Jerry Rice, retired wide receiver of the San Francisco 49ers, is the leading points scorer in the NFL. It may surprise you to know that few NFL coaches wanted him on their team.
Except for one coach — Bill Walsh.
Rice wasn’t the fastest, the tallest or the strongest of college receivers. But Walsh drafted Rice nonetheless, few other teams were interested in him. That risk on Rice paid off with:
- 3 Super Bowl wins
- 13 Pro Bowl selections
- Over 100 NFL records
- Rice’s selection as NFL greatest player ever
The reported reason Walsh picked Rice — because of his maneuverability.
Maneuverability, the ability to change speed, direction, even reverse course with little negative impact, is what Jerry Rice did exceptional well.
Let me ask you, do you maneuver well while you coach?
Hard Right Turn
Why would a coach ever want to change speed, direction, or even put it in reverse? Aw heck, I can think of dozens of reasons, a few being:
a significant change in weather (more about that in a moment)
illness or injury that requires line up changes
sudden unfair conditions
a “gut instinct” you have and feel compelled to act on
There’s many more, but let me give you an example. On Sunday our student-athletes were scheduled to return to campus from winter break. On Monday the coaches were committed to a day of work in our boathouse on equipment. On Tuesday, voluntary workouts were scheduled to start for the athletes.
Before any of these plans happened, a blizzard named “Jonas” rolled in. I had to maneuver.
School was postponed until Wednesday so all those plans changed. I had to arrange alternate workout schedules, find a different time to get the equipment work done, and be ready for student-athletes who might not be able to return for many days (or a week) because of rescheduling cancelled flights.
Here’s another coaching example making national news … two sports teams were stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, due to the storm. The women’s gymnastics team from Temple and the men’s basketball team from Duquesne spent days in their buses, along with hundreds of other travelers. I’m sure the coaches aboard were wishing they could have maneuvered a different way home.
Actions To Contemplate
Here’s the point I’m trying to communicate:
- often our plans are good
- usually we know the best
- mostly our way will work
But not always, so that means there will be times when:
- another plan is needed
- we need more info
- a different approach is needed
The coach who is ready and willing to accept and maneuver in those times of change will find greater success, and peace of mind.
The key to successful maneuvering is limiting the negative impact when you need to do it. You can help this happen by taking 3 simple actions:
1. Communicate clearly – let them know a change is happening
2. Keep cool and calm – be the eye in the storm
3. Be empathetic – know that change is hard for others
That’s what Jerry Rice did. What I tried to do in response to the storm.
Where do you, and can you, maneuver in your coaching?
— — —
Did you know 73% of coaches are focusing on getting better in 2016, and 50% of coaches know that “why they coach” is to improve others? That’s what coaches told me in my recent 5-minute coaches survey (which you can take here, if you haven’t yet). And one reason why I wrote the e-book Build Your Team: How To Create, Lead & Protect The Sports Team Of Your Dreams due out next month.
It’s also why coach Mike Hughes and I are making recordings like this.
Make a ruckus and coach well. We need ya!