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Castles by Ants – Episode 30: Supporter and Expert Coaches

An ongoing series about psychology in the world of sport.

The Supporter coach lives for the team. For them, it is of utmost importance that they have to work for the team and fight for the team. Their goal is to build a team where this is the value system that matters. They give up their individual interests or push them to the backburner with the aim of creating a welcoming and informal atmosphere. Thus, it is no surprise that they find it hard to tolerate those whose Supporter factor does not reach the minimum level. They are in a constant fight with the Ruler players, as these players typically do not respect them and also place themselves above the team. And this is a cardinal sin in the eyes of a Supporter coach. They are typically the type of people who, although they are afraid of making decisions, will eliminate the big stars from the team, and will develop players with weaker abilities (but more energy and dedication). The Supporter coach should be used for long-term, stable development, where the task is to build a likeable team. They are not going to re-create the team from one season to the next. They are significantly more successful as club coaches than at the national level, where we rarely encounter successful versions of them. The chase and pressure are simply not their cup of tea. They simply collapse under the weight of having to deliver results in a couple of weeks. If they do join national teams, they almost always react by putting on a Ruler mask, meaning that they look like real leaders for a while, but during a world competition, this illusion is always shattered.

The Expert coach wants results. And the only result is victory! In order to achieve this, they make every objective and emotional decision, if needed. They build a system in which every player has their function. Whoever refuses to join the system will get kicked off the team, no questions asked. They do not pick and choose based on who they do not like. They set moral and performance standards. They inform the team about these standards, and if the player accepts these, what kind of personality type they represent becomes completely secondary. They can put together the most diverse team, meaning that in the team of a good Expert, every personality type has their own place, so whatever happens during a given game, the team is able to react to the situation at hand. Precisely because of their professional knowledge, the players with other personality types will find it easy to work with them, making the cooperation free of emotion and truly result oriented. They are the masters of deliberate development. They should be used in situations where they can be given a free hand in order to achieve long-term results and where they don’t have to face the expectation to deliver immediately. If these criteria are fulfilled, they are capable of delivering outstanding results both at the club and the national level. Although for the Expert coach, it is usually the club that is the best breeding ground, as in that case they are in continuous contact with the players and can hold trainings every day. Today, however, more and more countries organise their national teams in a way that the players can spend a lot of time together. These coaches develop their national teams slower, but progress steadily.

Although the Expert coach’s main goal is to win, we should not jump to the conclusion that they are the best choice in all cases. There can be many different expectations and situations at a club or national team that necessitate coaches with different personality types. The point is that we should know what the goals are and find the appropriate professional to achieve them! Moreover, it is worth following trends; if every head coach of the eight best teams in two consecutive world competitions has the same personality type, we, as sports executives, should think about whether it is worth it to swim against the tide.


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Castles by Ants – Episode 29: Ruler and Individual Coaches