Kalani Sitake Has A Phil Jackson-Like Quality To His Coaching Style

Nov 11, 2021, 12:30 PM
BYU Football - Kalani Sitake...
Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake cheers on his team as BYU and Boise State play a college football game at Albertsons Stadium in Boise on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. BYU won 51-17. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Coaching a bunch of athletes in their later teens and early twenties can not be an easy task, especially when there are about 100 and each one is completely different. It takes a special person to be a college football head coach and even more so at BYU.

The vast majority of the players are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, plus there are some that are not, and even within those groups, each player has their own personality, lifestyle, and even varying football goals.

For BYU head coach Kalani Sitake and his staff to look over this group of young men is a tough task, and each college football coach has their own way of motivating players to get the best out of their group.

Former NBA and Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson is infamous for how he would motivate players on the team ranging from Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Scottie Pippen; plus the last guy on the bench who might have a short stint with the team. He always had a message for every player and his success was there with 11 NBA championships as a coach.

During this week’s edition of The Players Club with BYU quarterback Jaren Hall, explained how Sitake’s message to his players is not always a cookie-cutter sentiment but is a unique massage for what the team needs to hear at a given moment.

“The main thing from Kalani this year is how each time he speaks to us – anytime it is during or after a game – he tailors it to actually what we need in the moment,” Hall said. “It could be how we might be feeling emotionally, postgame or what we need to hear. It is never just ra-ra thing every time that a lot of coaches do to get you pumped up.”

This style of coaching is a bit different than the norm. There are still some coaches who are like drill sergeants and what it to be their way or the highway but that style is going away as it is not working as well as it used to. There are those who are considered “players coaches” and are almost buddies or too friendly with their players they are to lead and motivate.

It seems from Hall’s comments that Sitake is just straight with his players and he is somewhat a combination of those styles in his motivational tactics.

“He is real with us. If we just had a bad game he will tell us to not to be too hard on ourselves, you are human, and it is OK if we mess up to look inside yourselves,” Hall added. “Or if you had a really good game he is really good at humbling us and bringing us back down quickly and helping us realize where all of our strength comes from and how to be humble.

“He has been so dialed into what we need to hear and not necessarily what he wants to tell us. It has meant a lot and it has gotten the most out of all of our guys.”

That type of coaching tactic can be great for players to hear what they need and not just have a head coach go off and maybe give some cliched motivational speech. Sitake really understands the players and type of program that BYU is striving to be and after six years he is fiding his coaching groove and taking this program to great heights.

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