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The Education of a Coach Hardcover – November 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer-winning journalist and author Halberstam focuses on Bill Belichick, one of the NFL's most successful coaches, and the game of football as a team sport with rich detail, exacting research and colorful anecdotes. He reveals what fans of the head coach of the New England Patriots have always known: the roots of Belichick's coaching lie in the essential mentoring by his father, an excellent teacher and college coach who taught his son how to scout players and teams, instructing the author on how to study films of players when he was just nine years old. As an assistant coach working with Bill Parcells's New York Giants in the 1980s, Belichick's "football first" credo was born of precision and discipline. He went on to guide the Patriots to win three Super Bowls in four years (2002, 2004 and 2005). Halberstam brings to his seventh sports book an encyclopedic knowledge of football, a firm grasp on the inner workings of effective coaching, an understanding of the systematic roles of the players and a shrewd psychological analysis of Belichick himself as a man and team leader. His book reminds readers that "residence at the top [is] as much a product of good fortune as it [is] of talent, willpower and planning." (Nov.)
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From Booklist

Bill Belichick is the head coach of the New England Patriots and a second-generation descendant of a determined Croatian immigrant family. The Pats have won three of the last four Super Bowls, an extraordinary accomplishment in an NFL that is structured to prevent extended dominance by one team. Celebrated investigative journalist Halberstam, who likes to do a sports book now and then, was first drawn to Belichick when he was a young linebacker coach with the New York Giants in the mid-eighties. He tells Belichick's story as part of the larger context of his family's acclimation to America during the Depression, and he spends as much time on Belichick's high-school and college years as he does on his career as a professional coach. Belichick learned his trade early on (his father was a football coach, too) and began breaking down opponents' film when he was nine years old. The natural affinity for x's and o's meshed with a passion for the game and, as Halbertsam tells it, produced a brilliant tactician and an effective leader who draws from the styles of other coaches he has encountered in his career, from a my-way-or-the-highway high-school coach to Andover Academy's Steve Sorota, the quintessential player-empowering coach-as-teacher. As he's done in the past, Halberstam takes the classic sports-bio formula--one stellar performer's rise to the pinnacle of American sport--and transforms it into a nuance-rich story of individual triumph and social history. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: The Education of a Coach
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401301541
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401301545
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has chronicled the social, political, and athletic life of America in such bestselling books as The Fifties, The Best and the Brightest, and The Amateurs. He lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Mark Twain on November 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Halberstam does a nice job explaining how Bill Belichick became a great coach and what drives him. In light of the passing Bill's father Steve, this book is a tribute to his father, a great coach and strategist and what Bill picked up from his father on how to win. Most people think of Bill Belichick as part of a Bill Parcells coaching tree. But this book explains that Belichick is the Paul Brown to Parcells' Lombardi and how Belichick built relationships and learned to build an organization on his way to becoming a coach that wins games by breaking down an opponent as opposed to imposing his will on the opposition.

I would have given the book another star had it gone more into Belichick's personality. But Halberstam told sportsradio WEEI hosts that Belichick did not want this book to be about an ego trip for him. It's too bad because Halberstam never caught Belichick with his guard down. You have to think that Belichick really doesn't want anyone in the public to know him too well. It's almost as if there is an ending waiting be written. You don't find out about Belichick's relationships with Charlie Weis, Tom Brady, Bob Kraft, et al.

Still, it's a great read. You do get enough to understand the contempt Belichick has for Art Modell and an understanding of why he left the Jets and Bill Parcells to go to New England. His decisions, his confidantes, his championships all make sense after you read this book.
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49 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Craig VINE VOICE on November 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Considering the oustanding work Halberstam had done with The Teammates and Summer of '49, I was highly anticipating this release since first hearing of it months ago. And while it turned out be enjoyable, I just feel like there's so much more that could have been explored or explained.

The first part of the book dealing with Bill's dad, Steve, was the part that I found the most interesting. I knew that he's always been considered a superior scout, but it was great to see how he got to that point. Same goes for Bill's entry into the coaching ranks, and the preparation he did even before then to make himself into the great coach he would eventually become.

Where the book fails, in my opinion, is in its exploration of relationships. It talks somewhat of the Parcells-Belichick relationship, but there seems to be a lot left unspoken. Same with that of Parcells and Kraft, or Belichick and his current coaches, or even guys like Weis and Crennel who only recently left.

Halberstam has given what I believe is a look at only one slice of Belichick's life, and there still seems to be room for a more complete look at this great coach. I'd like to hear more first-person comments from other coaches, former coworkers, and current or former players.

I definitely recommend this book, both for the look at Belichick and because Halberstam is a pleasure to read. However, don't expect to learn much about the coach himself, as that will likely be left for another book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Loarie VINE VOICE on January 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of today's great authors, David Halberstam, has written a gem of a book detailing the `process of becoming Bill Belichick,' one of the best football minds ever in the National Football League (NFL). Belichick is the head coach of the New England Patriots NFL team and the winner of three Super Bowls.

Halberstam tells us that Belichick entered the world as the son of a lifer. He was the son of former Navy football coach and scout, Steve Belichick, who was once considered the preeminent football scout in the country. His father, however, never made much money and never enjoyed much fame outside the "hermetically sealed" world of coaching. And he lived (as did the family) with the special uncertainty of a coach - a world without guarantees. Steve felt the job of a good coach was to encourage a boy's better self, to let his confidence grow and to do it ever so gently.

Bill Belichick, well beyond his years in understanding football, went on to Weslyan, a small college in New England. While he played football, he had difficulty, as his size and lack of speed worked against him. He also played lacrosse and enjoyed it immensely, mostly because he admired the coach. The coach had no real knowledge of the game but knew exactly how to handle his players and how to listen to them and use them well. He learned then that players respected coaches who could help them play better and who knew things they did not know. Respect did not flow from a loud and commanding voice, but rather knowledge.

"The Education of a Coach" also details Belichick's early years in the NFL. When he entered the league, he had been a young man teaching older men.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Paul Wiseman on June 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
David Halberstam is one of America's finest journalists. But he's not on top of his game here. A pity: The Bill Belichick story is amazing. The New England Pariots coach has defied the zeitgeist and put together a genuine team at a time when sports are dominated by superstar egos. He has built a dynasty in an era of tepid parity - when last season's Super Bowl contender is gutted by free-agency and misses this season's playoffs. He is bold and innovative in a sport where most coaches favor cover-your-butt tactics. As an Indianapolis Colts fan, heartbroken almost annually by Belichick's genius, I was looking forward to learning how he does it. And Halberstam (whose The Breaks of the Game is my favorite sports book) seemed the right choice to tell the story. But "The Education of a Coach" fell well short of my expectations. Halberstam skims the surface instead of digging deep and sometimes makes odd authorial decisions. In writing about Belichick's disastrous tenure as Cleveland Browns coach and his unpopular decision to bench QB Bernie Kosar, for instance, Halberstam neglects even to tell which quarterback replaced Kosar. And yet he feels it necessary earlier in the book to take a gratuitous swipe at a 1950s Nashville Tennessean sports columnist whose role in the Belichick saga is peripheral at best. He barely mentions key characters such as Belichick assistants Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis - and touches only briefly on the young acolytes who are graduates of "Belichick University." Throughout part of the book, Halberstam cuts back and forth between the story of Bill Belichick and the story of his father, a legendary coach and scout in his own right. But the time-fractured narrative is confusing and repetitive. Sometimes you get the sense that Halberstam doesn't really understand football.Read more ›
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