Super coaching: Former NFL cornerback on impacting young lives
By Greg Bach
During his 14-year NFL career cornerback Tyrone Poole – a two-time Super Bowl winner – played for some truly great coaches: Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan and Dom Capers among them.
And he learned something from each of these coaching giants that he uses these days as a volunteer youth coach that kids genuinely love playing for and learning from.
“Kids are some of the smartest people in this world and they recognize when you are for them and when you’re not,” says Poole, who has coached everything from boys and girls flag football to basketball and baseball. “You have to come with real passion and if the kids see that you care about them and are involved as much as they are they will engage better.”
Poole, the 22nd overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, won back-to-back Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.
“I always tell kids that I didn’t just wake up knowing how to do a particular drill,” Poole says. “You have to understand that the kids are going to struggle and you have to recognize when they need a pat on the back. I think if you can understand those things and paint those pictures for kids they will engage with you and always want to be around you.”
The author of “Ultimate Success in the Game of Life,” Poole coaches kids today like he played during his NFL career – with high energy, incredible passion and a giant smile on his face.
“I had one parent come up and tell me, ‘Our daughter has done a 180 since she has been with you. She used to be shy but now she has come out of her shell,’” Poole shared. “I’m just out to try and bring the best out of the kids, whether it’s 8-year-old third graders or soon-to-be teenage girls. I give them high fives, fist bumps and soft hugs when they’ve done great and just to see that smile on their face – it’s fun when you have that impact on people’s lives. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”
Poole spoke with SportingKid Live in an exclusive interview. Here’s what else he had to say on making a difference in kids’ lives:
“I tell the kids that I coach that if at the end of the day you can say that you gave your best effort that’s all that matters,” Poole says. “If you give your best effort you’re going to win more than you’re going to lose, but you will lose some, too. But if you give your best effort and you keep coming back then you are a winner.”
“I learned from him how to motivate players, how to get the best out of players and how to put them in situations where they can be successful,” Poole says.
For example, when Poole coaches third graders in youth baseball he’ll mark an ‘X’ in the outfield where each player needs to be.
“I tell them no matter what that’s the mark they need to run back to every time,” Poole says. “So I’m putting them in position where they can make a play. So I learned that from Bill Belichick – put your players in position where they can make a play.”
“With Mike Shanahan I learned to let players be who they are,” Poole says. “I’m not going to change you; all I’m going to do is put you in the best position to help the team win, but I’m going to let you be you as long as you are respectful to the team.”
“There’s Jerry Rice and then there’s everybody else,” Poole says when asked who was the toughest receiver he faced during his NFL career. “I think what made Jerry so tough to cover is he would just run and run and the fact that he did everything 100 percent full speed. So like I tell the kids I coach, ‘If you give your full effort then at the end of the day you will be where you want to be.’”
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