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Do former athletes make the best coaches?

Katharine Merry | 07:42 UK time, Thursday, 9 April 2009

Do those who have been successful playing sport at the highest level make the best coaches?

It's a question many football fans have been asking since Newcastle appointed Alan Shearer as manager.

We also discussed the matter/issue on BBC 5 Live's London Calling programme last month, particularly in relation to Charles van Commenee, the new head coach of UK Athletics who was forced to end his competitive career at the age of 18 because of injury.

Just because you are good at sport doesn't mean you will be good at teaching it. Yes, you can have a sound knowledge base from what you have learnt from your own coaches but, when it comes to being a successful coach, ex-athletes run the risk of flying by their reputation rather than the knowledge they have.

Alan ShearerIn football, you can't get a better example for both sides of this coin than the Charlton brothers. Bobby was the far better player, but failed at lower league coaching whereas Jack - arguably a weaker player - was a tremendous coach/manager.

Oddly, football clubs who bring in foreign managers - the likes of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger or Liverpool with Rafa Benitez - do so based on their coaching ability, while those who appoint home-grown managers - like Newcastle with Shearer - do it based on playing ability.

Athletics is peppered with former stars who have an input into athletes' careers, either as coaches or mentors. But the majority of athletes have coaches that never been stars themselves.

Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey both achieved phenomenal success with coaches who were students of the sport but had never hit the heights themselves.

There is a difference between experience and knowledge. So what skills does a good coach need?

To me, good coaching is about helping athletes to understand themselves, where they want to be, and helping them to get there. This means having knowledge of the sport and good communication skills.

In my experience the best coaches were the ones who took the time to get to know me as an individual, learning about my strengths and weaknesses.

Athletes are by nature blinkered and focused on their own careers. Does this mean they will take what could be described as selfish attributes into coaching and only teach what they think is right?

Some of the best coaching seems to come from a combination of experience at the highest level of sport and experience from years of coaching.


Merry and ChristieLinford Christie was coached throughout his career by Ron Roddan, whose own sprinting career peaked with an appearance in a Middlesex county final in the 1960s.

With help from Ron, Linford coached me and Darren Campbell to Olympic medals and the combination of knowledge and experiences from both of them together was priceless.

Now Linford is coaching on his own, with Ron as a sounding board, using all that he has learnt from him over the years.

Another successful coaching duo is Lloyd Cowan and Christine Bloomfield, who work with Christine Ohuruogu. Both were international athletes in their day but clearly have a great blend together that helps their athletes be far more successful than either of their coaches ever was.

Charles van CommeneeShould therefore any person wanting to come into coaching, regardless of there sporting achievements, be subject to a period of apprenticeship? I know Sport England and UKA are now really putting an emphasis on coaching education and development.

I do believe ex-athletes can make excellent coaches and make a valuable contribution to the development of coaching.

However sometimes too much of an assumption is made from having been there and done it. This doesn't automatically make an effective coach.

Any person that can add to the support system of an athlete to develop them into the best they can be is a good thing.

Let's just make sure we develop and support the backbone of sport in this country and never overlook coaching talent from non-elite athletes.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    What a great blog...Good points made.Just into work and read this and it has given me thought for the day, and a discussion topic over lunch!

  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog. If any example is needed of how non-elite athletes can become elite coaches, just look at Jose Mourinho.

    However, you do seem to contradict yourself somewhat when talking about the Charlton brothers, perhaps because you are trying to avoid putting either of them down?

    "Bobby was the far better player... whereas Jack - arguably a weaker player..."

    How was Bobby "far" better if Jack was only "arguably" weaker?

  • Comment number 3.

    Very interesting and totally agree. My example would be Tony Adams, a great player in his day but whilst he's done ok in assistant coaching roles, when it has come to stepping up to the managers job, both his spells at Wycombe and Portsmouth have been less than successful.

  • Comment number 4.

    Interesting article - particularly the point about the nature of a sportsperson and their chosen sport and how they focus on themselves. During the development phase of a sportsperson the relationship and communication is key to developing technique and performance.

    But once an individual achieves a level of professional/international success the role shifts to more mentoring than coaching.

