The role of a great coach in sport cannot be underestimated.
The extra attention to often very minute detail which they can bring to an athlete’s performance can be the difference between success and failure.
Andy Murray hooking up again with Ivan Lendl appears to have paid immediate dividends.
The mentality of Murray seems to have strengthened overnight with the renewal of the partnership.
A slightly erratic temperament has bedevilled the Scot’s concentration over the years. Lendl though seems to sharpen Murray’s focus to a razor’s edge and it shows in his blistering performance on court.
He seems to stand a few inches taller and there is an air of confidence about him which added to his terrific talent makes him look an even better player.
In current form he looks imperious and it would surely be a rare co-incidence if that was simply luck.
While ultimately the talent always resides with the athlete, top coaches and managers have the gift of squeezing an extra dimension from their performances.
Sir Dave Brailsford, who revolutionised British track cycling fortunes to make it the best in the world from its position of 17th in the world in 1996, is a classic example of the single-mindedness required by those who extract the very maximum from performers.
Brailsford’s attention to detail in minute form has become legendary.
He has overseen not only glittering track success for Britain with Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, but as Team Sky performance director and manager, produced our first ever winners of the Tour de France in Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
His focus on the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ is now a mantra for many coaches, who have bought into his approach, that improving the many components of a performance, by as little as one per cent, can make the overall difference between winning and losing.
One of his earliest appointments was that of psychiatrist Steve Peters who worked with riders on controlling their inner ‘chimp’, that part of the brain which is irrational and impulsive, and if let loose can ruin an athlete’s performance as their focus departs and their emotions run loose.
Great coaches and managers find routes to re-assess and regenerate sporting talent and in doing so they usually have completely open minds and are free thinkers, unencumbered by tradition or strait-jacketed by tired and ineffective convention.
In football, Liverpool FC’s owners the Fenway Sports Group, have been so impressed with Jurgen Klopp’s short time at Anfield that they’ve just given him a new six-year deal until 2022, describing him as a ‘world class managerial talent’.
Klopp also has a charisma and self belief, which all top coaches and managers possess in abundance.
Behind every great sportsman and woman there is usually a great coach or manager.
In football we have had a long list of greats, from Stein to Ferguson, from Mourinho to Guardiola.
All have possessed a unique insight into the minds of athletes, proving themselves capable of identifying and releasing their abilities to allow them to climb to greatest of sporting heights.