Coach’s Playlist

Anyone like me who shares a passion for sport and the many life lessons it brings our way will absolutely love the Netflix Series “A Coach’s Playbook”: it is a TV series in which five top coaches are interviewed and share their top five mantras that they have learned along their coaching journey.


So I thought I would share with you my key takeaways from each of the coaches who were interviewed.


  1. Doc Rivers (Men’s Basketball)

This guy did well as a player but was not a great of the game compared to MJ etc. However as a coach he seems to have definitely found his calling and he takes what he missed out on as a player into his hunger to succeed as a coach.

  1. Pressure is a privilege: embrace it, want it, wallow in it almost
  2. Finish the race: see things through to the end
  3. You will NOT be a victim: be strong when it comes to those things you will not compromise on and stick to your principles
  4. Ubuntu: your sense of self is shaped by the relationships you build with others
  5. Champions keep moving ahead: never stand still and say I have done it all now: always looking for ways to stretch themselves and improve


  1. Jill Ellis (Women’s football)

Similar to Doc, Jill was a decent player at college but by no means a star but she found early on that she was drawn to the art of coaching and it is here that she found great success both at College level and in leading the US Women’s team to becoming World No 1 ranked soccer team. All this despite lots of personal challenges she faced along the way.

  1. Mountain tops are small and the air is thin up there: learn how to stay on top when you get to the top
  2. Hold fast, stay true: believe in yourself even in the toughest times
  3. See risk as opportunity: be brave, take chances, make mistakes
  4. Be true to yourself: the importance of authenticity and vulnerability
  5. If you want to be heard, make a statement: Jill supported the players protest re equal pay with the men


  1. Jose Mourinho (men’s football)

A few years ago “the special one” could hardly do no wrong: his sides were winning championships and trophies and the media loved him. Then his bubble burst somewhat when he failed to win anything at Man UTD. In this interview JM shares the early part of his coaching success in quite an understated way…for him at least!

  1. Understand your audience: he felt he had an innate ability to understand the people on the street, the fan base early on and in doing so play to their wishes
  2. The underdog attacks: he loved playing on being the underdog against the bigger clubs on the European stage but underneath he was very much ruthless in his calculating of how and when to attack his team’s opponents
  3. Some rules are meant to be broken: always being prepared to push the boundaries to support the team/club even if it meant hiding in a laundry basket!
  4. The train does not stop twice: make the most of what you have in the moment
  5. Don’t coach the player, coach the team: adaptability to a team cause and strategy ie leaving Bale out currently and yet Spurs sit at the top of the EPL..


  1. Patrick Mouratoglou (tennis)

Claim to fame is his association with Serena Williams and her plaudits of him.

Self confessed introvert and someone who from a very young age lacked the confidence to express himself verbally in the company of others and yet at the same time studied the behaviour of others very closely and in doing so came to realise that he was very good at this.

  1. Your biggest weakness can be your greatest strength
  2. Never be afraid to get fired: be firm in your resolve about what you believe in
  3. Mistakes are ok but do not let them define you
  4. Avoid making decisions based on just emotion
  5. Let your players know that they are not alone: be there to support them come what may


  1. Dawn Staley (women’s basketball)

Grew up from very humble beginnings and fought hard to compete for attention with older brothers on the basketball court. Achieved great success at High School with her basketball and was drafted by big University as a result. She found this a real challenge academically and socially but remained steadfast in her pursuit of excellence on the court.

  1. Bring your own ball: stand up for yourself if you want to avoid getting overlooked
  2. Growth comes from taking yourself out of your comfort zone: keep pushing, keep challenging, know that is ok to feel uncomfortable with new challenges
  3. Create a home court advantage: Dawn was instrumental in engaging the local community to build up a support base that became unrivalled on the colleague basketball circuit.
  4. When you make someone else feel better, they want to help you succeed
  5. 24 hours rule: win or lose, move on from this after a day of reliving the experience


There were many other parts to the individual interviews that really grabbed my attention but what I thought intriguing was that none of these individuals came from a privileged background; none of them got to the top of their sport professionally a player and yet each of them became incredibly successful in their own rights as a coach and had their own underpinning values that they believed helped them pave the way for that success.


I think it is a great idea to try to describe what our own coaching mantras are. I would describe mine as:

  1. Create an environment for everyone to succeed and own their game
  2. Learn how to lose well and win well/Show respect to the game and everyone connected to it
  3. Always find a positive to convey to a player/team regardless of result
  4. Always be hungry to learn more and to improve
  5. Development first/results second


What are your Top Five Coaching Mantras?