Sport has always been a great leveller; where people from all walks of life have the equal opportunity to perform. Whether it be individual sports or team sports, once the game begins, it’s just you and your opponent, giving it your all to win. Most people, today, follow some sport or the other, if not play it. People have favourite sports, game formats, players, teams, venues and rarely, but surely, favourite coaches. After all, they’re the ones on the side-lines, keeping a watchful eye and guiding their players to victory.
Coaches play an integral role in every sport. They’re responsible for transforming players into athletes, and individuals into a team. Their contribution to the success or failure is as much, if not more, as of the players; constantly inspiring them to perform to their potential. Every great player, whether it be Sachin or Sindhu or Serena, all of them credit their success to their coaches.
While there are a considerable number of films made on the lives of great coaches (Coach Carter, We Are Marshall, Chak De India, Moneyball, Remember the Titans etc.), the Playbook is a limited docu-series that puts a spotlight on a few coaches who’ve made a tremendous impact in the recent past while overcoming significant odds in their personal and professional lives. Five of the coaches featured, reflect on their learnings from on and off the field that have had a tremendous impact on the lives of their athletes/ teams. These are presented as ‘rules’ for us, along with a back story of how the coaches arrived at those rules, as well as anecdotes from their career of having implemented them.
The series delves into issues that go beyond the confines of the playing field, albeit from a coach’s perspective. These range from managing their personal ambitions while being honest about their work, to managing the truth about their personal lives and its impact on their coaching career and teams, from challenging conventional thought, dealing with failure on field, to managing the legacies of their teams and the expectations of their fans to sometimes building the fan base to act as an external support system for their team.
Every episode is merely 35 minutes long, but every episode is abundant with practical wisdom. If I were to nit-pick, I’d say the series focuses entirely on coaches popular in the United States and lacks diversity in the sports featured (2x soccer, 2x basketball and 1 on tennis). Nonetheless, each anecdote and situation is carefully unravelled for us by the coaches and is relatable; some might even spark a revelation!