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Tiger Traits
April 23, 2001
We asked six icons of coaching: "What makes Tiger Woods great?"
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April 23, 2001

Tiger Traits

We asked six icons of coaching: "What makes Tiger Woods great?"

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Red Auerbach
Tiger's main attribute is his dedication. He has blocked out everything except what he has to do. He's in such a tough position. For every 100 autographs you sign, the one you don't sign, you're a jerk. He'd be better off not signing any. People say, "Hey, you'll be sorry when they don't ask for your autograph." That's a load of crap. If that day ever comes, he'll relish it. I got a thrill meeting Tiger. I said, "Tiger. I want to congratulate you not just for what you've done, but also for the way you've conducted yourself." He looked at me and said, "Coach, it's my honor to meet you."

Don Shula
He has made himself better by making himself stronger, that's what impresses me the most. He's willing to work harder than his competitors. Add that to his natural ability, and you've got a combination that's hard to beat. I try to get people to be aware of the positive things around them, and one of the most positive in our world today is Tiger Woods—his work habits, the way he influences young people and the way he handles himself.

Sparky Anderson
I'm impressed with how quickly he grew up. He was immature at first, but he figured it out: You're a professional now; this is the way you act. When he first came out, he was a little too flamboyant. He knows now that other people in his group maybe aren't doing as well. You can kill them, but kill them with courtesy. His talent is the kind that comes along once in a lifetime. God makes :hose choices, and he selected Tiger. You couldn't practice enough, play enough or study enough to be that good. It's impossible. Ted Williams was impossible. Michael Jordan was impossible. Tiger Woods is impossible.

John Wooden
His work habits and focus are exceptional. Work habits develop the fundamentals that are so necessary, and his focus allows him to put other things out of his mind so he can concentrate on the job at hand. At the Masters, I was astounded when he stopped his swing right at the top on the 15th tee. Not many can do that. He has everything in the physical area, but his real advantage is above the shoulders, where all the great ones excel.

Angelo Dundee
For a young guy to be that cool, that steady, is amazing. I'm not a golfer, but I can see how fluid he is physically. Mentally, he's unshakable, the way I'd like all my fighters to be. Situations do not overwhelm him. He doesn't blow his stack; he evaluates and takes care of the situation. I love the way he carries himself. He does this thing that I try to get my fighters to do—smile. Reminds me of Muhammad Ali, the way he carries himself. Muhammad was a pied piper. Tiger's a pied piper.

Tom Tellez
Tiger knows what he's doing biomechanically, and not many athletes really do. Carl Lewis was that way when I coached him. Most know what feels right when they're going good, but when they're not going good, they don't know what's gone wrong. If you want to be consistent at a sport, you have to understand technique, the things Isaac Newton taught us, in detail. Carl understood technique and could make a change from one race to another, from one jump to another, under extreme pressure. Tiger is like that as well. He can duplicate under pressure what he does in practice.