When there came a need to hire a new basketball coach at the high school I had attended three of five school board members asked me about the then JV coach. This both flattered and overwhelmed me. I remember thinking "why me" and also what an awesome responsibility had come my way. I knew the coach in question as a coach and just a bit away from the game. I believed him to be a good coach and loved the way he interacted with the team in the huddle and from the sideline. He received my endorsement and remains as a coach in the same school district to this day.
Of all the coaches from my youth it is probably Larry Lewis who had the greatest impact on me and he never actually coached me. Larry was a football coach up until I entered high school and a successful one at that. However, it was as a youth baseball coach that I came to admire his coaching style the most. I had seen the fiery side of Larry on the football field. He had been an assistant coach under Bo Schembechler assistantss Jim Young and Larry Smith before assuming the reigns as head coach, Cut from the same mold on the football sidelines.
As a youth baseball coach for my younger brothers team Larry was one of the calmest coaches I have ever been around. He spoke to the boys in a soft voice. When discipline was necessary he did it in private and often with an arm draped around the shoulders of the boy he was addressing. When mistakes were made he taught the game, again in a soft but firm voice. I don't know that his teams were the most talented, but they rarely lost a game. The importance of coach / player relationships made a lasting impression on me.
To be perfectly honest, it took me a while to find my own coaching style. As I stated earlier, I spent a lot of time observing other people coach. I took what I liked from each and tried to incorporate those traits into my own style. Sometimes this worked and sometimes if did not. I learned through trial and error that in the end I had to be me, but all these observations and trying of different approaches did help mold me as a coach.
And then I began coaching soccer.
Almost everything I had learned about coaching became irrelevant only I did not recognize this for a number of years. Oh, the focus on FUNdamentals and basic tactics remained important, but nearly everything I knew about managing a game was no longer applicable only I did not recognize this. I have written many times that soccer is a player driven game and my approach was still that of a coach driven game. This realization sank in over the course a couple seasons. And I remember quite distinctly parents noticing the change in my in-game behavior. My own wife encouraged me to become more vocal from the sidelines during the game - to "coach like you used to coach" - and this was seconded by other parents.
And I did go back and forth over the course of a few seasons. I'm not sure if it was a matter of old habits dying hard or it taking time for my belief in the new coaching style to fully take root in me. Probably a little of both. Then came a day when I discovered the most important game day soccer coaching tool known to mankind.