Grow the Game®

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Coach Speak

I’ve been crisscrossing the country covering college football for ESPN this fall. It’s a fun way to see America. We’ve had notable stops in Pullman, Washington, Boulder, CO, College Station, TX, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Starkville, MS, Clemson, SC, Pittsburgh, PA, Lawrence, KS, and Atlanta, GA.

Our crew of Mark Jones, Louis Riddick and producer Kim Belton meet weekly with the coaching staffs of both teams for our show. Many of the coaching quotes are gems applicable in the lacrosse realm.

Coaching Quotes Heard on the College Football Beat:

“Practice TO BE a pro, don’t practice like a pro.”

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Get out of your comfort zone to grow.”

“Program culture is critical to player development.” The culture is the fertilized soil.

For players, there are three things that we must have, “Trust, respect and love.”

“The non-negotiables of culture are being on time, don’t miss any classes, and be coachable every day.” Culture is bigger than the lacrosse locker room and practice field. Culture is everywhere.

A barometer for my players…”Would I let them babysit my kids?”

On recruiting – “The character piece is huge, and you have to have talent and intellect. Will they learn the game the right way? Can they translate the film and white board into action?”

“It’s all about habits.” Amongst similarly talented players, those with the most disciplined habits will prevail.

“When we have a bye week, we like to change up the practice and meeting schedule. Break the monotony.” Mow your lawn with a different pattern.

“We look for defensive players who are fast, aggressive and smart.” Player evaluation isn’t nuclear physics.

“More people give up, than succeed.” Every program is working hard. You can either outwork or outsmart the opponent.

On defense – “We want to apply pressure, not feel it. We want to look complex but remain simple.”

On defense – “Defense must be simplified in order to play fast. We just have to find a way to disrupt.”

On offense – “Don’t buy into the impulse plays. Get the ball to your playmakers. Make the defense adjust to us.”

“Relationships make your team stronger.” When you shake hands with your opponent at the middle of the field before every game, you need to know that your teammates have your back.

“We view program building similar to the NFL model – recruiting is equivalent to the draft and the transfer portal is what we consider free agency.”

“When it comes to the transfer portal, we must be willing to say no. We research their background thoroughly. WE select the player, they don’t choose us.”

“Impactful player leadership changes the behavior of teammates.” It’s got to be more than words. A player lead team puts words into action.

“A true rivalry game needs to mean something.” Regardless of yearly, standings Army/Navy, Ohio State, Michigan, Harvard / Yale, North Carolina / Duke – these games resonate with fans and we need to put them on a pedestal and share with the wider college sports audience.

“Become obsessed with winning, and being the best version of yourself where the small things matter…while elevating your standard on a daily basis.” This is Kobe’s mamba mentality.

On the efficiency of a unit – “It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we are on the same page.”

“Our differences bind us together.” In the locker room, or on the bus, and during meals, embrace the differences in team members. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. Everybody has value.

“Don’t waste a failing.” Making a mistake is not the end of the world, but failing to improve from that mistake, is. Don’t make the same mistake twice and learn from the mistakes of others.

This week I’ll be in Provo, Utah at the base of the Wasatch mountains covering Oklahoma at BYU on Saturday. Game kicks at noon ESPN.