What Makes A Good Coach?

“Work on your weaknesses until they become your strong points.” -Gary Mack


Heather Klauber

Varsity Field Hockey Head Coach Greg Cochrane (right) taking pictures with the team to remember a historic season.

Tate Klauber, Opinion Editor

Going into the field hockey season this year, newly appointed Varsity Head Coach Greg Cochrane had his work cut out for him. 

HB Field Hockey’s record was anything but impressive, with no final fours appearances since 2007. In addition, the team had suffered a devastating loss the year before, losing during double overtime to the returning state champions. The morale was low, and Cochrane knew it. 

And yet, despite all the odds, the team had an incredible season, boasting a whopping 10 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. The girls then went on to return to the final fours for the first time in more than a decade. 

What did Cochrane do as a coach that made this team so successful? How can coaches make an impact on the teams they lead, and what makes the difference between a good coach and a great one?

“Coach [Cochrane] never stopped pushing us to be our greatest, even when we had lost,” said Lindsey Dattis, one of the three captains this year. “He didn’t make excuses for us and he turned our mistakes into motivation rather than frustration. It was obvious that he believed in us 100 percent.”

As the season progressed, the team faced adversity time and time again. In previous years the team’s mindset had been that one loss typically led to more losses, but surprisingly, Cochrane didn’t think like that at all. 

Sports psychologist Gary Mack, author of the book “Mind Gym; An Athlete’s Guide To Inner Excellence,” says that “Your attitude more than your aptitude determines your altitude – how high you go, how high you climb the ladder of success.”

Is this the secret to Cochrane’s success? Could his attitude be enough to make the team great, or is there more to it?

“I think having a passion for what you are doing is really important,” said Rebecca “Balf” Balfour, head coach of HB’s renowned division one varsity volleyball team. “It’s just really leading by example, and showing your players that you’re concerned about the process, about the journey, about their experience.”

At the height of their success with Balfour, HB Volleyball boasted a 75-game winning streak. “I had no idea that we were on a winning streak, I don’t concern myself with that,” Balfour said.

In the words of Mack, “Success comes from the peace of mind of knowing you did your very best.”

Winning or losing, one of the things that makes a good coach great is their ability to focus on things other than the score line. Focusing on your team’s culture and perspective is crucial to the team’s success, and this is what Cochrane did when he became head coach this year. He noticed the team’s weakness, and over the course of the season, he made it one of the team’s leading factors of success.