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Saturday, February 13, 2010

COACH SABAN: COACHING TODAY'S ATHLETE (PART III)

The following is the 3rd of four parts of notes taking from a Coach Nick Saban clinic talk while he was coaching at LSU:

I think the one thing we need to do differently in motivating players and helping them be successful is not to talk about results. Our goal next year is to be a dominant football team that is a nationally recognized program. It doesn’t have anything to do with winning the SEC championship, going to bowls, or how many games we are going to win. All the expectations will be made up by that little fat guy, who never played a down and writes for some newspaper.

If you don’t get result-oriented with the kids, you can focus on the things in the process that are important to them being successful. That is the only way they are going to compete the way you want them to. It is hard to create a relentless competitor. To get a player to play every down, play hard, with toughness and responsibility, and do a good job is the most difficult part of coaching. There are three intangibles that take no athletic ability that aids a player in being responsible for this own self-determination. Those three intangibles take the most time in coaching in my opinion. Those intangibles are effort, toughness, and assignment.

When I talk bout toughness, I’m talking about mental and physical toughness. The player’s ability to make the play when the game is on the line is mental toughness. The assignment part of those intangibles is to know what your job is. Every time we don’t have a successful play, it goes back to a mental error, missed assignment, or lack of technique trying to carry out that assignment.

When you talk about results, you create problems for yourself. If you can focus on intangible things, your players will compete better for you. They will overcome adversity better for you. Everybody wants to win a national championship. But why would you put that as one of your goals? What happens when you lose the first game? Are you going to change the goal board? The personality of your team should be what you try to get them to define, not the results.

How do you make players believe in themselves? I ask my players what they think everyone in the room thinks of them. Forget about yourself; it’s about how you affected anybody in this room. I know players today are self-absorbed. That doesn’t mean they are selfish. If you are self-absorbed all you think about is how it affects you. If you are selfish you want it for yourself. When you are self-absorbed, you have a hard time thinking about how what you do effects someone else.

They have to take ownership for something big. I ask our players how big their frying pan is. That comes from a story about a fisherman in West Virginia catching catfish. He was throwing the big fish back. He said he had only a nine-inch frying pan at home. His whole deal as a fisherman was based on how he could cook them. That’s what I ask our team/ How much capacity do you have for success? How much do you believe in yourself? What do you expect to accomplish? The answer is not in wins and losses and championships. I think it is how you play the game. That point seems to have lost its importance in today’s game.