Chuck Knox was an NFL head coach for more than 20 years with the Rams, Bills, and Seahawks, leading his teams to seven division titles.
In the book "The Game-Makers," he outlined his "principles of coaching," which I've listed here:
Inspire learning: "Create within the player a desire to do what is demanded, regardless of what technique is being taught. Enthusiasm is a must."
Concentration: "Learning [a sport] is not a matter of intelligence. It's a question of concentration. Any... player can learn if a coach gets him to concentrate and when a coach finds the secret of how that's done, he'll be a great coach."
Belief: "Knox... teaches with conviction. A player must understand the depth of that conviction." According to Coach Knox, "My... coaches have got to believe strongly in what they teach. Every great moment in the history of mankind occurred because someone had a belief."
Evaluate: A coach should be "totally honest with himself in what he sees. Looking at the scoreboard is one way, but not enough." According to Coach Knox, it's necessary to "look beyond that scoreboard and see that all the things the players are taught are being performed in a game that way. If I spent time in practice teaching a certain technique and then looked at the game films and saw the technique not being followed, I must be doing a damn poor job of teaching. Or maybe the technique is wrong and I should stick with what the player is doing in the game."
Never forget the basics: A game plan is only of value if a team is "fundamentally sound enough to execute it."
Sell skill: As is the case with all sports, "football is a skill game and all its elements -- blocking, tackling, catching the ball -- are skills that can be improved upon. The improvement must come from concentration on the basic fundamentals. The individual improvement will have a collective effect."
Don't demonstrate: "It is scientifically wrong... for a coach to demonstrate a technique to a player. Most of the time, the technique you're trying to demonstrate doesn't come out as you picture it in your mind." Instead, Coach Knox recommends using a player to demonstrate, making "sure that he did everything the way I wanted it done. Then everyone could follow a perfect model."
Teach, don't holler: "Enthusiasm is great and should be distinguished from ranting and raving. If mistakes are made, the teaching process is the only answer. A player won't understand what he's being taught if all he gets is hollering."
Said Coach Knox, "Take those factors, add the key element of communication, and that is my idea of how you can improve a player. But communication is the key. You must reduce an action to its simplest components, then hammer at it with repetition."