What Every Coach Can Learn From Bill Belichick

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You can call him a cheater. You can tweet about how much you hate him. But, it doesn’t change the fact that Belichick and the Patriots have won their 5th Super Bowl title. They managed to have a record-breaking season despite all of the adversity they’ve faced along the way. Sure, Tom Brady is without question the best quarterback of all time, but his supporting cast isn’t a bunch of superstars. Yet, they have achieved what many superstars in this league wish of achieving.

“For coaches who are developing young players, it would be a sin not to pay attention (To Belichick),” Enrico Blasi, Miami (Ohio) Men’s Hockey Head Coach

As a coach myself, I can’t help but be in awe of what Bill Belichick has done. And I’m not the only one. Many coaches outside the realm of football have spoken their admiration of Belichick. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who knew Belichick when Rivers coached the Boston Celtics said, “I think he’s the greatest coach of all time. In any sport.”

Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts told ESPN, “He’s the master at creating a winning culture. The ability to get his players to be accountable and solely play for one another is unparalleled.”

Enrico Blasi, Men’s Hockey Coach at Miami (Ohio) University said, “As a coach, at our level anyway, you always try to mimic the best at any sport, and obviously the Patriots are the best at what they do, and (Bill) is the best at what he does, so you’re always using examples. Even if you don’t mention his name, you’re probably stealing something from him, and that’s coaching too,” Blasi said.

Here are some things, as coaches, we don’t necessarily have to steal, but we can take away from the possibly the greatest coach of all time.

1.  It’s not about the best team, it’s about the right team

Belichick often says to scouts, “Tell me what the guy can do, don’t tell me what he can’t do, and we’ll find a way to put that positive skill set in the defense and not ask him to be in a position where he can fail.” The Patriots coaching staff is most known for finding players people often overlook and turning them into stars. (Drafting Tom Brady in the 6th round of the 2000 draft is probably their best example.) Too many times you see coaches going for the most talented kid, the tallest kid, the fastest kid, or the kid that everyone is talking about. It doesn’t matter how the other teams in your conference, league etc. view the player, but how the player will fit into your system. One of Belichick’s biggest coaching philosophies is “Doing your job”. It may be executing a plan to the best of your ability for that match, doing a scouting report, or cheering on your teammates from the bench. A player’s willingness to fill any role on a team for the success of the team, without regard for how it may affect stats or looks from college scouts. Players should be built to embrace change and a selfless attitude.

2.  Success doesn’t happen overnight.

Belichick hasn’t always been the successful head coach he is today. After years of assisting for multiple NFL teams, he was hired as head coach for the Cleveland Browns in 1991. He lasted five seasons, with a record of 36-44 with just one playoff appearance. In 1999, he served as Jets coach for less than a day, (he referred to himself as head coach of the Jets on a handwritten resignation note.) Did he give up? Not a chance. Since arriving to New England in 2000, he’s racked up 13 division titles, 23 post-season wins (most by an NFL head coach), seven AFC championship games and, now, 5 Super Bowls. He wasn’t blessed with success, he had to work for years for it and be patient. Most successes don’t come easy, and they definitely don’t come overnight.

3.  Respect your competition.

Before every game, Belichick praises the competition, no matter how bad their record may be. As any good coach knows, past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Any given team can win on any given day. Belichick reminds his team that the competition is getting better every day and they should too. This combats the complacency and laziness that can come with success. As a coach, ensure that your team continues to respect each opponent, no matter how bad or good they seem, so they will continue to grow.

4.  You can always get better.

The day after your season ends is your first opportunity to make your team better. As soon as the season ends, Belichick and the Patriots’ coaching staff evaluate the season, look for weaknesses and look for ways to improve. They never dwell on past losses or settle for past successes. They are always looking for ways to get better and figuring how opponents will defend them in the coming season. Coaches must anticipate and be open to change whether that’s a new lineup, new player, or new coach.