Listening to Coaches – Good?


I am a sports nut. I can watch reruns of Sport Center and games from the past. My wife keeps telling me that I must be hoping the outcome of the highlights or the game will change. Maybe! I really enjoy listening to the press conferences after the game. Coaches can be insightful, entertaining and not so good.

Being insightful is something that few coaches do well. At least, not in front of the cameras. I wish that would change. Watching the Rangers Coach, John Tortorella, speak about his teams game 7 performance and summing up the series, was insightful. He talked about how in order for his team to win, they would have to do X, Y and Z. He talked about how they did that for most of the series. He then stressed the importance of teamwork. He answered every question with a response that was either insightful or shed light on the behind the scenes view. When I listened to him speak, he reminded me of some of the leaders that I have tried to follow in my career.  He handled the pressure with class.

Entertaining press conferences and there are plenty. One of my all time favorite coaches, Bill Parcells was nothing short of entertaining in his press conferences. Did I learn anything from those moments, nope. Those moments were nothing more than a show for the press. Watch Bill on the sidelines, his facial expressions and in your face approach – that is what I like. He sets the expectations for his players and team, reacts both positively or negatively depending on the situation and never hides things. You definitely know where you stand.

The not so good press conferences are the ones that you listen and count the cliché’s that come out. I think the most over used one is, we or they made more “plays.” Okay part of me knows what he or she is trying to say, doing what they are expected to do, going above the average level of performance or maybe it is just being flexible to accomplish the outcome as expected.  At first, I thought this was football only item, but it is in every coaches vocabulary now. Baseball coaches use it – come on. The pitcher pitched the ball, we called for a curve outside and he delivered it perfectly. He made a few plays. Or one better, the batter digs in looking fastball, fastball low and inside comes and he hits it out of the ballpark. Isn’t that better than our team made a few more plays than the other and this carried us to victory. Of course, there are a ton more cliché’s that we get to hear. We take it one X (day, game, inning, period, quarter, play) at a time. I like that one second best! Why? Common sense, but we have to say it in order to believe it.

Managers have their own style’s. Not many get press conferences, but they do have meetings, presentations and daily presence to contend with. For me, I like to be insightful and entertaining. I really don’t like the following cliché’s:

  • Think outside the box (anyone ever been stuck in the box)
  • Win/Win (I guess I would rather we all lose)
  • Low hanging Fruit (always comes out to be take the easiest and don’t worry about the tough stuff)
  • Take ownership (no way, I would rather pass the buck and let the other guy worry about it. Damn I am a leader – I don’t need to be told to take ownership)
  • Take Off-line (how many times does it get addressed, ever?)


Sports and managing are alike, no saying otherwise. We all can take the best from those that we admire and respect. We also can insure that we do not follow the examples we find do not work.

  • Steve,
    At a past company that you are all too familiar with, we played business meeting bingo. We used the template from and added our own cultural phrases. It became so popular that everyone was invited in on it and it became a strong cultural introduction and enhancement tool. Statements like – “OK, we have to add that phrase to Bingo” coached us to say what we me really mean. It became very effective and a lot of fun. And yes, there were specific client phrases on the list – “But what about Portland!”

  • Jeff – I have used that as well.. My spin on it was, only a few of us played and the first one that had a real bingo – yelled it out. Folks in the meetings were wondering what just happened. During opens, we let the cat out of the bag. After that, the things lighten up some.