    England cricket is a case in point the ECB bring in a coach who never played international cricket whereas Mr Flowers (originally the batting coach) could be seen more as a mentor who has been there, seen it and done it.

  • Comment number 5.

    Do former athletes make the best journalists? :-)

    Seriously, would be interested to hear your thoughts. Did you have to serve an apprenticeship reporting for a local paper? If not, how do the wheezing middle-aged hacks in your office feel about you continuing your fast-tracking into another career?

  • Comment number 6.

    I think there is a sort of inbuilt and totally unfair suspicion of any players who becomes coaches. There is no reason why a great player can not have the managerial skills to become an excellent coach or manager - but the media seems to target this notion of 'players cant become managers' which only adds to their pressure and begins the witchhunt from day one.

    For example: Martin Johnson was an amazing Captain who commanded respect the world over. For him to transfer to becoming a Manager is by no means a step beyond him - but it will take/and is taking time. Alan Shearer is the only man for the Newcastle job because they need something of a miracle - and so the outside bet is their only option. Also he is in a win-win situation there, and so he is the only person who could lead the team without scrutiny and ridiculous pressure. he will forever be a god there - irrespective of what happens.

    A Manager to a certain extent is only as good as the players he has to choose from afterall. If the players/sprinter/whoever arent simply good enough - then it is their fault, not the scape-goated boss. I applaud the Middlesborough Chairman for standing by Southgate, as sacking him wouldnt help - but backing him might..

  • Comment number 7.

    It's always assumed that good players will make average coaches, and the pundits come out with all the stuff about "skill not making you a good teacher" etc. But it works both ways: a good player can be a good coach.

    I know he's only been there since December, but Zola seems to be doing pretty well at West Ham.

    I don't think coaching ability has a lot to do with skill in the game to start with.

  • Comment number 8.

    The best example is probably Sir Alex. I never saw him play but my Dad says he was never a great player at Rangers, but he tried very hard.
    As a manager you couldn't say he has been anything other than Great.

  • Comment number 9.

    A good really good article, it seems to me that the best Coach's are those who acknowledge that they don't know it all and are ready to work as part of a team or with their own mentor ie. Christie/Roddan. This team has definitely been there and done it at every Athlete / Coach level. I assume this is the case in team sports ie. Martin Johnson will have a knowledgeable teach of coaches around him but he is a very strong character as the public Coach and Motivator.

  • Comment number 10.

    Why have you only suddenly thought about this!! Many people have often thought of this question in pubs and bars throughout the land a long time ago. Maybe you have only thought about it because it's a former BBC pundit.

    You should already know the answer to Shearer anyway. He was a bad pundit with very few answers to questions that were asked to him. He doesn't have the man management skills to inspire this team. Lets face it the main reason he went there was the money and also he is in a win win situation. No one expects them to stay up so if they go down he will not be blamed.

    I think is the case with a lot of other world class sports people especially in the team sports anyway. Maybe they can be good mentors but great coaches I don't think so. You mentioned Linford Christie but he had help from his old coach. He also retired over a drugs charge so he can't go to the Olympics as a coach so I don't think that was a good example really.

    You also have to ask how much training have they had or done in coaching as top sports people seem to think they can just move into it after they retire and be successful. World class coaches have spent years starting at the bottom and working their way up their field of expertise which is why the get success.

  • Comment number 11.

    what's that old saying - "You don't need to have been a horse to be a jockey"?

    I think that with a lot of top sports-people they have a high level of natural ability to begin with, and so they sometimes can't fully relate to the problems and frustations suffered by those who don't have this ability and can't do the things that come so naturally to those who have this ability.

