Top 20 Terrifying Coaches in Sports History

Coaching or managing a team is an incredibly demanding job and requires a number of different skills. To lead a team of individuals you need to command respect, and much like the teachers you get in school , people go about doing this in different ways. Throughout all the major sports there have been many coaches and managers that strike fear in just about everyone that crosses their path, and using this to lead a team can (sometimes) work to great effect. These coaches may have a tendency to throw tantrums on the sidelines, chew a player’s ear off, confront referees or simply give a deathly stare to whoever has wronged them.

Of course it is not just the players under them that have to tread lightly, it is also the press, as many of these coaches and managers are notorious for their interviews which leave reporters shaking in their boots. These interviews can provide a great source of entertainment for the fans at home, and they can even endear you to the coach or manager who has such a strong vision for how they want the game to be played.

Many of the coaches on this list are perfectionists, which is why they so often appear irate on the sidelines or have no problem getting in the face of their star player. It is also important to note that just because these coaches are terrifying it does not mean that the players do not enjoy playing for them. There is often a tremendous amount of trust and respect in the relationship between player and coach which goes both ways. Gregg Popovich is a prime example of this, as he does not hesitate to shout or give a frosty stare to the likes of Duncan, Parker and Ginobli, but it is clear that everyone on the Spurs roster buys into Popovich’s military like system and they enjoy playing for him.

Here are 20 of the most terrifying coaches in professional sports history across football, hockey, baseball, basketball and soccer. There are many college coaches that would slot into this list, but this will focus on the major professional sports.

20 Quin Snyder

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

19 Ozzie Guillen

AP Photo/Charles Cherney

Ozzie Guillen was a manager that was constantly in the middle of some controversy, and both his actions and comments stirred these controversies which have earned him a spot on this list. He has a history of saying whatever is on his mind, which makes him intimidating to players, other coaches, reporters and of course the umpires.

18 Jim Playfair

17 Roy Keane


16 Mike Ditka

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

15 Louis Van Gaal


14 Jim Mora Sr.

AP Photo/Greg Trott

13 Ken Hitchcock

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

12 Jerry Sloan


11 Peter Laviolette

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

10 Bobby Cox

Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

9 Jim Harbaugh

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

8 Bill Belichick

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

7 Brian Clough


6 Earl Weaver


5 Gregg Popovich

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

4 John Tortorella

3 Sir Alex Ferguson


2 Tom Coughlin

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

1 Lou Piniella

AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky

Angry. This is the first and best word to use when talking about Lou Piniella, and it didn't take much to get his blood boiling, and when he got angry he was going to take it out on someone or something. You always knew once you saw him leave the dugout that something special was about to happen, whether it was him throwing his hat on the floor in disgust as he chews an umpire’s ear off, spitting, kicking dirt at umpires or even picking up first base and throwing it into the outfield. This would of course always end in an ejection and provide a great source of entertainment for fans, but for umpires ‘Sweet Lou’ was a terrifying manager. Players were not safe from his wrath either, who he would often chastise and there is even footage of a clubhouse brawl between himself and Rob Dibble.

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Top 20 Terrifying Coaches in Sports History