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Monday, September 2, 2013

Intangibles

Needless to say, things get a little weird during football season.  All analogies revolve around football, the mood revolves around the team, my thoughts are about finding new angles to communicate a particular message and so on.
My writing always seems to be about one thing but its usually about another.  Like I said, the analogies are usually fitness based, but rarely actually about fitness.  But football to me, has given more life lessons than any other teacher or experience and it never really stops.  Every season I've coached, something new has come to light.  I think partly because I'm getting older and things change in the 7-8 months I'm away form a team atmosphere.  But just as new things show themselves to me, the old is still there, still beating away, and those are the intangibles.

All coaches have fancy little playbooks with crazy terminology that can sound like a tongue twister.  Words often rhyme or start with "L's," or "R's" and have even numbers for play on the right and odd numbers for plays on the left.  That's serious but I say it kind of sarcastically, because coaches can sometimes take their plays a bit too serious.  I don't mean that to minimize anyone's work.  Its incredibly hard to create a unique playbook from scratch that is competitive on the weekends.   But with football, I'm kind of caveman sometimes and I like to run straight and make things go boom. :)  I like to line up and see who's who, who has the stones to hit and grind and drive and not give up... like I said, the intangibles.

#1 Effort
     Its very easy for me to see this during conditioning.  Somethings you just cannot fake and effort is #1.  You can fake being a tough guy.  You can fake being hurt.  You can fake having a certain skill.  but you cannot fake effort.  You can try and try, but it will always be there.  Make your face grimace all you want, pump those arms like mad and come up gasping for air... I still see fresh legs.
     I told the guys today, the two hardest things to learn as young players is "What FULL GO, really means," and "learning what their bodies are truly capable of," both are things I struggled with when I was younger.
     I do not believe FULL GO effort, can be achieved while thinking.  I believe it happens with confidence and then instincts.  If I'm in a position that I've never experienced, I'm probably thinking "Am I OK?  Am I doing this right?" and therefore not moving the way I could or should.  Why?  Inexperience.  Its not a fault or a negative, it is what it is.
     But when the coin is flipped, and I'm in the opposite position where I have experience, I am comfortable, what excuse is there to not go FULL GO?  Whats excuse is there to not put forth 150% effort and energy?
The analogy:  What position have you been in where you may have pulled back, when you should have or could have pushed ahead?  Why?

#2 Vision
     Do you know what you want?
     Do you know why you want it?
     Do you truly know why you want it?
     Lets take it to the football team, doesn't matter the team.  They'll all say the same thing "To win the championship."  OK, the goal is to win a championship.
     What are you going to do to make that happen?  And the answers form here head all over the place, "I'm going to train hard, I'm going to eat right, I'm going to study film, I'm going to be a better teammate, I'm going to listen to my coaches, I'm going to practice in the off-season," and all of those answers fit.  That's the vision.
The analogy:  Have you ever known you wanted something but had no idea how to achieve it?  What did you do?

#3 Preparation
     So you know what you want... so what?  You cant just fly out there and do it, living off of your vision and imagination.  You have to prepare.  You have to prepare your mind more than anything else.  Our bodies are our magnificent tools and we have the ability to shape them and use them as we see fit, if we choose to do so.  Its our minds that control that.  Our minds control what we do with our time.  Our minds control what we eat.  Our minds control whether we sign up for a class at a local community college or just talk about.  Our minds decide if we go for a run or sit on our butts.  So whatever it is we have a desire to achieve, that vision, our minds must be willing to make that commitment.
     We play every Friday night.  The preparation starts Saturday morning (actually the prep work started last January but that blog will take about 80 pages worth), we watch film, we stretch, we ice a little, we talk about things we can improve on, we talk about things that went well and so on.  In films, we watch the opponent and look for ways to take advantage of mismatches or to prepare for certain formations and plays out of them that may give us a hard time.  That's part of the preparation.  From there, we take it to field and go through these plays and practice what we'll do in certain situations vs certain plays or players.  All part of the preparation.  This goes on and on, until Friday night where the preparation is on display.
    One memorable moment I had that I was pretty proud was a few years ago.  I was coaching a defense and we were matched up with a pretty arrogant team with an even more arrogant offensive coach... let me pause and say this, I'm a defensive coach.  I've coached all defensive positions from the D-Line to Linebackers to the secondary... I instinctively dislike offenses and offensive coaches.  I think they're sneaky people :) Anyway, going against this arrogant little Napoleon figure, I wanted to whoop his butt and show him real fast that we were ready for his tricks.  I watched probably 3 seasons worth of his calls and I noticed something.  He had a massive ego.  And when pressured, he would call some goofy obscure formation and play like something a kid would draw up in the back yard with his friends... and we knew it was coming.  We practiced all week long and we knew they would try something like this.  By some crazy coincidence, they did the exact thing we practiced for... total guess :)  and it worked for us.  Preparation.
The analogy:  Have you ever been in a position where you were confident just because of your preparation?
     
 #4-#5 Focus-Determination
     These two are nearly the same, different, but too similar for me to separate.
     You have your vision... you're ready to prepare... you have effort pouring out of your ears!  but...
     Whats going to happen when you catch a cold?  Or pull a muscle in your back?  Or your teammates aren't stepping up the way you thought they would?  Or your diet is too hard to keep on track?  Maybe you aren't picking up the material the way you thought you would?  What are you going to do?
     Now we're talking about focus and determination.
     Maybe you need to go back to your "why."   Maybe you need to step away for a moment and breathe, check the landscape and go back in.   Maybe you're not really working as hard as you thought you were....
     You have to know what you want and you have to stick with it, to have the focus to fight through the rough spells, and to have the determination to not give up, no matter how hard it gets.
The analogy:  Have you ever had a rough spell on your quest and your focus and determination kept you strong?
   
#6 The "X" Factor
     I recently had some car trouble and it turns out one of the fixes was pretty simple.  I apologized for wasting Marks time (excellent and honest mechanic on the corner of Wilson Mills and Richmond Rd).  He said "Don't apologize. This is my expertise and you have your expertise."  True.
    We are all great at something, maybe even a few different things.  True greatness.  Something that's just in us and we just kick ass at it.  That's our "X" factor, that's what we're here for.
Have you found yours?  Maybe you have but you've pushed it aside?  Maybe it didn't make enough money?

Personal note:
Mine... I'm very good at lighting fires under asses :)   and I love doing it.  I dont even think it matters where I am.  I can be with a team or working with some insurance salesman, makes no difference.
I pretty much always have a team or two i'm working with, and after one of our first sessions we were about to break out for the night and one of the kids said "Arent you going to say anything?"  I said what do you mean?  She said "last year, you always pumped us up after a workout... we want that."   I thought... wowwwwwww, and some goose bumps popped up.  I was thinking, hey this was a chill night, we're just getting to know each other again and these kids we're already like "Um no, lets do this right now." So it was on from there.  From then on, I started noticing, that's what they were coming for and it definitely made me step it up.

And when you have a vision and you have a "why," and you focus and prepare and work with effort, anything can happen, whether its football, volleyball, sales, production, management, acct management, relationships, life, building a camp fire, washing your car, taking a class, anything big or small or whatever, anything can happen.

People ask me, "What do those hoops mean under your arm?"

Never give up.