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Dr. Tom Prichard Columns
Dr. Tom Prichard on What Makes a Good Coach
By Dr. Tom Prichard
Nov 10, 2005 - 5:07 PM

I get it. I have been questioned before. What makes you such an authority? Who did you ever beat? Come on, you were mid card at best. What have you ever done in the business? Who are you to knock that guy? I’ve heard or read it many times.

I readily admit and acknowledge that I am not in the same category as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle or any other icon you want to name who’s “been there, done that.” So why do some question those who put me over or respect my ability as a trainer and coach? After all, I was never a major player in the business. What do I know and what gives me the right to be respected as a trainer or “great mind” in this business?

Number one, I’m not really such a great mind in this business. I failed miserably when I was on the writing team for WWE and felt like a fish out of water. But I got to thinking about the things I could do well and what makes a good coach.

I don’t believe a great player always makes a great coach. That player may have the talent and know how to do what he does best, but can’t convey or motivate others to reach their potential. I believe a great coach is one that knows how to motivate and find players’ potential and work towards someone’s strengths.

When I say I have the experience to teach or coach someone, all I’m saying is I’ve made the mistakes first, therefore I can guide you on what not to do and steer you in the right direction (hopefully!)

One thing I did learn by sitting in on writing, booking, pre and post production meetings was how talent was picked and the steps that talent took to get picked. It was an eye opening experience for me. I was always insecure and didn’t want to make waves. Hell, if I was good enough, the powers that be would put me in that spot. Well, it doesn’t exactly work that way.

I learned so much when I stopped wrestling on a regular basis and became the first WWE developmental talent manager and trainer. I was invited to a creative meeting one day and continued to show up to every meeting after that. All the while I was in the ring with newly signed talent and I was able to give updates on their progress. One thing I will not deny or apologize for is I can teach someone the basics and give them a solid foundation. The rest is up to them.

But I listened to how the talent had come up with ideas and “why don’t we give it a shot” was heard on a regular basis. Simple as that! A talent actually had an idea that sounded pretty good (at the time anyway) and it was going to be used on TV. Damn! If I only knew.

Well, I did know. I mean this has always been a self promoting business and you can’t sit back and wait for someone to come up with a brilliant idea to make you a Superstar. You must have the ambition, passion, desire and belief in yourself to present something to creative. If the first idea is rejected, try and try again. Stunning Steve, The Ringmaster, and finally Stone Cold. Trial and error.

How big of a part do you want in the company? Can you carry the load? Do you have enough confidence to explain and then follow thru with what you’re presenting? WWE is a big machine. It can be an intimidating machine and if you want a piece of the action you’ve got to take charge of your career and do what’s best for you. That’s not an easy thing to sort out or figure out how to do.

That’s where the coach and trainer come in.

I feel the best coaches are motivators and mentors to a certain extent. While I never applied the aggressive strategies to my own career I was now able to tell talent what they needed to do to get that coveted spot. I understood the passion I had for the business but I also understood the hesitation in not wanting to “ruffle feathers” or say the wrong thing. I felt I could have good matches but I wasn’t confidant enough to suggest anything to advance or change the direction of my career. Or maybe I just wasn’t that good.

As a coach and trainer you have to push your players. You have to be honest with them too. Some just aren’t made for this business. It’s hard to accept but there comes a time when you must face facts. Being in the booking and writing meetings gave me insight as to what creative was looking for and it helped me get the guys ready.

But you still have to take the initiative and go for it. At the right time. Timing is everything in this business and one of the hardest elements to understand and master. A coach should be there for encouragement and be on your ass when you need it.

I never main evented in MSG. I wrestled there many times. That doesn’t make me an expert. What I have learned thru life and professional experience is what makes me a qualified teacher. I have wrestled many of the top guys. I have been around the business most of my life. I understand the ups and downs and that sometimes there are going to be more downs than ups and that’s when you’ve really got to kick it in gear.

I have come across many coaches/trainers and one of the best is Rip Rogers in Louisville. Rip has an understanding of how to do something in the ring and has the passion to share with his students. He’s worked in the office, booked, wrestled and done pretty much every aspect of the business. He is a motivator and mentor to many in the OVW beginner’s class. He’s had a hand in training many of the up coming WWE Superstars and understands that there is no substitute for a solid foundation.

A great coach makes you want to learn. The coach must have the passion and get his students passionate about learning and becoming better every day.

When I do camps and seminars I am straight forward about the hardships and trials that will come up. There is no such thing as an overnight success. It takes long hard work. But you must gain the confidence in yourself that you are deserving of the position you want. Then you’ve got to pull it off.

What I did in the business shouldn’t matter. What I learned should. I learned more when I stopped wrestling than I did on the road. I have always tried to steer that anxious rookie in the right direction and give him sound advice. Sometimes it’s easier to step back and look at the picture when you’re not in it. You don’t have to have won or even played in the Superbowl to coach a team to victory, do you?

Every coach has their own style and way of doing things. Teaching the fundamentals is really all the same. It is up to the motivation and inspiration of the coach that can make practice fun and exciting or dull and dreary. For anyone who’s been to one of my camps I hope you found them to be motivational as well as informative.

As a member of Elite Pro Wrestling Training (EPWT) with Les Thatcher and Harley Race I am getting a chance to keep my passion alive and spread it to more hopefuls out there looking to begin in pro wrestling. I hope that those of you who don’t understand what the fuss is all about to find out. Come to a session and find out what it really takes to get in this crazy business.

*November 6 will mark the two year passing of Mike Lockwood, aka Crash Holly, aka Erin O’Grady. I met Mike when he came to the second developmental try out in Stamford for WWE. He worked as Erin O’Grady, sort of a leprechaun gimmick that handed out chocolate coins to fans before his matches and could do any style with anyone in the ring. I appreciated his love for the business and like Chris Candido I could talk to Crash about anything anytime. Steven Richards was probably his best friend in the world and I know his death hit him hard. I just wanted to remember and say that Mike was one of the boys and loved life to its fullest.

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Listed below are some of the dates where the EPWT Trainers will be appearing:

Harley Race will be appearing at these World League Wrestling events. 11/10 ST. Louis, MO. 11/12 Eldon, MPO. For details on all these events go to www.harleyrace.com .

Join Les and co-host Doc Young every Sunday evening 6 to 8: PM EST with their special guests on “Wrestling Weekly” by clicking on www.wrestlingweekly.com .

Nov. 18, 19, 20, Les, Harley, and Dr. Tom will be joined by Tully Blanchard for a 3-day training camp in Spindale, NC. at the Spindale House sponsored by New Generation Wrestling with a star packed legends show on Friday in the same venue. There will be two rings and this event is open to beginner thru experienced wrestlers. See the entire line-up at EPWT.com and to sign up or for details contact Matt at ngwmatt@yahoo.com or call 864-878-9239.

Harley and Tom will join many other super stars in Spartanburg, SC. Sat. 11/19 for a “Tribute to Starcade”. More info can be had by going to www.carolinachampionshipwrestling.com .

December 1, 2, 3 Les and Tom will be in West Liberty, KY. for a 3-day camp sponsored by Retro Wrestling Alliance at the Morgan Co. Community Center. For details or to sign up go to www.rwaonline.biz or e-mail Joey at admin@rwaonline.com.



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