A great

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

coach needs to be a


Just the other day I put on my Dr. Phil hat and asked a coach at Greenville High what makes a good coach.

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Thinking about what was said that day and now, I'm convinced that good coaches no matter whether they coach t-ball or special teams in the National Football League need to at least have a psychology degree in hand to properly coach anyone in this day.

In order to get the most out of an athlete coaches now must be able to dissect each player's brain and find that one spark to get them motivated to play.

Sure you would not have seen Vince Lombardi or Paul &#8220Bear” Bryant spend much time wondering how to connect with his players in that special way to get them to play.

Most of their former players spoke about how intimidating these two individuals were. Even before anyone played for these two men, they were respected and feared.

And after that athlete's playing days were over, these two men were still respected and feared.

There are no coaches like that anymore.

In fact when I was in college I talked to one coach about how the game had changed since his playing days and the first thing he talked about was the mental makeup of a player. He said that athletes just aren't as mentally tough as they used to be.

That statement took me back because I was expecting to hear that the athletes were not in as good a physical condition or something else. But after a few more years of just studying athletes on all levels, what that coach said was and still is true to this day.

So is there anyone to blame for this change?

No, not really. Our lifestyle as a people has changed.

We live in a fast-food, need results instantaneously, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 world.

Athletics in schools also has seen a change.

About 30 years ago children expected to take part in some kind of extracurricular activity from softball or football.

Now, our children see getting a job in order to pay their cell phone bill or that new Xbox 360 game or PlayStation 3 game as an extracurricular activity.

So now, more than ever, coaches at the middle and high school levels have to recruit kids to play sports.

And that's where the psychologist in a coach starts to come out. Rather than being just Coach Joe, they now are Dr. Phil trying to reach deeply into that child's psyche to understand what makes him or her click.

There are so many coaching clinics around the world to teach the Xs and Os of a game, but don't be surprised if you see more psychologists offer their expertise in how to coach the game.

Late Hall of Famer Yogi Berra summed up baseball perfectly when he said, &#8220Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.”

I think you could say that for any sport now more than ever.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.