    In football terms I think this can be like the top players who carry on playing and go down the leagues. Often they will find this hard, not because they have lost their ability (although possibly pace) but because the players around them aren't as good. In the top tier you could take a touch and knock it wide knowing that the full-back would be coming into the space, in the lower levels you would do this and see the ball roll out as the correct run wasn't made, or you have to hold the ball up while waiting for players to get open - the end result for both is the same, people think you've lost IT.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great point well made. I am a Newcastle supporter and I have NEVER wanted Shearer as manager. In football, great players hardly ever make great managers. The only exceptions to that who I can think of are actually Brian Clough and Jack Charlton. You say that Jack Charlton was 'arguably' a weaker player than Bobby; he was still a good enough Centre Half to play in a World Cup Final. Of the current Premiership Managers, it is worth noting that Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Tottenham, Stoke, Hull and Sunderland are all managed by less than succesful players and that Gary Megson and Sam Allardyce were only slightly above average. Portsmouth and Sunderland were both managed for the early part of the season by very good players with poor managerial records. Only Martin O'Neill, Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes are former quality players who now have a track record in management.

  • Comment number 13.

    There is two more points that can be added.

    I can't remember who said and who it was about (maybe about bobby moore) but one reason why great players don't make good coaches is that they don't understand themselves how they do all the great things as it comes naturally to them.

    secondally, unless you have a great deal of time and patience, great players can become fustrated when a group of players are no where near the standard when they was a player, so it can become fustrating for them

  • Comment number 14.

    those that do - do
    those that cant - teach,
    there is a lot in that old chesnut , whilst a great sporting career opens doors I cant think of many who reached the top of the tree in there chosen feild going on to have an extended career as a coach , Beckenbaur , and the like come to mind but even he packed it in when he got bored .

  • Comment number 15.

    Well done on a thoughtful piece Katharine; this is a topic that always comes up whenever a high profile sports person becomes a coach/manager.

    Of course, there have been many successful sports performers who have gone on to become great coaches. I think a major factor in this comes down to real leadership qualities. Not just being able to say this is what I did to gain my success so that's the way we are going to do it, but being able to look at the individual/team and helping them to address their own weaknesses and strengths.
    What does sometimes help, is having a great coach and/or mentor yourself and recogninsing how they got the most out of you. Though this is not a definitive key to success (ref: Ince, Keane, Robson under Ferguson).

    From an athletic point of view, I think your arrangement of having Linford in a mentoring capacity and Ron Roddan in a coaching capacity can work very well. You had the inspirational aspects and experiences from Linford and also the technical detail and input from Ron as a coach. It takes a special person to combine both of those aspects, which is probably why there are not that many great coaches out there!

    UK Athletics has been trying to involve more ex athletes as coaches, and helping them with their coaching skills which is a good thing. We just need to start seeing the benfits of it in performances; the real test will be if there are more athletes reaching Olympic Finals in London.

  • Comment number 16.

    Surely, it's down to the individual!

    Martin O'Neill, played at the highest level and now a successful manager.
    John Barnes, highly successful player, failed as a manager.
    Walter Smith, not the best playing career, successful spells as manager, coach and national manager.
    Paul Le Guen, successful player in France and National squad, didn't make it a full season as Rangers manager (although successful elsewhere)

  • Comment number 17.

    I think it's a hit or miss if great athletes become great coaches.

    The likes of Martin O'Neil, Gordon Strachan, Brian Clough, Jock Stein (possibly) etc have all been top players and gone on to be successful in management but then the likes of John Barnes and Tony Adams etc have been top players but failed as managers.

    It's an interesting topic because for the likes of Adams were superb coaches but when it came to the top job when they had to introduce tactics they struggled. I think it's very difficult to define which players would make great managers but i would say that they would have to be very observant, patient and intelligant. You see most of the managers now seem clever men, with a good knowledge base where as i doubt the likes of Scott Brown at Celtic will be a football manager even with all the skill he possesses.

    All i must say is fair play and good luck to anyone who wants to go in to management or coaching and good luck to them

  • Comment number 18.

    Johan Cruyff & Franz Beckenbauer - two great players and two great coaches (albeit Cruyff the more successful at the domestic level).

  • Comment number 19.

    I think perhaps "communication skills" is the key phrase. Obviously there is more to coaching/management than simply that but the ability to put across your ideas is surely an essential part of being a top coach.

  • Comment number 20.

    jose prime example

  • Comment number 21.

    Denise Wise...Enough said!

  • Comment number 22.

    I think it depends on your own personal biases. If you believe that great players don't make good coaches, you'll find lots of examples but it's the same if you believe the opposite.

