How to be a Coach: Words of Wisdom from Sir_Cloud
If you're thinking about heading down the career path as a coach in esports, we've got some handy tips for you, courtesy of Sir_Cloud, one of EVOS' latest additions to their Malaysian PUBG Mobile squad. He was kind enough to share with us how he got to where he is, and his advice for aspiring coaches out there.
How did Sir_Cloud become a coach?
He never had any intentions to be an esports coach. He had requests from tier 2 teams to coach them but he rejected them because he didn't have the confidence. At that time, all coaches had professional playing experience, he had none. The most he did was review replays that were sent to him. It was not until Damansara Flash Vision approached him earlier this year that decided to take the challenge head-on.
Sir_Cloud recalls the time when his role with DFV was made public, "I had a follower who told me that he believed in me and he made a comparison to Jose Mourinho who did not have top tier playing experience. Fun fact, he only played 94 games at a minor division!"
Sir_Cloud's role model
When it comes to looking up to somebody for inspiration, Sir_Cloud follows in the footsteps of Liverpool's coach, Jürgen Klopp. Here's what he had to say about him, "I may not be a Liverpool fan but Jurgen Klopp has an interesting coaching style. Besides being a humble man, he is also capable of inspiring his players and creating a shared commitment, teamwork. Needless to say, a game that requires many players will be more complicated to handle."
"One philosophy of his that I found as a standout was as the players walk down the tunnel of Anfield, there is a 'You Will Never Walk Alone' plaque that players would touch as they enter the field. During his reign, he told the players that they are not allowed to touch the plaque unless they win the league. It may sound like a simple request but these small psychological details fueled the players to perform at their best and Liverpool won their first top division league in 20 years."
"He also never fails to celebrate with the team, showing empathy and how important is the human side in bringing the best out of his players. Nobody is treated like a superstar, but everyone pulls their weight equally."
The biggest takeaway he learnt is that "coaching does not only involve the technical side but also it is important to understand the human side."
What skills do aspiring coaches need?
To order to become a coach here's what he thinks are the most important skills:
- Knowledge - the ability to look at the game from a holistic approach (why certain things are being done etc)
- Open mindedness and flexibility
- Knowing that playstyles of other successful teams might not be suitable for all teams
- An analytical mindset and ability to make sense of data
- Emotional intelligence (self-awareness, empathy, motivation, discipline, good social skills) - it is important to connect with players to understand what they are going through and to motivate them
- Knowing that performance isn't only about things that happen in the game, but can also be affected by things outside of the game
- Knowing how to push and motivate players who aren't self-motivated
- The ability to build trust - with the players, management, the system, as well as being trustable to create a positive environment
What defines a good coach?
According to Sir_Cloud, coaching can be both technical and non-technical. Technical ability comes in analyzing, looking at data, making sense of why things happen and following the trend of the game. However, having that knowledge isn't enough - coaches must also be able to communicate their thoughts, so they must have the skills to connect with others.
"For me personally, I work with professional players who have had way more playing experience than me. Taking that into account, my philosophy is that I am not here to teach them how to play the game (they are already amazing at it), but I am here to provide them options, guidance and help them to open up their view of thought (unblock their mind)."
How does one become a coach?
At the moment, there is no clear path to becoming one yet, though it has been a trend for retired professional players to take on the coaching role. But for those who don't have that experience, he recommends that you put yourself out there - knock on doors, approach people, publicize yourself. Get a coaching role first so you have some experience. By doing that, it can be your "resume" for potential employers since they'll be able to assess your abilities that way.
How will aspiring coaches know they've got what it takes to be one?
"If you are able to communicate your thoughts about the game to multiple levels of audiences (beginner, amateur, professional) then that is already an early step. This shows that you are able to be flexible with your communication styles," Sir_Cloud responded.
"On top of that, you will need to ask yourself your intention. If your intention is to genuinely grow others and allow others to be successful, then this is another right attribute as a coach. You will also need to be highly motivated, putting yourself as the captain of the ship. If the captain falls, so does the crew. The level of enthusiasm can also spill onto others."
Important advice for present and future esports coaches
"Have a good role model to inspire your coaching style, learn how to empathize, be flexible, seek self-improvement and always put others above you."
- Game knowledge is crucial
- So you can look at a game holistically, analysing every aspect and connecting the dots.
- Be analytical and open-minded
- Other successful teams’ play style wouldn’t suit everyone. In other words, build the ability to make sense out of data and be flexible.
- Emotional intelligence is key
- Learn how to empathise and connect with your players. Understand what they’re going through, and motivate them correctly.
- Have faith in your squad
- Trusting your players, management and their system in turn creates a positive environment.
- Communicate your findings well
- Instead of teaching how to play better, unblock your players’ minds. Lay out options, give guidance and help them open up their view of thoughts.
- Be the captain of the ship
- Be highly motivated; if the captain falls, so does the crew. Your level of enthusiasm can spill onto others.
Sir_Cloud dropped a lot of knowledge bombs on us during the interview, and we're extremely thankful for that. We hope it helps all you future coaches out there on your journey. If not, at the very least, we hope it opened your mind to the challenges of being one! Stay tuned to eGG Network for more news and in-depth interviews with esports personalities.