Old School vs New School Coaching

When it comes to sports and coaching, people like to debate about what's better, old school or new school philosophies. I'm not here to say that one is better than the other. I'm here to say that both schools have their strengths and weaknesses, and it is wise to learn from both of them.

What does "old school" and "new school" even mean when it comes to sports and coaching? Before having a debate, you have to define the terms. I define old school sports/coaching as the stereotypes associated with the past. The past can mean 50 years ago, 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, since sports and coaching are always changing. I define new school sports/coaching as the stereotypes associated with the present or more recent years.

It is important to understand that with old school athletes and coaches of the past, not everyone had the same exact beliefs, attitudes, training styles, and playing styles. The same thing applies to new school coaches today. Stereotypes are just generalizations. There were coaches in the past that had beliefs and habits that align closely to the new school. And there are coaches today who are very old school. With that being said, let me characterize the main qualities of both schools.

Here are the 3 main characteristics of the old school way of sports and coaching:
A love for the game

These were the things that mattered most in the past. Discipline and toughness were highly valued in the past. Coaches were demanding, and athletes were more willing to put their bodies on the line in order to succeed. In order to be tough and disciplined, athletes had to love both the game and the grind. This was the recipe for success. Athletes and coaches rose up the ladder of success by how well they embraced these three things.

However, as time went on, athletes and coaches learned that there's more to sports and success than just toughness, discipline, and love for the game. This led to new philosophies about sports and coaching. The new school way of sports revolves around one word: innovation.

As time passed, athletes and coaches found innovating ways to play and train better. People began making sports into a science and studied it to find competitive advantages. The most notable innovations in recent decades include things such as better nutrition, fitness training, rehab, biomechanics, sports analytics, and sports psychology.

Nowadays, there is so much information, experts, and resources that can benefit athletes and coaches. New school coaches of today tend to really embrace innovations, new trends, and new technology. They don't only rely on traditional wisdom and the traditional ways of doing things. They are always experimenting to find better ways to train and perform.

Old school coaches of today, on the other hand, tend to stick the basics and are more skeptical of new trends. They stay true to their roots of toughness, discipline, and love for the game, and don't worry too much about anything else.

There are pros and cons to both schools. The good part about old school coaching is that it values some of the most important aspects of sports, such as toughness, discipline, and love for the game. These things are so important that if you just focus on them, you'll go pretty far. However, there are limits to old school coaching. Sports have become so competitive that you can't reach the top without benefiting from modern innovations. Another shortcoming of the old school philosophy is that it isn't always healthy. Placing too much emphasis on toughness can lead to injuries as well as mental illness. Lastly, kids these days don't often respond well to old school coaches who yell a lot at their players. New school coaches, on the other hand, have found better ways to treat and motivate their players.

The main benefits of new school coaching come from the increased efficiency that innovations provide. By embracing new ideas and technology, you can improve your training and performance greatly. However, new school coaches need to be very careful. If a new school coach places too much emphasis on innovations, they can lose focus on what matters most, which is discipline, toughness, and love for the game. All the innovations in the world don't mean much if you don't have what matters most. Secondly, not every new idea is helpful. You have to be careful about following new trends. New ideas may actually cause more harm than good. For example, a new diet may be based on pseudoscience, and therefore could be unhealthy. 

Luckily, this isn't an either-or decision. You don't have to be entirely old school or new school in your approach to sports and coaching. You can take the good parts of both schools and leave the bad things behind. You can do this by placing great value on discipline, toughness, and love for the game, but embracing innovations as well. This is the rational thing to do. Don't be too attached to either school. Don't try to be an old school coach or a new school coach. Instead, strive to be the BEST coach that you can be.