NBC Sports Washington brought together local coaches Ron Rivera (Washington football), Todd Reirden (Capitals), Scott Brooks (Wizards) and Mike Thibault (Mystics) to discuss the intricacies of their craft in a free-wheeling discussion hosted by Julie Donaldson. We present six days highlighting different themes of their conversation - experiences, stories and lessons shared from careers in coaching. To watch the full roundtable, click here.
Coaching a professional sports team is a high-stress occupation. It's nonstop, it's unforgiving and a new challenge could present itself tomorrow.
That's why Mystics head coach Mike Thibault has an important rule on his coaching staff: you have to laugh every day.
"The last rule that we have with our staff is: you have to laugh every day," Thibault said in NBC Sports Washington's Coaching Roundtable. "We have to have something that you laugh about and even if you have to kind of make it up a little bit. Because if you can't enjoy what you're doing, it just becomes a drag every day. It's not worth doing in any way so one of my rules is to try to find humor in life and I think that's an important part of it."
For Thibault, that strategy has worked out quite well. He's the winningest coach in WNBA history, has won the WNBA Coach of the Year award three times and won his first title last year with Washington.
Postgame he's always trying to make his intimate press conferences light. Typically a joke thrown here or there. Whether it's defending his dancing moves caught on social media or hoping that proper officiating is reflected in NBA2K's WNBA play he always draws a laugh.
Part of it all is having a good work-life balance. It's easy to forget the burdens that all individuals have on a team within the sport and outside of it. Having a humorous side gives everyone a break from the typical strains of being within the sports industry.
It also shows to Thibault's players that he's being genuine - another important crux of Thibault's coaching philosophy. The two almost go hand-in-hand.
"I think that I don't ever lose sight that you have to stay true to your foundation," Thibault said. "I think the second-best advice I had to learn and was given was: don't try to be somebody else. You gotta be yourself. You can steal from other people, you can learn from other people. I worked for a lot of really good head coaches but I think that players see through things really quickly and I think that they have to know that you’re genuine with them."
COACHES' ROUNDTABLE: WATCH THE FULL DISCUSSION WITH COACH BROOKS, REIRDEN, RIVERA AND THIBAULT
As for inspiration, Thibault is not afraid of stealing jokes from others. He admits that he's not entirely the best joke-teller.
"They’re not as good as some of the other [jokesters]. I probably steal from somebody else. Every once in a while we make our players have our joke of the day too. I’ve even got fun, Todd (Reirden), out of watching Alex (Ovechkin)’s kid jokes of the day over this last couple months on Instagram. So they’re stupid kids jokes but there's something to get a smile on your face in the midst of everything."
To watch the full Coaches' Roundtable with Coach Brooks, Coach Reirden, Coach Rivera and Coach Thibault, click here.
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