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The Playbook - A coach's rules for life - Part 2

I recently watched an excellent documentary on Netflix called 'The Playbook - A coach's rules for life.'  They interview some of the top coaches in the world and each shares 5-6 of their rules for success that apply not just to sports but also to life.  Last week's blog was Part 1 including the life rules for Doc Rivers and Jill Ellis.  This week features the rules for life for 2 additional legendary coaches:

José Mourinho - he is considered to be one of the greatest professional soccer managers of all time. José has won 25 senior trophies during his time in charge of FC Porto, Inter Milan, Chelsea (over two spells), Real Madrid and Manchester United.  Here are José's rules for life:

1. Understand your audience

When forming his FC Porto team, the team was in a bad state. The team needed to be restructured to rebuild their strength and identity. José knew the audience in Porto needed a team that represented the values of their people. He began recruiting local boys who may not have had much experience, but had the drive and mentality of the people they were playing for. The new profile of the team was a huge part of their success.

2. If you are prepared for the worst, you are prepared

The team were all together watching the draw for the 2003-04 UEFA Champions League Draw. At the time, Manchester United were considered the best team. José thought if they had got Manchester United in the draw, the team would be disappointed. He tried to create an atmosphere where everybody wanted Manchester United in the draw. He expressed his want for Manchester United daily. So when Manchester United were picked out of the draw for FC Porto, the team were undeniably excited. However, getting MU in the draw is a great challenge. José prepared the team for what was in fact the worst situation by changing their mindset. 

3. The underdog attack

In their match with Manchester United, the team’s positive embrace of the challenge set before them, along with their drive and motivation allowed them to oust MU. While the team may not necessarily have been more skilled than their opponents, their ambition is what drove them to success.

4. Some rules are meant to be broken

José explains how he was banned from being on the field or interacting with the Chelsea team during one of their matches. José being José, denied the rules and waited for the team in the dressing room. The team knew José was there for them. “We won the game, but it’s not about that. What I did in that dressing room, was something I’m not proud of because it was against the rules. But I’m proud of it as a leader and a player’s friend. I did it for my boys.”

5. The train doesn’t stop twice

José had an offer to coach Real Madrid. “People used to say that the train doesn’t stop twice. So I thought it may be the best thing for my career to make that movement.” While a great opportunity, Jose was incredibly emotional about leaving the team. His dream was to win the championships in the three biggest leagues in Europe, and he couldn’t give up that chance.

6. Don’t coach the player, coach the team

When José was at Real Madrid, they had a great team, including one of the greatest players – Cristiano Ronaldo. ”Sometimes you have to move pieces of the chess to try to create the best solution for the team.” The players are special talents, but without the team they cannot succeed. “I don’t coach football players, I coach football teams.’

Patrick Mouratoglou - a professional tennis coach most famously known for being Serena Williams’ coach since 2012.  Here are the coaching rules he lives by:

1. Your greatest weakness can become your biggest strength

Patrick touches on his experience as a young child who had social anxiety. He was so afraid of talking to people that he would sit silently in class. But while he did this, he learnt how to read people’s emotions and body language. As he grew up to become a tennis coach, he used this skill to coach his athletes. He was able to get in the mind of the player and notice how they are feeling based on their movements and body language. His weakness became one his biggest strengths while coaching.

2. Never be afraid to get fired

Patrick says “a good coach can never be afraid to get fired. Sometimes you have to take risks. You have to feel free to do what you should do. If you’re scared, you’re not strong. The player would feel it. If you’re afraid to get fired, you will end up telling your player what they want to hear. The same goes for when Serena Williams’ had contacted Patrick to be her coach. He was completely honest with her and was not scared to lose his job in case he said something to offend her. 

3. Mistakes are inevitable but don’t let them define you

While recounting Serena Williams’ $17,000 fine at the US Open Patrick says, “Failure and frustration are the best things that can happen to you if you handle them the right way. We learn by making mistakes, and it is difficult but it’s not what defines you.”

4. Emotions are the worst advisors

Coaching is understanding the other person’s feelings. You need to connect with your players. It’s not easy, and you’re going to make mistakes because there’s alot of emotions involved. When you’re full of emotions you end up not being a good coach. Always put the emotion apart, and make sure it is not a decision you have made because of the emotion you feel.

5. Let them know they’re not alone

When players tank a match, it is often because they are not confident in themselves, they have doubts about their talent. It’s the fear of losing the only thing that counts for them – their talent. When your player knows you just want them to be better, and know you’re on their side, their performance will improve.

6. A good lie can become the truth

Even the player who is the most ambitious player on the planet, when doubts come into their mind, their confidence is affected. As a coach you have to say the right thing to build their confidence – even if it may be a lie. Patrick talks about a similar situation with Serena Williams’ wimbledon match when she was not performing well. He lied to her about her positive stats because he knew that if she thought her stats were good, the day after she would play better. “I had to remind her what she is. Nothing could stop her after that, she won the tournament. The lie became her reality.”

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