    Just of the top of my head, I came up with Cruyff, Beckenbauer, Rijkaard, Le Guen, Ancelotti, Van Basten, Capello, Zico and Michael Laudrup, all of them have played at the highest level as players but also have impressive coaching credentials.

    I had more problems thinking of successful British coaches who had successful playing careers at the highest level, but I still came up with Sir Bobby Robson, Alex McLeish, Kenny Daglish and Steve Bruce (not a great coach but doing not too bad with Wigan right now).

  • Comment number 23.

    I think the point here is Great players get fast tracked in the managerial scheme of things. Why has Shearer gone in at a Premier League standard? Look at people like O'Neill, proved himself at Leicester originally. Nigel Clough looks like he has the makings of a good manager, but he put his stint in at Burton.

    These days a name is bigger than a skill, the likes of Bruce, Adams, Keane and Southgate all Premier League players who have gone into management. Of those you could only really say that Bruce looks good, and don't forget even he had his trials and tribulations with Birmingham.

  • Comment number 24.

    The most seccsessful first year manager in brittan Roberto Martinez. Former swans captain made us tick for many years player and manager.

  • Comment number 25.

    Just read about 20 odd comments and while Sir Alex Ferguson gets mentioned noone mentions Kenny Dalglish!
    Ferguson was not the greatest player but he did play for one of the top two clubs in Scotland so in Scotland at least he was near the top.
    Dalglish however was a star for Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland.
    Therefore even if we say Ferguson was not a great player we thus have a poor player and a great player who are/were both great managers.
    Not sure head to head which is the better manager of the two? Although Dalglish is not on the scene much anymore.
    Anyway when you add George Graham at Arsenal you have to wonder if being Scottish helps. Apart from them the winners in England have included Wenger, Benitez and Mourinho I haven't really seen a good English manager for a long time.
    I would class Keegan as a very good manager (English) but he also bottles it when the stress gets going. I'd like to see Keegan in charge at one of the big four to see how he'd do with proper money and an ok starting team. Any thoughts???

  • Comment number 26.

    An interesting topic.I have coached both athletics and football at youth community level, and football at elite level and would offer a different viewpoint. The skill-set required to succeed as a coach is quite different to that of an athlete. There is no doubt that having an appreciation of the challenges and technical requirements of a sport is a distinct advantage, but if an individual lacks the fundamental coaching skills, then they will fail. In my view these skills are strong communication, organization, teaching ability and an understanding of different learning models, patience, empathy, motivation (self and athlete), determination, strong technical knowledge of the sport and the techniques, principles and demands of performance at that discipline - be it track & field, football, rugby, cricket, tennis or whatever sports discipline is applicable. An open-minded attitude is also important, in particular to study and accept best practice from other sports. Often, whilst viewing coaching challenges through the eyes of a coach in another discipline,eureka moments can be achieved. My experience, having worked with coaches of varying backgrounds is that those who have performed at pro level, tend to emulate coaches from their own past. This is not always the best example to follow, particularly when dealing with younger athletes.'Old Skool' coaching style is what it is - outdated and often not successful - using bullying, abuse and pressure methodology to motivate athletes is both unprofessional and against any Code Of Conduct I have ever viewed. Coaches who have the above positive attributes, but not tainted by outmoded coaching style, will ( in my opinion) make a far greater contribution to an athletes development and achieve sustainable performance results. I see the role of a coach as a catalyst - fusing together the vast array of athlete development resources, technical and tactical learning schedules, specialist coaching input and the motivation, attributes, and development capabilities of the athlete to achieve an end goal with mutual success as the desired outcome. With regard to Alan Shearer as the original example of a successful player, thrown into the role of coach - this will in my view end in tears.
    Although he clearly possesses experience at the highest level as a player, he has zero coaching experience and as he will no doubt discover, being an armchair coach on MOTD is about as close to running a pro football team as a bus driver stepping up to drive the space shuttle.

  • Comment number 27.

    Natural footballers often don't make great coaches because for them the game was effortless and never required thought.

    The Charlton brothers analogy is good but for me misses that point.

