Coaches Dress Code

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The most successful sporting league in the world (NBA) has a dress code for coaches.

The most successful volleyball league in the world (Italian) has a dress code for coaches.

I have a dress code for matches. When I appear at a match I am representing my sport, my profession and myself. I want to show that I take all of those things seriously. With that in mind whenever possible I wear a suit. Why a suit? For whatever reason our society, not least the NBA and Superlega, has decided suits represent professionalism. Just as it has decided jeans are casual wear, what you wear when you leave work or want to go to the pub. I also like the ritual of preparation.

Platonov also had some thoughts on the matter. I like the idea of a game being a festival and a battle.
The main thing is that it should be neat and well fitting. However when genes and age have done their work and the coach loses his sporting bearing, but insists on appearing in public wearing sporting attire, in most cases it just looks bad. For me the game is both battle and festival, and just like the warriors in the old days, I endeavour to appear in ‘parade uniform’.

There are many books that can teach you about tactics and techniques. There are very few books that can teach you about coaching. My Profession: The Game by Russian coaching legend Vyacheslav Platonov is one of those very few. I could not recommend it more highly. To purchase this wonderful coaching resource, click here.


  1. I’m curious about your definition of “most successful”, but a topic for a different day.

    Believe it or not, NFL coaches also have a dress code. It’s just basically the complete opposite of the sort you’re talking about here. A lot of people think Bill Belichick led a “dressing like a slob” revolution, but it was actually a protest move.

    Gladly, baseball managers have moved away from wearing player type uniforms. As per Platanov, I always thought they looked silly.

    In NCAA volleyball, especially in Division I, coaches generally dress “neat and well fitting”. Suits are uncommon, but you do see quite a few male coaches in shirt & tie. At a minimum it’s trousers and a polo.


    1. Platonov is talking about tracksuits being worn by fat coaches. But he is too polite to be clear 😉
      Short sleeves with a tie should be a fireable offence. In any job.
      I don’t mind pants and polo. Unfortunately it is not allowed under FIVB rules. Either suit AND tie or tracksuit. No in between.


      1. Yeah, I know what Platonov is talking about. Look up video of Tommy Lasorda and you’ll see an example of a fat manager wearing a baseball uniform, which looks ridiculous. Agreed on the short sleeves. Fortunately, I don’t coaches going that route very often.

        Two questions.

        1) Does a polo with track pants fall under FIVB rules? I seem to see that, or something akin to it, pretty often in the pro leagues. Local league rules?

        2) What about female coaches? Do they have to wear a suit if they don’t want to go with a tracksuit? And if you have a mixed gender staff, how closely would they have to match? Could the women wear skirts and the men wear trousers, for example?


      2. 1. Polo and tracksuit or suit with tie is the fivb regulation. Most league rules are some version of ‘all staff the same’. Which is how they get away with wearing jeans.
        Karch wears pants and polo which is technically against the rules.
        2. I don’t know.


  2. Maybe I can’t discuss with you (and at your level) about tactics and techniques but this year I had the good fortune to coach in A2 in Italy and for the first time in my coach life I was forced to wear a suit during a volleyball match, following specific rules.

    In my humble opinion it is pretty weird to wear a suit during one of working day (the match) and to wear a tracksuit during the other one (practice days). I am a coach and it is quite normale to wear a tracksuit and I never like the obligations, especially regarding the way to wear or to appear, also because we are in a gym to play sport not to a gala dinner!
    In my case, coaching is not my main profession and in the company where I work every day, nobody asks me to follow a specific dress code, in the last years the companies that have a strict dress code (like our sport in my country) are more and more uncommon.

    Maybe we should benchmark against other aspects more important (the idea of a head coach and several coaches for specific roles like the NFL? How better and better entertain the spectators, especially TV spectators as the american sports? How to engage sponsors like the european football? etc.)


    1. Ciao Manuel. Nice to hear from you.
      In professional volleyball, we are a small sport and our first obligation is to sell volleyball. That means a professional presentation and that includes how the coach presents himself. In our society, a suit is more professional than a tracksuit. I don’t mind a tracksuit because as you it is normal for sport but I personally prefer a suit. I really hate it when I see coaches unshaven and wearing jeans. I think this reflects badly on the sport.
      For me personally I also like the ritual of preparing for the game by putting on my uniform. The players don’t play in their training clothes. They have special clothes for matches, and so do I.
      We have a lot to do to sell volleyball. Right now we are doing a terrible job, especially in how to engage sponsors. I think presentation is a big part of that.


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