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LLG Open Mind Too: Coaching in the Movies

LLG Open Mind Too

Movie Reviews and Coaching

Mary Smithson

Amanda Tremark

Linda Daccardi


Coaching and consulting is a form of expression that leaves the coach and consultant vulnerable and yet connected in a very deep satisfying way. The unique coach or consultant displays a sense of genuine concern and empathy for the client. A consultant has the vision of the big picture that the client can’t see just yet. It is almost like the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” The gift is in the technique and trust relationships that form with the client. The consultant must use purposeful conversations in order to achieve the goal whether it is resolving a conflict or bringing about change.  In the book “Conversations For Change” it is explained on page 215 “They talk with you in a way that makes you feel as if they get what you are saying.” That is why it is so important to make the connection emotionally with the client. The coach would use conversations for actions in order to achieve some change in behavior.   A coach must instruct and encourage the client until they are able to feel confident in the changes that they need to embrace. We have a wonderful illustration of the coach in Bagger Vance and consultant in Norman Dale which we will explore in this paper. 

One night, while hitting golf balls into the darkness wondering how he will get his old golf swing back, Rannulph Junuh is approached by a man named Baggar Vance.  Baggar offers to be his




caddy for the tournament for small fee waiving the percentage of the purse and establishing his sincerity. The teacher becomes the servant. According to author Neil Carter, “Essentially, the prime attributes of a coach are specialist knowledge of the activity combined with motivational skills and an ability to communicate effectively.” (2)  Baggar Vance initiates the conversation with Junuh to make the connection. He sparks his curiosity and offers his services with integrity included. He establishes trust with the client.  He starts a conversation for structure and devises a plan of action. Junuh proved that he could overcome his issues as long as he had the willingness to change his thought process and believe in himself again. Golf is a game of honor and Juno showed everyone present that he was a man of honor when he moved a golf ball and took the penalty whether it was an accident or not.  This clearly demonstrated his integrity which was within his very being. He felt his connection and played wisely while capturing his audience as a real hometown hero returning.     

Baggar tells the golfer to find the authentic swing that is inside of him. Seek the place with your soul. Don’t think it …feel it. He builds trust upon trust with the golfer. He made him laugh to relieve stress. He built up his confidence. He gave him wisdom indirectly not directly. The most memorable quote was “It’s a game that can’t be won, only played.” That quote would play over and over in his head to relieve stress. It was like a reality check at the most appropriate time. Baggar the coach showed perfect timing and tremendous patience. The coach gives him support and tells him, “you are not alone.” He instills confidence and pushes him at the same time. He

said, “Play the game, the one that only you were meant to play!” 



Baggar goes through many of the conversations each leading to the next until he knows instinctively that he needs to exit. He trained the young boy (Jack Lemmon) at the same time in order to take over for him. At the end he walks off the scene knowing that the golfer has his old swing back as well as his confidence and integrity. The kid steps in to be the caddy with all the knowledge and wisdom that the coach and his own father have taught him.

            The consultant is Gene Hackman (Norman Dale) in this movie. He brings with him the values and lessons of discipline, respect and commitment to the team.  He is the coach but he is also the consultant. He has a bioptic vision of the team that escapes everyone else’s eyesight. It is like he had vision enhancement lenses so that he could see the big picture and behold the grand slam ending.

              He benches a player who refuses to work as team member even though he is making baskets and scoring points.  It’s not about the points to Dale, it’s about the ability to work together as a team and respect your team members.  Dale hired one of the fathers named Shooter as the assistant coach but he imposed one stipulation that he remain sober in order to be around the boys. Dale showed the boys the true meaning of team work. He showed the town that Shooter was a valuable person and letting Shooter know his own value as well. He taught the team to work together no matter the outcome.

  There is one boy that is gifted and the whole town wants him to play. The consultant sets up a “team theme”. No one person is more important than another on this team. He communicates

with the star player that he has a gift. It is a gift that is his and not anyone else’s gift. He tells him



he does not care if he plays or not.  As the consultant he establishes trust with this star player through the conversation for connection and the conversation for moving on. This boy had a death in the family and was unable to move on. The consultant earned his trust, let him feel his integrity and gave him encouragement to move on in his young life.  When one kid breaks the rule he set up he benches him. He makes his point! He re-affirms the kid’s commitment to the coach and the game. He uses strategy, strictness with a lot of confirmation of their abilities. The best quote was “Be the best you can be no matter what the scoreboards say you are. You are all winners in my book.” He taught them to focus and how to clear their minds. He has their trust and they value his instructions without questioning. At state finals he takes out a measuring tape to show them that the court measures the same as at home, so that they do not get overwhelmed with how big the stadium appears. He told them relax and play, calm down and be patient. Through his continued coaching the team made it to the championship and won, as a TEAM.

In conclusion the coaching and consulting techniques of Dale were consistent and methodical until the end goal. The elements of coaching and consulting instilled in the players that no matter the outcome, he had accomplished what he set out to do. Baggar Vance techniques on coaching were purely inspirational because he never directly gave any instructions. He made them indirectly and the conversation was always understood that it was by Junuh’s free will if he took any of Baggar’s advise. He had to use this strategy because of color difference as well. Deep in the south in that time period there was a separate section for “colored folks”. Baggar had to use caution due to this prejudice and he did it expertly through the conversations. In the end they both learned that they could accomplish many changes and draw from within their own mind to believe in themselves again.


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