    Bobby was an extremely skilfull player whilst Jackie was more of a defensive obstacle. Each equally effective in their own right (to suggest one was "weaker" ignores their respective positions). Jack would have spent far more of his career focussed on what people like his brother were going to do next, thus reading the game more.

    That translates more easily into a coaching career and the ability to study and read a game.

  • Comment number 28.

    Of course being a great athlete does not give one a god given right to make a great coach. We all had teachers at school who were arguably really intelligent but were not as captivating, interesting or as inspiring as another teacher who may not have been a genius.

    This topic is very intersting but I think one point has been overlooked. A coach and a manager are two very different things. And therefore it impossible to compare athletes becoming track and field managers with footballers who manage teams.

    To illustrate my point take Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex (the manager)has appointed numerous coaches in his time (most recently Quieroz and Phelan) who would have been involved in organising training sessions, delivering tactical advice to players and monitoring fitness. The manager may be more involved in selecting players, deciding upon tactics and considering the dynamics of the group. Whilst an athletics coach often does much more of a hands on job. Take Gary Lough (Paula Radcliffe's coach), he may well also have a group of athletes and their needs to consider but will also set the training schedule, decide upon training venues and delegate others to deal with injury, nutrition or psychology.

    Coaches, managers, teachers and military officers are all leaders. We can say with absolute certainty that a great performer will not guarantee success in leadership however the impact these individuals have is likely to be multidimensional and depend upon what activity being led, who is being led and the conditions that the leader finds themselves in. In psychology this has been written about extensively by Packianathan Chelladurai.

  • Comment number 29.

    Oddly, football clubs who bring in foreign managers - the likes of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger or Liverpool with Rafa Benitez - do so based on their coaching ability, while those who appoint home-grown managers - like Newcastle with Shearer - do it based on playing ability.

    ---------

    Silly and completely wrong statement.

    Most clubs still appoint a manager on the basis of past managerial performance.

    Some clubs decide to take a punt on a manager with no experience (soemone has to), that is where a high profile as a player coems in handy, after all players are more likely to respect a name than a nobody. The other kind usually get promoted through the ranks (Sbraglia)

    The third part is that managers with no experience tend to start in their home country.

    For more proof that your theory is wrong then look at the current premier league managers. Harry Redknapp, Martin O'Neill, David Moyes, Steve Bruce, Roy Hodgson, Mark Hughes, Gary Megson, Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce, Phil Brown, Paul Hart and Tony Mowbray all had managerial experiecne before joining their current clubs. While Moyes, Hughes and Bruce all had their chances of a good first job enhanced by playing careers they have all proven themselves as good managers before thir current posts.

    Even more proof how silly it is, look at some of the players brought in as managers for their first job, they are not all british: Gullit and Zola were hardly brits.

    All your statement really points out is that the top four tend to go for proven experienced managers while the rest tend to take a risk on lesser names, usually because the top managers arent interested in managing WBA, Middlesborough or Hull.




    Eveny our athletics analogy is bad. Football is a team game with massive amounts of tactical nowledge where experience from playing the game can be a huge plus factor. Most athletics is purely fitness and technical based, very little of it requires the type of knowledge that can be passed down from forbearers and in contrast it is often better for coaches to have not been athletes, they can concentrate more on the technical specifics without the clouded judgement of second guessing other performances.

  • Comment number 30.

    Its not easy to learn how to become the goal picker (striker), or tackle guy (midfielder) or the defender with the eye for the dangerous passes - same applies for great goal keepers. This whole process is very intuitive - i.e. it is learnt by the brain in unconscious ways. Said in another way - it is a gift.

    What is required in a coach is a thinking mentality - to think your way through problems, to come up with solutions. Coaching and further encompassing term of managing is a task for the learned, the thinker, the problem solver. This usually requires work to be done - depending on how slow a learner the manager is the work becomes easier or harder.

    Similarly you can become a hard working runner and on your day (and conditions permitting) you will win - but it is the gifted one that will take the pie (medal?) 95 out of 100 times.

    So no appointing Shearer as coach does not guarantee success, neither does it guarantee failure (though it appears the likelier outcome). Klinsmann is an example of that - he was successful with Germany and Bayern to a certain extent. You have to be willing (determined no end) and able to re-define yourself as per your goals and aspirations (and weigh them against your love for the game).

