A player-coach, in sports, is a member of a sports team who simultaneously holds both playing and coaching duties. The term can be used to refer to both players who serve as head coaches, or as assistant coaches.

Virtually no professional sports teams have head coaches who are also players, though it is extremely common for senior players to take a role in coaching more junior athletes. An exception to this is Shane Warne, who is Captain and Coach of the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. It remains common in amateur and semi-professional sports. For instance, a common career path for former Australian Football League players immediately after their retirement is as player-coaches in suburban or rural leagues.

Player coaches in basketball Edit

The player-coach was, for many decades, a long-time fixture in professional basketball. Many notable coaches in the NBA served as player-coaches, including Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens. This was especially true up through the 1970s, when the league was not as financially successful as it is today, and player-coaches were often used to save money. The practice fell out of favor in the 1980s (though Mike Dunleavy Sr., while an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, once came out of retirement and played several games when a rash of injuries decimated the team). Today, the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the players' union prohibits the use of player-coaches, in order to avoid circumventing the league's salary cap, as coaches' salaries are not counted under the cap. Therefore, if a player is to serve as a coach, he would have to receive commission from his contract as a player. The player, then, is not technically an official coach of his team but instead simply a coach in name. One example of a player in recent years who was groomed for eventual official coaching duties using this practice was Avery Johnson.

Player-manager Edit

Player/manager is a sports term used to described a manager of a team who is also registered to play for the team. In association football, this situation usually arises when a manager leaves a team suddenly, and the chairman has to make a quick decision to appoint someone new as a caretaker manager. The chairman will usually either ask a coach to take temporary charge or turn to the club's most senior player. If this particular player gains good results for the team during his time in charge, he may be appointed full-time manager, which leaves him a player/manager. One of the most well known football player-manager was Kenny Dalglish who was appointed player-manager at Liverpool FC following the Heysel Stadium disaster. Other notably successful football player/managers include Alan Curbishley (Charlton Athletic F.C. (1991 - 1996)) , Trevor Francis (Queens Park Rangers FC (1988 - 1989), Sheffield Wednesday FC (1991 - 1995)), Ruud Gullit (Chelsea FC (1996 - 1998)) and Gianluca Vialli ((Chelsea FC (1998 - 2000)) .

However, there are instances when a free agent is signed by a new team as a manager and offers his playing abilities.

In the United States, player/managers and player-coaches were once common, especially in the early days of baseball. The last player-manager in Major League Baseball was Pete Rose, who began managing the Cincinnati Reds in 1985, the second-to-last season of his playing career. Ty Cobb, Cap Anson, Joe Cronin, Connie Mack, John McGraw, Tris Speaker, Frank Robinson, Joe Torre and Lou Boudreau all spent time as player-managers. In this capacity, Robinson became the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball (for the Cleveland Indians in 1975). Fred Clarke (Pittsburgh NL) spent the longest time as a player-manager. Major league rules are somewhat different for trips to the mound by the manager if he is a player-manager (this is with regard to being required to change pitchers), and a player-manager puts himself into or out of the lineup just like any other player.

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