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Whacking a Coaching Myth, Sopranos Style

By sports coach UK research Consultant Michael Hopkinson @mhopcoach

I’ve recently started watching the Sopranos again, right from the beginning. If you haven’t seen it I can’t recommend it enough.

Anyway, as I was making my way through Season 2 this week an episode that really stood out was Boca. It’s based on Tony’s daughter’s high school soccer coach, Coach Hauser.

Without ruining it for you, it’s an episode which asks a lot of moral questions about the coach-participant relationship, but I was more interested in how the writers presented the coach, and how the parents in the Sopranos viewed him in the beginning.
Wearing a tracksuit, complete with whistle, crew-cut and an incredibly loud booming voice, Hauser is your classic stereotype, an aggressive, push-you-to-the limit coach.Screaming instructions to the players - “Eyes ahead, energy girls, come on, energy, let’s go! Hey nobody blew a whistle, give me 20 laps around the field, go, move it!” – Tony, Carmella and the other parents with kids on the team thought highly of Hauser. He was bringing the best out of the players, why wouldn’t they?

Well, things soon get a lot more complicated, but the character of Hauser really got me thinking. Is that image of a coach really still relevant? Do people actually see coaches in that way, or was this episode a product of its time? It was released in 1999 after all.

Thankfully, I’m pleased to say that on these shores at least, this stereotype, perception or myth, whatever you want to call it, isn’t a view that’s held by the majority of people.

We’ve recently conducted a new piece of research exploring how the general public perceive coaches and coaching. Using word association and other techniques, we found the perception of coaches as strict, aggressive and tough is very much a minority view.

Instead, the research suggests words like patient, passionate and friendly are much more closely aligned to the general public’s perceptions of coaches.

I doubt there will ever be another television series as good as the Sopranos, but if anything does come close, I hope any coach characters are portrayed in a more realistic light.

Keep an eye on our website, Twitter and research pages to see more from our perceptions research soon.