There are infinite lessons that can be learned by studying the lives of the most successful coaches. Leaders in a wide range of fields, therefore, frequently look to professional sports coaches to learn how to inspire their teams to perform their best. Students can also look to professional coaches as a source of inspiration and guidance for their future careers.
1. John Wooden
John Wooden, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 99, was one of the most revered college football coaches of all time. Wooden was famous for his time at UCLA, where he led the school’s NCAA basketball team to win 10 championships. He was also famous for his activities off the basketball court. He fought in World War II at the age of 32 and wrote more than two dozen books on leadership and management. Wooden was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960, and his legendary status continues to live on both at UCLA and across the nation.
2. Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick is known for his polarizing style, but he is also single-handedly responsible for making the New England Patriots into what they are today. Belichick started his career as an assistant coach for the Baltimore Colts, then spent more than a decade with the New York Giants; there, Belichick, alongside Ray Perkins, led the Giants to win two Super Bowls. In 1990, Belichick became head coach of the Cleveland Browns before being fired four years later. However, Belichick rebounded by heading the Patriots from 2000 onwards, and he has retained his position ever since due to his track record as one of the most effective coaches in sports history.
3. Woody Hayes
Woody Hayes is a legend for his record with the Ohio State Buckeyes, and he is generally regarded as one of the best college football coaches of all time. In fact, Hayes’ record is so impressive that he even tops that of Jim Tressel, the more well-known Ohio State football coach who led the Buckeyes to six Big Ten championships. Hayes won 13 Big Ten championships, and led the team through its decade-long rivalry with the Michigan Wolverines. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, Hayes passed away in 1987; his status as a legend, however, lives on.
4. John Madden
John Madden is unrivaled in his ability to parlay his successes on the playing field into positions that put him in the media spotlight. Madden’s fame, most importantly, has helped boost interest in football across a wide range of demographics. He started by playing college football, then was drafted into the Philadelphia Eagles; however, Madden suffered a knee injury that ended his playing career before his first game. Instead of giving up, Madden proceeded to launch a career in coaching. He became the youngest NFL coach to win more than 100 games, then retired shortly afterwards. He then started a three-decade career as a media personality, and became a household name by endorsing every Madden NFL video game since 1988.
5. Paul Brown
Paul Brown is a widely admired coach for the leadership roles he took in the founding of two different NFL football teams. After World War II, Brown became the first head coach of what was then called the Cleveland Panthers. He did so well at leading his team that, after initially refusing the honor, he finally relented and allowed the team to be renamed the Cleveland Browns. But, shortly after Art Mondell bought the team in 1961, he fired Brown, who then began plotting a grand return to football. Less than a decade later, Brown used his savings to become both the co-founder and head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals; this, combined with his earlier successes, made Paul Brown one of the most admired coaches of all time.
Professional coaches with admirable careers possess the character traits necessary to learn and lead. People who study the lives of professional coaches can improve their ability to perform in almost any profession.