Monday, 15 Apr 2024

The Fascination Behind Coaches Wearing Visors

what do coaches wear

Have you ever wondered why sports coaches wear visors even when coaching indoors? It’s obviously not for sun protection, so why else would professional and youth coaches choose to wear this dome-less accessory?

Steve Spurrier and The Visor

If you are not a huge football fan, you probably don’t know who Steve Spurrier is. Let me give you three quick must-knows before we proceed. He is a former American football player and coach often referred to by his nickname, the “Head Ball Coach”. He coached the Florida Gators, Washington Redskins, and South Carolina Gamecocks. Moreover, he is considered to be “one of the most innovative coaches in football, incorporating his techniques into the big game”.

And most importantly, he was essentially the first coach to religiously wear a visor as a professional coach, which started back in the ’90s when coaching in Florida.

Spurrier has been asked many times about his love for wearing visors when coaching. Is it to control his hair if he forgot to get a haircut? Was it to block out the bright lights of the stadium? Or was it simply vanity?

While he often just laughs, he consistently comes back to a few main reasons. Firstly, he was a huge golf fan and has always worn one on the golf course to block out the sun. So it was only natural to “get some visors with the Gator logo on it, and so forth. That’s when I really started wearing it, in 1990.” Secondly, he said down in Florida it can get “hot and sticky.” So it makes perfect sense to protect yourself from the heat and some of the sun’s rays, I guess? Let’s hope he put some sunscreen on his head too. Lastly, he said it didn’t get as many grass stains on it when compared to a cap, especially when it went flying through the air in a moment of frustration. But in all seriousness, did the visor tradition start with coach Spurrier? When asked, he quickly denies this, saying Vince Lombardi wore one back in the ’60s on a hot day. “So I wasn’t the first to do it, that’s for sure.”

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Why Do Other Sports Coaches Wear A Visor?

From being a great anger management tool to blocking out the light, here are a few reasons why professional sports coaches, predominantly NFL coaches, wear a visor.

  • “Hats don’t look good on my little head” – Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
  • “Feels better than a hat” – Bob Stoops
  • “If it’s really hot, I kind of prefer a visor” – Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • “I just like visors” – Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles coach, former Oregon coach
  • “Spurrier. Growing up and watching him, I was always intrigued by him, watching him at Florida. You know, just the way he ran the offense and his confidence and his visor … and he doesn’t know that story” – Lane Kiffin USC coach
  • “He (Spurrier) was wearing a visor way back before anybody else was and I was coaching high school. I thought that was pretty cool, so I started wearing a visor.” – Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • “Because we couldn’t afford the rest of the hat” – Jim Leavitt, Assistant coach to Bob Stoop
  • “It helps me set my headset right” “That’s why I wear it.” – Gary Pinkel, Missouri

As you can see, NFL coaches really love wearing a visor more than pretty much every other sport. Well, maybe besides golf.

Are NFL Coaches The Only Coaches to Wear Visors?

While it’s impossible to list every superstar, visor-wearing champ, here is a list of football, golf, softball, and soccer coaches loving the visor.

Football – NFL

  • Bob Stoops
  • Lincoln Riley (University of Oklahoma)
  • Mike Sanford (Western Kentucky)
  • Chad Morris (SMU – Southern Methodist)
  • Lane Kiffin (Florida Atlantic)
  • Kirby Smart (Georgia)
  • Willie Taggart (Oregon)
  • Chip Kelly (UCLA Bruins)
  • Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints)
  • Jon Gruden (Oakland Raiders)
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Golf (predominantly players, not coaches)

  • Fred Couples
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Stuart Appleby
  • Brandt Snedeker
  • Mark Wilson
  • Russell Henley
  • Bubba Watson
  • Larry Mize
  • Sandy Lyle
  • Shanshan Feng (pictured)

Softball

  • Patty Gasso – University of Oklahoma
  • Jamie Trachsel – University of Minnesota

Soccer

  • Paul Ratcliffe – Women’s Soccer Head Coach

Wearing a Visor is A Personality Thing

So if we just talk football, there are 32 teams in the NFL with most clubs having 15 odd assistant coaches per team. If you are trying to stand out from the crowd, you either have to win a bucket load of games or you have to do something or wear something people can recognize you by.

As a good example, Denis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls made a name for himself, on the court anyway, by famously coloring and cutting his hair to show his true self. And did he leave a lasting impression? You bet.

So wearing a visor could be a simple way to look different from the other coaches and establish your own “look.” While this can sound a little vain, you can’t blame them. Professional coaches only have a very slim timeframe to make an impact, so why not wear something you think flatters your appearance?

What About the Bald Coaches and Wearing Visors?

I recently read a story published in the Chicago Tribune about Matt Nagy, the current NFL coach of the Chicago Bears. Now if you don’t know Coach Nagy, his hair has seen better days, and I bet you can already see where this is going… It didn’t take long for the coach to get so sunburnt during his first year coaching an outdoor minicamp that he made the sensible switch to wearing a cap instead of a visor.

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So this got me thinking, bald coaches are not wearing a visor to control their hair, so they must be wearing it to look the part, help their headset fit properly, or it blocks out the lights? I guess we will never know.

As A New Coach, Should I Get One?

I think it comes down to a few things:

  • Logistics: Are you at risk of getting a sunburnt head? If yes, is a hat a better option?
  • Vanity: Do you look better with or without a hat or visor? Seek a second opinion.
  • Impression: Do you idolize coaches like Steve Spurrier and want to be just like him? Do it.
  • Finance: What do you get for free and have access to? Choose this one. What? Youth coaches are volunteers, y’all!

Ultimately, the choice is yours.

FAQs

Q: Why do coaches wear visors?

A: Coaches wear visors for various reasons, such as mimicking admired coaches, helping their headset fit, blocking out glare, or personal preference.

Q: Who was the first coach to wear a visor?

A: Steve Spurrier is often credited as the first coach to frequently wear a visor as a professional coach, but Vince Lombardi wore one back in the ’60s on a hot day.

Q: Do other sports coaches wear visors?

A: Yes, coaches in other sports, including golf, softball, and soccer, also wear visors.

Conclusion

The visor has become a signature accessory for many coaches in various sports, offering a unique style and functionality. Whether it’s for personal reasons, practicality, or to establish a recognizable image, coaches choose to wear visors as a part of their coaching identity. So, if you’re a new coach, consider the logistics, vanity, and your desired impression before deciding whether or not to rock a visor. Remember, it’s your own style that sets you apart on the sidelines.