Coach John Mahoney: Helping Athletes Reach their Potential
Coach John Mahoney has been coaching for 35+ years. In the conversation that Carter, from All In Team Sports, had with Coach Mahoney, never once did he bring up “winning” as the reason he loves coaching. Instead, he would bring up stories on how he was able to help athletes reach their potential and get to the places that they wanted to go. Since accepting his first head coaching role in 1986 at a high school in Pittsburgh, Coach Mahoney has been able to coach on almost every level. Some of the notable programs he has coached for include the University of Michigan West Virginia University, Duquesne University, IMG Academy and now 212˚ Sports Academy.
Today’s All In Takeaways are around how to truly be a good coach, pursuing what ACTUALLY matters.
All In Takeaway #1: Team Culture
When asked what recommendations he would give to other coaches trying to build a strong team culture, Coach Mahoney first noted to stay true to yourself. Coach Mahoney will constantly tell his athletes,
I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
Additionally, Coach Mahoney made to emphasize not giving your star players “special treatment.” Instead, he will tell these players that they are going to be coached harder than anybody else because he expects more out of them.
In reflecting on this point, Coach Mahoney shared a story on Chris McCullough, who was drafted by the Nets in 2015. When Coach Mahoney coached him, there was a time where he showed up to practice late. After Chris apologized for showing up late, Coach Mahoney told him it was fine and to just jump right into the drill they were doing. Afterwards, as all of the players were walking off the court from practice, Coach Mahoney called Chris over to the baseline. This is where he had Chris do towel pushes for showing up to practice late. The players were shocked, but this helped Coach Mahoney prove his point that nobody is going to receive “special treatment.” Coaches, are you staying true to yourself and not allowing your star players off the hook?
All In Takeaway #2: Stay True to the Mission
Teaching the kids. Helping them develop and realize their goals, dreams, and aspirations. All while helping them be better people.
When Coach Mahoney first started coaching, he admits that he was much too focused on winning. As he has gone throughout his career, this focus has shifted towards helping athletes reach their potential. Staying true to this mission has allowed Coach Mahoney to have relationships with many athletes beyond basketball. In fact, he still talks to the players he coached when he first started in 1986.
Coach Mahoney is the founder, owner and head post grad coach of 212° Sports Academy, a high school and post graduate program helping basketball players get to the next level. When asked the reasoning behind the name, Coach Mahoney responded,
Water is hot at 211°. 1 extra degree, water boils. With boiling water, it produces steam so powerful you can move a automobile, or even a train. Thus, we teach our athletes on the court, 1 extra effort. Whether it is a dive, a contest, a box out, getting in extra shots after practice. Anything that can help them make themselves or teammates better. Off the court, it is about saying please and thank you, smiling, opening a door for somebody. Those little things can change people’s lives. Serving others is the message of our whole program.
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