Does a Good Player Make a Good Coach?

According to a new paper by Amanda Goodall, Lawrence Kahn, and Andrew Oswald, the answer is yes.

We measure the success of National Basketball Association (NBA) teams between 1996 and 2004, and then attempt to work back to the underlying causes. We have information on 15,040 regular season games for 219 coach-season observations, for which we compute winning percentages; in addition, we study post-season playoff success for these coaches. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a main explanatory factor is the quality of the group of players. But, less predictably, there seem also to be clear effects from the nature of a team s coach. Teams perform substantially better if led by a coach who was, in his day, an outstanding player.

They also cite evidence that this holds in a context with direct relevance to me: university management.

Goodall finds a positive cross-section correlation between the scholarly quality of presidents and the academic excellence of their institutions, and some evidence, for a set of British universities, that those led by highly cited scholars show improved performance over the ensuing decade.

So if your boss is incapable of doing your job, perhaps he or she isn’t much chop as a manager.

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3 Responses to Does a Good Player Make a Good Coach?

  1. Kevin Cox says:

    This makes the idea that seems to pervade the public service that a good manager can manage anything a little suspect and especially when your manager is not really interested in your work but only wants to “manage”.

    Managers should not spend too much time “managing” but they should try to remove obstacles to workers and that is why someone who understands the task is a better manager because they know what is needed in your environment.

  2. reason says:

    Basketball is unusual in that it is so high scoring and games are so frequent. This suggests that the skill factor is more important than motivation. This is not necessarily so in other team sports.

  3. Helen Dunchue says:

    So this concept surely needs to be considered by people promoting that Schools and Education can be managed by people without a Degree in Education or who have never taught. In the same vein, the argument that non education people managing a school is the same as a hospital being managed by a Board of non medical people is then also a non argument and in fact points toward the fact that maybe this is one of the reasons why we are having problems in our Hospitals and Health System.

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