Talent and Coaching and Recruiting

It seems to me that there are two aspects to success:  good players combined with good coaching.  When a team loses there is always talk of how much better and easier it would be if the players were better.  ("We need racehorses, not camels!")  When the team wins its because the players were better than the others.  Even when they haven't won before.  ("They won because they have the best players, anyone could coach them to victory.")  Someone who has won more championships in the NBA than any other coach, and coached some of the best players to have played the game, only one 'Coach of the Year' once, for this  very reason.

Now, I'm the first to say that its not about the coaches, its about the players.  But somehow, somewhere, players who were camels become racehorses.  The team that 'didn't know what it takes to win', somehow learned how to win.  Where from?

There has been a lot of research done about teams who get the 'best talent' and what happens afterwards.  There seems to be little evidence that the players who are selected as the 'best racehorses' ultimately don't directly lead to success in team sports.

It makes me think that talent isn't about camels and racehorses, its not about talent and coaching, and its not about recruiting the right players.  Its more like muscle fibres, some are camels, some are racehorses, but some can go either way.  The thing is, we completely overestimate the number of young racehorses.  That is, the young ones we think are talented, are really just young athletes who could go either way, depending on the mental and emotional attributes they have, and the learning/development environment they have.

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  2. I've also heard competitors referred to as "cattle". eg "We didn't have the cattle to win"...

    I think success is still largely about recruiting whether it be in any industry. As I explain to people why I don't want to be a manage in the public service: "Can't fire, don't hire, don't manage" (and by extension "don't coach"). I have lost with good talent but I've never won without it.


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