    As for the greatest coaches having not been the greatest players - it may be an example of the human spirit rising in managing where it failed in playing. Or maybe the person's gift is in man management (Mourinho) or vision and drive (Ferguson). A certain Mexican coach (fairly successful at that) was a farmer. Who has heard of either of these folks performing wonders in their playing days?

    Good coaching and managing requires a personality, a character, drive, a thinking mind - if you great in your past life as an athlete, player that is a plus, that's all.

  • Comment number 31.

    Great players can make great coaches, but for every Beckenbauer or Cruyff there's ten Tony Adams/Paul Inces. There are many more examples of great coaches who were not great players, Sacchi, Ferguson, Wenger, Mourinho, Hiddink; none were great players, but yet have made great coaches. I think the continental approach where tactics are taught from a young age is more suited to grooming players for management. Personally I think Shearer will make a poor manager, he's not a motivator, he isn't even really a winner if everyone's honest. Given the choice of United or Blackburn, he chose Blackburn, a winner would have recognised another in Alex Ferguson. I agree with the above that the athletics analogy is a poor one, especially with regard to sprinting, that's just genetics, technique and training, there's very little in the way of tactics and motivation from the coach, a high-level track athlete should be self motivated since they're doing it all for themselves. To be a good coach takes intelligence, thus ruling out 95% of footballers.

  • Comment number 32.

    I played as a keeper and center back for my football club but was assistant coach after I finished playing. While I was never particularly talented, I felt that was a necessity to coaching because I knew what it took for a not-so-talented player to make the team and that's something that the guys with talent didn't always understand. That stuff that I knew could improve both the worst player on the pitch and the best. I think being a keeper helped a lot too because we see things differently than the rest of the players. Even if we don't have to make a save the entire game, we've spent the entire 90+ mins analyzing what could happen - something I found more difficult to do when I played in the field. In all seriousness, I think more keepers should have a shot at being managers though the fact that many keepers are a bit... shall I say odd? probably makes that a bit of a challenge.

  • Comment number 33.

    As compared to in other games like golf, tennis, athletics, cricket, a coach in football is a very powerful position. A coach's role here is pivotal, in that he takes individual players as the weapons in the execution of his over all plan, as tools that are pickable or discardable. He must command almost total respect of his charges. Sometimes and for some time absolute authority may suffice, but not always and certainly not for ever. In the long run ersatz will be found out.

    Now we may look at some outstanding examples. Football wise Mourinho, Ferguson are outstanding but man management wise they barely pass muster, just eke it. This is the area in which they make their immense stature to bully down and keep some very gifted talent in line, or failing that live it down or just fling it away. Just count the no. of good players of the game gone/going to seed in their regimes. Aryen Robbens, Crespo, Adriano, Nisterlooy, Tevez are examples that could bear some adding on to. Rooney's temper gets the better of the footballer in him and channelising that may take more than an SAF. May be I am the only one who thinks Ronaldo is fast hurtling towards being the most spoilt brat of football. You can hardly pretend to be a Messiah if you cannot look the non-believer in the eye.

    An aside, Capello extracted a a much better performance out of Rooney in the Ukraine game.

    Staying with EPL I can see some very persuasive leaders in Hiddink, Harry Redknapp, MON, Gianfranco Zola, Sam Allardyce, Moyes, Roy Houghton, Megson and even a miserably failing Southgate, not necessarily in that order.

    Outside epl we have Josep Guardiola, Porto, Villareal, Valencia managers, Martin Jol at Hamburg, Ancelloti and many more.

    But the issue was if good players make good coaches. Alan may yet inspire a turn around. Early days. He is in a win win. Two and a half results out of 7 will do. To-night is perhaps huge. Last game he was standing on the sidelines like a man at beach, lazily counting the waves. He has to be more passionately involved. His business suit somehow clashed with my hands-on-the-job idea of the man. Then take Diego. Cannot play Higuain. Reportedly, Sergio Aguero, his nephew is opposed to the idea of letting in the outstanding Real hit man. May be just hearsay, but if true such prejudice and lack of objectivity can, besides betraying your luke-warm commitment to the serious business of managing, be the bane of many a would-be good manager. Even so and despite his skinning at La Paz I expect Maradona to translate his playing genius into managerial success.

