By Ken Kaiserman
When the Lakers won their 15th NBA Championship last week, Phil Jackson
won his 10th title as a coach, surpassing Red Auerbach as the winningest
coach in league history. The argument started in earnest about whether
Phil is the greatest coach in the history of sports.
Phil Celebrating #10 with
his “X” Hat
A good case can be made that Phil actually is the best coach ever. His
detractors state that he had great players like Michael Jordan, Scotty
Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. However, don’t all coaches that
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
win have good players? During the Celtics dynasty Auerbach coached nine players
who would be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame. When I’ve coached
with better players on my team I know that everybody thinks I’m a better
coach. Many are critical thinking it was harder years ago to win a
championship because there were only sixteen teams that were all loaded with
talent, but with expansion has also come a worldwide growth of the game with
rosters now full of international stars.
The crucial question to answer to determine the greatest coach is what
criteria should be used. Phil Jackson has won more titles than any other
professional coach with Red Auerback and Scotty Bowman (Hockey) tied with
nine each. However, in college, John Wooden also has ten titles and Ron
Dedeaux, the USC Baseball coach had 11 career championships. Maybe instead
of championships the key factors should be different, including graduation
rates in college, career wins, hall of fame players developed, outperforming
expectations with bad players, improving the players or teams, or even
simply the winning percentage of all games coached. However, each of these
measurements would lead to a different outcome for the all-time greatest
coach. Yet, in professional sports, winning titles is paramount and
therefore Jackson does have a legitimate claim to greatest coach ever.
For SportsKids.com, the more important question is to judge the quality of
our youth coaches. What criteria should we have as parents, administrators
and as kids to determine who would be the greatest youth coach of all time?
While winning titles in professional sports may be the ultimate goal, it is
not what makes a youth coach special. Winning is important and kids always
enjoy being on a good team, and winning championships does allow leeway in
other areas, but it isn’t the ultimate measuring stick for kids. The higher
the level of competition and the older the kids get, the more important
winning becomes, even for youth sports, but there are many other things that
have to be considered.
To determine what makes a great youth coach it is imperative to understand
why kids are playing sports.
Coach’s Corner, Continued
They play sports, first and foremost, to have fun. There are a great number
of elements that go into having fun, some are obvious, like being on a team
with friends and winning. However, it is up to a good coach to provide the
other elements that will lead to a kid having a very satisfying and fun
season, including: improving as a player, accomplishing goals, learning life
lessons, and simply having the experience be enjoyable by running around at
well organized practices and games. We have to allow kids opportunities to
succeed and have fun.
Kids will all be told soon enough that they’re not good enough to play
organized sports, whether it’s after they turn twelve, not making the high
school team, or even for all but the very, very best, not being able to play
beyond high school. Then, sports become totally about fun. Those of us that
are still weekend warriors, in any sport, play for the enjoyment of being
out there. Why should it be different for our kids when sports should be a
special time with friends away from school and other commitments?
The goal of a great coach is that the kids have fun. There are no objective
measurements for how much fun a kid has during a season, but we can see some
of the results. Are the kids smiling and happy? Do children come back and
play the next year, especially those that are the worst players on the team?
Do the kids all come out to practice on time and work hard to improve their
skills? Have their skills actually improved and have they learned anything
from the coach?
The reward of being a great youth coach is not that anybody will ever write
an article about you or that you can get into the hall of fame. You probably
won’t win any awards or make a lot of money. The reward of being the
greatest coach of all time is when you’re walking around your community and
the kids come up and say “hey coach”. The ultimate reward is when your own
kids and those that you have coached over the years become coaches
themselves and pass on the life lessons, good fundamentals and other aspects
that you taught them about being a great youth coach; when you go back to
the park on a sunny afternoon and see the next generation of kids out there
SPORTSKIDS Trivia Test
We’ve got great Trivia games for beginning to master SportsKids – try our
“All-Stars” Hockey Game and find the answers to these questions at the
1) Who was the last Toronto Maple Leaf to lead the NHL in scoring?
A) Darryl Sittler
B) Dave Keon
C) Gordie Drillon
D) George Armstrong
2) During its first season, which of the four NHL teams finished last?
A) Montreal Canadiens
B) Montreal Wonderers
C) Toronto Arenas
D) Ottawa Senators
3) Which of these players did NOT tie for the goal scoring lead during
the 1979-1980 season?
A) Danny Gare
B) Mike Bossy
C) Charlie Simmer
D) Blaine Stoughton
4) Who is the only goaltender to have three different players score
five goals or more against him in one NHL season?
A) Howard Lockart
B) Johnny Bower
C) Ed Walsh
D) Darcy Wakaluk
5) How many games did it take Wayne Gretzky to score 600 regular season
goals in the NHL?
There are trivia games in general sports, baseball, football, hockey,
basketball and “Sports Math” in three different skill levels. Test your
sports skills against kids around the world in the
SportsKids Game Section.
Answers: (1) C (2) B (3) B (4) A (5) D
SPORTSKIDS Sports Poll
1) Who is the greatest coach of all time?
- Rod Dadeaux
- Phil Jackson
- Casey Stengel
- Red Auerbach
- Vince Lombardi
2) What criteria are most important for a college or professional
- Winning percentage
- Career Wins
3) What are the most important criteria to determine the greatest youth
- Ability to teach fundamentals
- Kids having fun
- Developing high school players
Previous Poll results:
1) Which of the following do you feel is most important in youth
- Winning (21.43%)
- Sportsmanship (57.14%)
- Learning to Lose (4.76%)
- Developing Athletic Skills (16.67%)
2) Which of the following statements do you agree most with?
- Do you best when you play (57.14%)
- Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing (11.90%)
- Just have fun (30.95%)
3) Who do you think had the right approach after the 2009 Masters: Phil
being happy with what he did or Tiger demanding victory or nothing?
- Tiger Woods (50%))
- Phil Mickelson (50%)