Coaches Corner: The DNA Of Good Coaches


When I first introduced Joel Walton, I told you that he’s a pretty personable guy. In the time I spent with him during the interview, I gathered that he’s a natural storyteller. Personally, I think being able to tell a good story is a vital characteristic in a coach. You can use it to motivate your team, connect your current team to a past team, or just get a laugh out of your players.

Check out these articles I’ve written on using storytelling with your teams, How To Use Storytelling To Motivate Your Team and Transforming Your Team Through Storytelling, to see if you’re ready to use this coaching tool with your team.

As I spoke with Walton, the head men’s volleyball coach at Ball State University, each story he told held another nugget of coaching wisdom…and without my asking, I saw that he’d given me another article to write. I’m not going to say that these tips are the only way to be a successful coach, but I think they’ll most certainly get you on your way.

5 secrets of good coaches

  1. Be able to tell a story.
  2. Be willing to look crazy. Walton talked about being willing to try tactics that may seem crazy to get a desired result. Every sport has norms…the way things have always been done. Can your team be successful doing things the same way everyone else does or do you have to be innovative?
  3. Be able to manage different personality types. No team is the same and no person on the team is the same so the ability to work with all kinds is pretty important.
  4. Be a teacher. Walton talked about Ball State’s history as a teacher’s college and how many of the alums who went through the program and became coaches learned teaching progressions. I don’t believe you’ve got to be an education major to teach sports, but you do need to learn how to teach skills and how people learn…it’ll make your life so much easier.
  5. Be willing to reach out. In telling me a story about working with one of his players, Walton told me that he made a point to contact the player’s high school coach to find out how he successfully connected with the player. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but of intelligence in my opinion.

So there you have it! Like I said before, there are many more things I could add to the list, but I think this is a very good starting point.

More from the Joel Walton series:
Coaches Corner: Joel Walton
Coaches Corner: On Handling Pressure
Coaches Corner: The DNA Of Good Coaches
Coaches Corner: Managing Various Personality Types

Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches.  I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals. These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!