    The finest example of a great player and a great coach in one package is from cricket. Shane Warne, the best captain Australia never had is hugely successful with Rajasthan Royals, an Indian Premier League franchise. At the moment he is a player cum coach. In his playing days, he hardly ever recogonised any coaching authority, even going to the ridiculous extent that a coach was not needed at all.

  • Comment number 34.

    Back to the Charlton brothers. There was no need to add the "arguably" to Jackie being weaker. However that is not saying that he was a poor player - after all he was an England International. Indeed IMO it was his and Gordon Bank's food poisoning that cost us a place in the World Cup Final in 1970. Therefore he can't really be held up as an example of a poor player who was a good coach.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hi all.
    Happy Easter!
    Great to see this blog has sparked such interest. Many varied opinions that make a great debate.
    Whilst writing this I am listening to the TV with a great point being made in a discussion between John Barnes and Jamie Redknapp.
    Passion, knowledge and someone who eats, sleeps and drinks their sport, is what makes them a successful manager says Jamie Redknapp.
    Where as John Barnes chips in with the point of, gone are the days when high profile players can expect to walk in to high profile jobs, apprenticeship needs to be served in the lower leagues, Alan Shearer aside.
    Do you agree?

    In reply to the posts:
    5) Stu-Mc
    "Do former athletes make the best journalists? :-)"

    In some ways yes as they have access to information and relationships with fellow athletes that ordinary journalists don't have, hence across many sports ex athletes appear.
    My apprenticeship as it were, was served whilst I was still competing. After the Olympics, amongst other things, I was asked to write for the Daily Telegraph. Did my Olympic medal open the door? Yes it did, but it is essential for me to deliver and continue to do a good job, to maintain a role in the media.

    6)londonwelsh87
    ".....but the media seems to target this notion of 'players cant become managers' which only adds to their pressure and begins the witchhunt from day one"

    An ex sport persons profile is what gets the media interested. If David Beckham took a managerial post tomorrow there would be a world wide media frenzy, not a witch hunt, but a general interest created by his high profile.

    "A Manager to a certain extent is only as good as the players he has to choose from afterall. If the players/sprinter/whoever arent simply good enough - then it is their fault, not the scape-goated boss."

    It's the coaches job to find out whether the players/athletes are good enough. Getting them to play at their optimum, ulitising all the skills they do have.
    Hull beat Arsenal this season ulitising those methods.
    It's to easy to say the athletes aren't good enough, a good coach has to get the optimum out of the athlete or players they have. The best coaches get their athletes to perform at their optimum, and what success that brings it brings.
    To a certain extent you are right, but Sam Allardyce came up with methods at Bolton, looking at every aspect of the game, to get the team to play at the best of their ability.
    In Athletics take Donovan Bailey in sprinting. His previous coaches didn't ever come close to revealing his true potentail. In his late 20's one coach Dan Pfaff, a real student of the sport, left no stone unturned and produced a world record holding Olympic Champion.
    How many athletes have been told that they just aren't good enough, when really, their potential is left untapped by just not having the best coaching?

    10) nick_hove_actually
    "Why have you only suddenly thought about this!!"

    This point is age old! It has just been reignited by Alan Shearer's appointment at Newcastle and Charles Van Commenee at UK Athletics.

    "Maybe they can be good mentors but great coaches I don't think so. You mentioned Linford Christie but he had help from his old coach. He also retired over a drugs charge so he can't go to the Olympics as a coach so I don't think that was a good example really."

    Sorry nick_hove_actually but I have to refute this point, because Linford Christie proved to be a great coach and mentor when I was at the Olympics in Sydney winning my medal.

    13) mpjacko
    "one reason why great players don't make good coaches is that they don't understand themselves how they do all the great things as it comes naturally to them."

    I agree. In football certain elements are instinctive, and cannot necessarily be taught. You can of course improve skill in all sports, but in football you have moments of genius that are just unteachable, you don't have that in athletics.


