devo's volleyball – Australian volleyball: news and views

gladwell on coaching

Posted by markleb on May 21, 2009

A lot of people have probably heard of, and read, Malcolm Gladwell’s books Blink, Tipping Point and Outsiders. They may also know that he writes a regular magazine column (for New Yorker magazine) and loves sport.  His more recent column is here .   I think it is a great coaching article.  I would hope that many coaches can identify with the hero of the story and none with the coaches described at the end of the article.

11 Responses to “gladwell on coaching”

  1. devo said

    Thanks Mark, a great read.

  2. Anon said

    Agreed, fantastic book. Outliers is also pretty good too.

  3. hugh29 said

    Eldo still has my copy of the “Tipping Point”!

  4. hugh29 said

    I’ve also lent out “outliers” to another coach. between them they have excellent ideas on coaching. Other great books – ANYTHING by Seth Godin (His blog is excellent) and “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath.

    I like ranadive’s philosophy on not yelling at his players. I have three simple ideas about coaching kids:

    1) People don’t remember what you did for them they remember how you made them feel

    2) You can’t control anyone but yourself. That’s why we’re all taught to say “mine” and not “yours”. By controlling yourself you can influence others

    3) When we communicate 7% of the message comes from the content. 28% comes from tone of voice and 63% comes from body language. ie “controlling yourself” means your body language and tone of voice.

    I noticed that when i stopped yelling and started being aware of my body language and tone of vice my teams did better. Chen Zhonghe who coached the chinese women’s team to a gold in 04 always looked unnerved and relaxed with a smile. Karpol who lost to him after being 2 sets up in the final was the complete opposite.

  5. Jase said

    i love john wooden’s book, “my personal best”
    he was a NCAA basketball coach for years, and still holds the longest winning streak in the NCAA, is in the hall of fame as player and coach, and the UCLA hall is named after him.

    has some great philosophies,
    my favourite as a coach is that you should not aim to be better than someone else becuase you cant control what they do, and if you achieve it, you have no-where more to go. Instead, he says that the goal as a player and coach should be to become the best person/team etc, they can be. He defines success as being able to look back and say “i did everything i could to be the best i could be”, rather than whether they win or not.

    he also developed a pyramid of success i like,

    good book

  6. Jase said

    some great john wooden quotes can be found at

  7. Alexis said

    Wooden’s Pyramid is fantastic:

    As a team activity once the US Women’s volleyball team painted it on the wall of their training facility.

  8. hugh29 said

    Quite a philosopher isn’t he?

    My favourite coach is Phil Jackson (LA Lakers / Chicago Bulls). Reads Taoist / Buddhist books and generally takes an enlightened approach to doing things. Besides that time he used video of Jason Kidd with frames of swastikas subliminally spliced in, i think he’s been pretty spot on.

    • markleb said

      Yes, I’m a big Phil fan too. ‘Sacred Hoops’ is the best booking about coaching ever. Everyone should read it, or at least every coach.
      So I have to defend Phil a bit here. The player in question was Jason Williams who at the time had a shaved head and tattoos and therefore a striking similarity to the Ed Norton character in ‘America History X’. I don’t remember exactly the point Phil was trying to make by the editing but it wasn’t the Jason Williams was a neo Nazi.

  9. Ross said

    Another good read is a book by Terry Pettit, who coached at Nebraska for 23 years. It’s called ‘Talent and the Secret Life of Teams’. Anson Dorrance has written numerous books, but ‘The Man Watching’ is very good. He created a dynasty of soccer success in the US college system at North Carolina. There is a lot about developing team chemistry and accountability within a team environment.

  10. Ross said

    Try this link to TED:….nd_success.html.
    It is John Wooden talking about success. There is plenty of other good material on TED too.

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