Lessons from a Coaching Legend

I’m going to talk a little bit of football/soccer here for a moment. Don’t be alarmed! The volleyball link will become apparent in short order. :-)

One Sir Alex Ferguson has gotten himself in the news of late. The recently retired legendary manager of Manchester United is the subject of an article in the Harvard Business Review that caught the attention of the folks in the business press and even ESPN. It’s titled Ferguson’s Formula, and it has as it’s foundation a case study a Harvard professor did back in 2012. Obviously, the main perspective is therefor a business one, but since it is also an organizational and leadership based look at how the successful manager operated, it is something volleyball coaches would do well exploring also.

Here are the eight key points:

  1. Start with the foundation
  2. Dare to rebuild
  3. Set high standards
  4. Never cede control
  5. Match the message to the moment
  6. Prepare to win
  7. Rely on the power of observation
  8. Never stop adapting

I could go into my thoughts about each of these ideas, but I think I’m going to hold off and do so separately (plus, you should read the piece for yourself). There are a couple of them (at least) which deserve their own posts, and hopefully in that way a discussion about them can develop.

I would, however, make the point that there is much to be learned from our coaching peers in other sports. One of the things I always found beneficial when coaching collegiately in the State was being part of an Athletic Department where I could go talk with a coach from the softball team or the squash team or the wrestling team about recruiting, player management, organizational issues and whatnot. If you coach in a club environment this isn’t quite so easy to do, but I definitely encourage you to seek out successful coaches in other sports (and it doesn’t just have to be coaches who win a lot). In my experience, coaches in all sports love to talk shop.

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John is currently the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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