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    Dabo Swinney went from just an assistant to head coach at Clemson

The Sports Grouch

How great coaches bring out the best in their players

What does it take to build winning teams at more than a single school?
That is a riddle within a puzzle within a mystery.
Take Lou Holtz. After being fired as an assistant at Carolina, he built winning teams at several colleges before winning a national championship at Notre Dame. His return to Carolina was less spectacular.
Take Dabo Swinney. He was an assistant coach at Clemson when his boss was fired. He was named interim while the school sought a new coach. Dabo did so well that he got the job and look at what he has achieved.
Take Tom Knotts. at Dutch Fork High. He has won 12 state championships in South and North Carolina. 
How does he do it?

The secrets
Being a good head coach is more than just Xs and Os. 
Boris Blumenstein, author of “Brain and Body in Sport and Exercise” identified 11 traits that all good coaches need to produce winners:
Confidence. Coaches must believe in themselves, their fellow coaches, players and game plans. They must have unwavering confidence in their teams ability to adjust to changing conditions.
Pressure proof. It’s not just players who need to step up in the 4th quarter or play from behind. Can they remain calm and call the correct play? Can they quickly recover from a bad call or turnover? Coaches must inspire players to give their best in all 4 quarters.
Competitive. Players draw their competitive fire from their coaches, Their coaches must have a competitive desire to draw out what they see in players to become their best.
Focus. They don’t let themselves or their players get distracted. They must be razor sharp at all times.

Other secrets
Fundraisers. Equipment and facilities may not be as much fun as Xs and Os but must demand respect. 
Controlled. Everyone gets butterflies before games. Everyone. Winners can get their butterflies flying in formation.
Composure. In every game something will go wrong. Count on it. Don’t think of the problem. Think of the solution.
Self-awareness. Good coaches know their players’ strengths and weaknesses – and their own. Great coaches strengthen their weaknesses by hiring assistants who are strong in areas where they are not.
Positive thinkers. Every down is an opportunity to benefit the team. Take advantage of them. Players need guidance, positive energy and direction. Be the leader they need.
Team builders. Individual player talent will take a team only so far. Building teams takes skill, experience, practice and study.  
Thought control. Don’t get distracted by what’s going on. Maintain discipline.
Self-management. Do you make time for your family? Do you take care of your assistants and players? 
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