Coaching, Thoughts and Meditations – What Makes a Coach?

by | Jul 12, 2020 | Esports, League of Legends | 0 comments

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What does coaching mean in esports, really? When I was starting out as a coach for League of Legends, I thought it really meant that I would just be doing research and helping my players get better, helping them make choices while I can talk to them, and guiding them towards victory. For the most part, I was right. I had to do a lot of research, and my work definitely involved helping my players improve and in general work towards winning, but I wasn’t really aware of what that entailed.

 

More than just being knowledgeable about the game and teaching the players how to get better individually, I had to make sure that they worked together. A team should function as a unit, something that’s not really always immediately easy for people. And making sure that they meshed well with each other was all up to me. That was where coaching actually came into the picture.

 

Granted, a lot of players are easy to work with, but they all have their own little kinks and tendencies. They all had their own personalities. Aside from just knowing how they played, I had to know how they were as people. I had to know how they thought, I had to know how they felt. That was the key to being an effective and respectable leader to five other people. Because when you’re coaching a team, your players rely on you. They give you their trust, they give you their respect. And you have to uphold that to the best of your ability.

 

I had made a friend who also coached League of Legends. We talked at length about the difficulties and little snags, the trepidation involved in leading five or more people. His approach to coaching was slightly different from mine. He was a bit more rigid, more insistent on efficiency and what was working elsewhere. He had the players’ best interests in mind for sure, but his style just meant that he didn’t adapt as much to what the players wanted. 

 

I’ve tried coaching as prescriptively as him before, and I knew how difficult it could get. Your players trust you, and they have faith in you. But things don’t always work out. When you overrule a player who disagrees with you, that means you feel their failure even more. And that can get quite heavy quite quickly.

 

First of all, you already immediately blame yourself when your team loses. You led them, you taught them. Their defeat is yours and your first thought is “What could I have done better?” “What could I have changed so that things could have worked out?” And it just feels so much worse when someone gave you other options. It feels so much worse when someone disagreed with you and you overruled them.

 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from coaching teams, from coaching people, it’s that you should listen to them. You know what could work best theoretically, but praxis precedes theory. You could know every right answer to every question, but what’s more important is that you know every person that works with you and how they can work best. Coaches handle players. But a coach, I believe, should never just think of it that way. More than anything, coaches work with people.

 

Every player is different, and you have to recognize that. Coaches are there not just to tell the people what’s right, they’re there to bring out the best in everyone, as much as they can. And that’s what I try to do. That’s what I want to do. Now, when I talk to someone that I’m going to be working with, I immediately focus on one thing: how can I make this person be the best that they can be?

 

Check out the next part of this series on coaching here.

 

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