The curtain call on Mike Krzyzewski's stellar coaching career has been a gentle reminder for a lot of people in the coaching community that no one coaches forever.
A few weeks ago, after their emotional Final Four loss, Coach K officially stepped into retirement at age 75, and that served as a reminder that there are a lot of high school, college and professional coaches who are still coaching at a high level out there, but they're also staring down the realistic finish line of their coaching career on the horizon.
From the NFL landscape we've got Bruce Arians who just stepped away from the sidelines at age 69, Bill Belichick will turn 70 later this week and has logged nearly five decades in the NFL, and Pete Carroll is the resident veteran of the NFL ranks who will turn 71 later this year.
The college level has 70-year olds Nick Saban and Mack Brown, who will both turn 71 later this year within a month of one another, while Herm Edwards and Kirk Ferentz are both in their late 60s.
During a conversation with Peter King recently, Krzyzewski shared the keys for an older coach to continue performing at a high level late in their careers.
It starts with leaning more on the staff around you, Krzyzewski explained.
“As I got older, I allowed more input of expression of teaching from my staff, from the people around me. I was able to see and feel their hunger. I allowed them more opportunity but the person who got more was me. Because I got more of them."
"Their ownership of what you’re doing is deepened. The best way to get ownership is to use someone’s ideas or give them the ability, the responsibility. Like in talking to my team and how you, before a game, set up a scout. As I got older, I allowed more and more, more and more. I learned more. It’s a different music, a little bit different music that occurs."
As for how he approached playing and game planning against some of the younger coaches as his age increased, coach K shares that he never felt age in coaching.
“I never had to beat them. I had to beat their teams. I had 18 to 23-year olds trying to beat their 20 to 24-year olds. I’m not saying I’m better. But I’ve never lost my edge in competition."
"I never felt age in coaching. Ever. Ever. The other thing is, by being with these guys, you stay young. You gotta be able to relate to them. I’m proud of the fact that in five different decades, we made the Final Four.
Head here to read King's full piece on coach K.