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The Education of a Coach Hardcover – November 1, 2005
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Bill Belichick+s thirty-one years in the NFL have been marked by amazing success-most recently, his wins in two of the last three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. In this groundbreaking new book, David Halberstam explores the nuances of both the game and the man behind it. He uncovers what makes Bill Belichick tick both on and off the field, as a coach, a father, and a son. -I+ve been fascinated by Bill Belichick for more than twenty years, going back to the time when he was a young coach in his early thirties working with the linebackers on the Giants,+ Halberstam writes. -There was, I thought, a certain signature to a Belichick game+I was fascinated by that, and by the fact that he seemed so uncoachlike, or perhaps the prototype for a very different kind of modern coach in what is an increasingly complicated game+.+
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Here he tackles the subject of Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, and how this man has created a sports dynasty in an age where all the rules were designed to discourage such a creation.
The author's words flow like poetry. Even if you are uninterested in the subject of the book, it is still compelling. There are a number of reasons to read a book like this, which may be far removed from your own area of expertise, and even normal interest.
Great learning sometimes involves people going outside their expertise. In doing so, it can make for great discoveries, and finding a fascinating idea or concept that a person would never think of for themselves in their daily work. Whether that work is being a Nobel Prize winning researcher in string theory, or a gent that builds cars, the bottomline always seems to be the same. These people can then bring these new ideas, and learnings into their own circle of competence, and appropriate it for what it is they are doing on a daily basis.
In this book, you learn about getting the edge on your fellow competitors. You learn about dedication, focus, and execution. We may talk about execution in business, but in business or government, it might take years before you know the results of the project you are working on. Not so in the world of sports. You make an adjustment on a football team like Coach Belichick, and you might know in 30 seconds if you look STUPID.
Usually wherever I am I have a selection of books with me. I read on average, about a book a day. Fortunately, my work allows me this luxury. Actually when I think about it, I am better at my work for the reading than if I did something else. This is probably true for you also. We read because we are compelled to read. I read the Education of a Coach while flying cross-country, and literally couldn't put it down, that's how Halberstam GRABS you as a reader.
What is absolutely fascinating to me is Coach Belichick learning at his father's knee about football. The father was a scout who really did not make it as far as he should have in the world of football. He did have a studious and willing son who is the subject of this book. The child was desirous of learning everything his father could teach him. I am reminded in many ways of the relationship that Tiger Woods had with his own father.
Just listen to a few words that Halberstam writes of the values that the father instilled in the son, "You worked hard. You saved. You did not waste anything. If possible, you grew your own food. You did not complain. You did not expect anyone to do anything for you. Discipline was not so much taught as it was lived, as an essential part of life for which there was no alternative."
This is reading folks, compelling reading. Learn how a masterful football coach learned the game, and taught a team how to play the game. This is the real thing, and Halberstam is at his best, when writing about what's real. You will love this book, even if you don't like sports.
This first deployment of the author's considerable skills on American football is the literary equivalent of a successful Hail Mary pass. Offered late in the game with but perhaps one chance to win the battle, a high-risk throw is tossed into the air with the hope that somebody down there might make the unlikely victorious grab.
The reader does.
Bill Belichick, the now-legendary head coach of the New England Patriots teams that dominated the NFL at the midpoint of the new century's first decade, comes under Halberstam's gaze. This cerebral, obsessively disciplined anti-celebrity with his passion for building a team on good value from the ground up is not at first glance a compelling subject for a professional biography. Yet Halberstam's gift is for discerning just how a key persona decided to move against the grain of a profession's received wisdom without necessarily calling attention to his methodological heresy.
Quietly building up 'Belichick University' while traversing the serial failures that are the calling card of professional coaching and coaches, Coach Belichick built a different kind of team and did the Thing that can almost not be imagined: he changed the NFL.
As he tells the story, quickly convincing his reader that it is a fascinating tale that merits his readers attention even as civil wars, terrorist alarm, and global warming conspire to argue that sport is an irrelevance, Halberstam scatters observations and knowing turns of phrase that leaders of any profession are likely to find invaluable.
Even if you thought the Patriots were a missile defense system, read this book.
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