there a way to scientifically prove that a former athlete is better suited to become a coach than someone who hasn’t had any real-game experience?

Former athletes are much more qualified to coach. There are several levels in playing any particular game. There will be a different approach for a city recreation league or the church ball, compared to the NBA, college or high school competitions. It makes sense that the best coaches are the one who excelled in the level they are coaching. An example is Steve Spurrier. During his college days, he was a Heisman Trophy winner. No doubt he’s one of the best college football coaches. He has a competitive nature that extended to his approach on the sidelines. In the next level at the NFL, Spurrier is not popular for any accomplishments as a coach or a player.

You might be thinking if I’m implying that unless this person has experienced coaching professionals, he has no right to be a pro coach and likewise for the college and high school athletics. Look up the coaches leading the teams in NFL, MLB, NBA and NCAA. How many of them have actually played the sport they are coaching at that level? (I will save that for another discussion.)

Obviously, there will always be a few exceptions. There are coaches who are like CEO types who manage their teams like they were managing a public company. However, I suppose the records will show that there are coaches who devote all their blood, sweat and tears needed for his team to compete at a certain level. These coaches have a bigger empathy for those people from whom he also expects the same standards. That is the kind of investment that Phil Jackson pours into his team that makes them win each championship.

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