The Playbook: A Coach’s Rules For Life

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Playbook: A Coach’s Rules For Life TV Poster Image
Insightful docu offers great life lesson, some cursing.

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Positive Messages

The series explores the individual stories of some of the world’s greatest coaches from their point of view. Themes like racism, sexism, and LGBTQ+ in sports are discussed. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The coaches, who are male and female and Black and White, are extremely successful in their careers, but they discuss the obstacles they had to overcome to get there. They share what motivates them, and the philosophies, expertise, and strategies that guide their coaching decisions. They also discuss the consequences of their professional decisions on both their careers and personal lives. One coach is very arrogant.


Featured plays in game footage show lots of pushing, shoving, and other rough behavior. Arguments between players and referees are occasionally shown. 


Single-sex partnerships and parenthood are discussed, but not in a sexual manner. 


Curses ("s--t," "f--k") and racist remarks are audible in some episodes. The “N” word is used, but within a historical and biographical context. 


Featured media footage contains lots of NBA, WNBA, and other sports franchise logos, as well as corporate logos for Nike and other sponsoring companies. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Playbook: A Coach’s Rules For Life is a documentary series featuring some of the world's greatest sports coaches. The series addresses mature themes, ranging from sexism, racism, and anti-LGTBQ+ sentiment in sports, to coping with the pressures that come with being a player and a coach in a major sports franchise. Cursing is frequent, including "s--t" and "f--k," and racist remarks are audible in some episodes. In one specific episode the "N" word is used (by way of explanation). Footage of practices, games, and matches feature lots of rough play, and on occasion, some unsportsmanlike behavior. 

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What's the story?

THE PLAYBOOK: A COACH’S RULES FOR LIFE is a Netflix documentary that features some of the sports world’s greatest coaches sharing the rules that guide their professional careers and personal lives. The series features interviews with NBA coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers, WNBA Hall of Fame member and University of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, former USA Women’s Soccer team coach Jill Ellis, and José Mourinho, who manages the Premier League Tottenham Hotspur football club. Rounding out the cast is Patrick Mouratoglou, best known for being Serena Williams’ tennis coach. With the help of archival footage of practices and sporting events, each coach shares who and what has inspired them throughout their lives, and what they’ve learned from decades of playing and coaching their sport. 

Is it any good?

This insightful documentary series features some of the world’s most successful coaches talking about the evolution of their coaching careers and what drives their coaching philosophies. They share what they’ve learned throughout the process, including how they’ve motivated players, the importance of losing, and in some cases, the fear of getting fired when it happens too often. Some of the consequences their careers have had on their private lives, and what they’ve learned when that's happened, is also discussed.  

The pivotal moments of each coach’s career, many of which occurred publicly, are addressed, even if she or he refuses to comment on them. But most of the series serves as a platform from which each person can share what they feel are the most important rules to live by based on their own experiences. As a result, The Playbook offers viewers a collection of interesting life lessons that are worth listening to, even if you’re not an athlete. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the lessons offered in The Playbook. How does each coach’s philosophy apply to life outside of sports? Did you find any of the rules they discussed helpful when thinking about your own life?

  • What are some of the challenges coaches face when doing their jobs? Is it just about making sure their team or player wins? What role does the media play in their careers?

  • Was there a coach that you feel especially drawn to or inspired by? What are some of the characteristics of the coach, and/or his or her philosophy on and off the court, that resonated with you? 

TV details

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For kids who love sports

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