Tynesia Boyea-Robinson
Executive director, non-profit

Tynesia Boyea-Robinson

Executive director, Year Up D.C., which provdes urban young adults with the skills, experience and support to propel them into higher education and professional careers


Poise counts

Q: University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams, who was just voted ACC Coach of the Year, gets so frenzied during games that he sweats through his suits. How does that arm-waving, finger-jabbing style contribute to his team's success? And why do other successful coaches pride themselves on their composure?

I am an alumni of Duke, the ACC tournament and regular season champs, so it may not even be fair to ask me this question. That being said, I have never been a supporter of the blustery leader who yells and screams to get what she needs. I do not question the effectiveness of this approach, especially for coaches, to motivate teams to reach a goal. This is mostly an external stimulus to produce a desired outcome.

As it relates to college students, however, success cannot be chalked up to just the wins on the court. Perhaps the coaches who adopt a calmer approach are focused more on the success their student athletes will pursue post graduation. College sports are an amazing way to teach mental toughness and provide tools on how to achieve in the face of adversity. Now more than ever, our young people need to be taught how to do this with composure and poise.

This is especially important for young people of color, who are an overwhelming majority in popular sports like basketball and football.

It is common knowledge that a recession affects minorities disproportionately to their peers. In fact, this is even more severe for black youth, who currently are facing a 49 percent unemployment rate, and those with jobs are the first to be let go and the last to get hired in economic downturns.

Given the influence coaches have on young people's personal and professional development, I would prefer to have my son or daughter under the Zen-minded tutelage of Phil Jackson. This approach forces our young people to develop the internal stimulus and motivation to achieve. I imagine when they're "passing" resumes or doing interview "drills," a calm head will be much more effective in winning the game.

By Tynesia Boyea-Robinson  |  March 15, 2010; 5:57 PM ET  | Category:  coaching Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The true test of a coach | Next: Let Gary be Gary


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Immediately below this is one hell of a post.

Posted by: esocci | March 17, 2010 8:12 PM
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Much of leadership is about your own personal style, which is what it is. Gary is a screamer and an overtly passionate guy -- so that is how he coaches, because he has no choice. On balance, that approach seems to have worked as measured by win-loss record -- obviously, enough players have played well because of that style, or at least in spite of it.

The downside of that style, however, can be seen in the other "teaching opportunities" that arise in the college context. For example, when Gary directs his inherent passion to defending a graduation rate that is not defensible, to attacking refs and the ACC for conspiring against him and his team when they fail, to trying to justify fan violence and obscene taunts that cannot be justified, to publicly feuding with his own athletic director (i.e., his boss) -- then we see the true downside of a "frenzied" leader, because we see that the finger-jabbing (and where he assigns blame to others, finger-pointing) extends to areas where, unlike in sports, it is rarely appropriate. A college coach serves as a role model to a greater degree than a pro coach does. If a coach's style produces results on the court yet conveys dubious lessons about how to conduct yourself off of it, I'm not sure you can -- or that you should -- deem it successful.

Posted by: VoiceofReason2010 | March 17, 2010 4:21 PM
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Basketball, like some other sports, is about passion.

Players like to see that their coach is as invested emotionally in the conduct and performance of of the team as they themselves are.

It's what he is telling his team, not how he tells them. If his principles are sound and his reasonings understandable, that he is telling them at a decible level above that of casual conversation is no vice.

Remember, Williams has been at this for awhile and has acheived a measure of success that other coaches can only dream about.

Posted by: joecairo | March 17, 2010 4:02 PM
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Kneejerkliberal - I can only assume you're a Maryland fan, and thus a knee jerk Duke hater. Duke *is* the regular season champ - sharing the title still means you carry the title. I also suspect you read no further than the first paragraph.

I, however, have, and totally agree with everything Tynesia says.

Posted by: blahblah6b | March 17, 2010 3:45 PM
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First of all it is difficult to take anything you suggest as accurate when your first sentence carries a (probably intended) falsehood - "I am an alumni of Duke, the ACC tournament and regular season champs, so it may not even be fair to ask me this question". Duke was not the regular season champ. Maryland and Duke were co-champions of the ACC. So yes you cannot offer a fair answer since your opinion is so obviously colored.

You must not have seen any Duke games either because you would have seen and heard K screaming his fool head off any number of times.

Posted by: kneejerkliberal | March 15, 2010 9:21 PM
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