    15)hillsandvalleys
    "UK Athletics has been trying to involve more ex athletes as coaches, and helping them with their coaching skills which is a good thing"

    Putting an emphasise on coaching like UK Athletics are doing, combining the coaching prowess with experienced mentors who have been there and done it is a good thing.
    Fast tracking former athletes in sports has to be done carefully, they have experiences to bring, but as mentioned in the blog, should there maybe be an apprenticeship served under an established coaches wing?

    23) cityslicker86
    "Why has Shearer gone in at a Premier League standard?"

    I like football and have increasingly seen good ex players taking high profile coaching/managing roles. Appreciating the differences between sports, I know alot about my sport in many areas with 24 years experience, but would I put myself in an equilivant role at this moment in time, no. I would become part of a team and learn, and not throw myself in at the deep end.

    29) hackerjack
    "Most clubs still appoint a manager on the basis of past managerial performance."

    Not in Shearer's case or in the case of Tony Adams, who took the Portsmouth job only because Redknapp left with Adams having not done anything successful as a manager. Also Zola's only spell before West Ham was as the coaching assistant to the Italian U21 side before he came to West Ham without the required UEFA coaching licence.

    "Some clubs decide to take a punt on a manager with no experience (soemone has to),"

    No they don't! Would you be happy if your beloved team informed you they were taking a punt on somebody? Give me good solid reason why they are taking the person on, but not a punt. I wouldn't be happy if I was a player or a fan. You bring in someone who you think can do the job.
    As an athlete I would not risk my career by taking a punt on a coach, and I wouldn't want my advisors to risk my career either.

    "Football is a team game with massive amounts of tactical nowledge where experience from playing the game can be a huge plus factor. Most athletics is purely fitness and technical based, very little of it requires the type of knowledge that can be passed down from forbearers and in contrast it is often better for coaches to have not been athletes, they can concentrate more on the technical specifics without the clouded judgement of second guessing other performances"

    Athletics maybe individual and footie a team sport, but there are tactics in both. In some ways athletics is as technical and tactical as football. All middle, long and sprint races have tactics and therefore past knowledge and experience from former athletes is vital.
    It is not just a case of turning up and running! The reason it is called sprinting and not running is because it is a technical event. You ask a sprinter to break down a 100m race, and they will have at least 5 phases to execute.

  • Comment number 36.

    Not necessarily, you need a teaching gift and an enthusiasm to inspire others.

    More importantly, on the Olympic front, a country's athletes should be coached by their own nationals, and not by a mentor imported from half way round the globe.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hello Katherine, thanks for the blog; I was a fellow Birchfielder around the time you making it up the ranks as a teenager, so I applaud your own achievements.

    However, whilst I accept most of your points, I think coaching athletics is not only a matter of knowledge but one of respect and how kids are nurtured by the individuals concerned.

    As for footballers, well like Charles VC, premature ending of a career often makes for very highly motivated people and well that's no bad thing as far as coaching is concerned. Perhaps we should look no further than Brian Clough and his exploits - shame he was not taken in the spirit in which most of his comments were mean't.

    I guess it comes down to environment and a whole host of factors coming together at once that either conspire to create greatness in coaching, or not. A dollop of enthusiasm as well.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi newsjock
    Thanks for the post, but why do you think this?
    "More importantly, on the Olympic front, a country's athletes should be coached by their own nationals, and not by a mentor imported from half way round the globe."
    I am interested to hear your reasoning for this, as surely if we can inspire our athletes and use experience and knowledge from overseas coaches/mentors as well as our own here in the UK, this can only be a good thing?
    There are examples in many sports where we have been successful at Olympics including rowing.

    Hi poshnoel.
    I agree with the points you have made. Athletes who have had their careers cut short by injury can become highly motivated coaches.
    If an athlete knows where they want to be and how to get there by studying their sport, and is unfortunate to have their career cut short, the knowledge, enthusiasm and basics of what works is still there, and can be directed into coaching.
    Brain Clough is a good example. Injured at his peak aged 27 and went on to become a fantastic manager. Maybe the best english manger never to manage the national side?

 

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