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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

Larry King's Lessons For a Coach

Yesterday, television and radio host Larry King passed away at the age of 87. For 63 years, King was a mainstay in media, interviewing countless guests from all walks of life on his show, Larry King Live.

Back in 2018, he appeared on Cal Fussman's Big Questions podcast to discuss his career, and specifically, how he was able to connect with his guests.

"I was insatiably curious," King said, "If you're insatiably curious, you'd better be a listener."

He never came into an interview with a list of questions.

"I concentrate solely on the answer," He told the Columbia Journalism Review in 2017, "And I trust my instincts to come up with questions."

I think King's style can serve as a guide for coaches in our interactions with athletes. No, we don't "interview" them in a formal sense. But we are trying to connect with and better understand our athletes. Doing so improves our ability to make good coaching decisions.

To establish that rapport, we'd be wise to follow King's lead:

  1. Be curious. Ask simple questions of an athlete. Their answer provides a better picture of their perspective.

  2. Be a good listener. Pay attention to what the athlete is telling you. Factor that in to your coaching.

For more of King's advice on conversation, this piece from GQ provides a concise list.

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