6 Lessons From Joe Torre

Legendary Yankees Manager

I’ve kept a handwritten list of six lessons from Joe Torre over my desk for the past decades. I want to keep them front and center and top of mind.

Lessons from Joe Torre

Here are the 6 Lessons From Joe Torre
  1. Ditch the motivational speeches–more 1 on 1, short informational, philosophy daily
  2. Be intense, not tense–passionate about teaching, focus on the competitive nature, relaxed on game day
  3. Each person must feel useful –clearly defined roles, speak often to all players, everybody is important
  4. Don’t punish failure–hold to standard, but don’t yell or sub out on error, celebrate success
  5. Manage against the cycle–hard on team when succeeding
  6. Manage your boss

I can’t remember where I got these lessons from Joe Torre. Whether someone else put out a list or I distilled them from an article. I wish I could remember in order to give credit.

I do know that when I get too far from following these rules that I am not as good a coach. They seem simple, but all are hard to do regularly, which explains his tremendous success and longevity.

Lessons from Joe Torre


Get Out of Your Own Way

How do you get out of your own way? In sports and in life. It’s a question that comes up all the time when pursuing excellence.

Here’s Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated addressing the question while writing about Steve Kerr’s love of the great book The Inner Game of Tennis by Steven Gallwey.

According to Gallwey, there are. One is your mind (“Self One”) and the other your body (“Self Two”). And far too often in sports, Self One is berating Self Two. We’re constantly disappointed in ourselves (“My backhand sucks today! Hit a goddamn shot!”). Here we have a remarkable physical machine, one capable of innately calculating and executing complicated sequences in microseconds, and we treat it with contempt. The question for the athlete, as Kerr puts it: “How do you get out of your own way? How do you stop the chatter in your mind?”

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Is It Fun? Are They Learning? Did You Improve Today?

Is it fun? Do you love it? Are they learning? Did you improve today? These are the questions we should be asking more often if we really care about  retaining participants in our sports or on our teams.

are they learning?Photo by ·tlc∙

The Positive Coaching Alliance reported recently that up to seventy five percent of young soccer players are dropping out by 12 years of age. Let me repeat that– 75% are dropping out.

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Bob Bradley: All about learning

Bob BradleyGreat contribution by Coach Bob Bradley over at the Player’s Tribune.

What stands out the most?

How much he values learning.

I’ve learned a lot from observing Sacchi, Ferguson and Guardiola. I also learned just as much from watching Pete Carril — the former men’s basketball coach at Princeton, where I was the soccer coach from 1984 to ’95 — teach his players the importance of a good pass. I still learn from the intelligent way Gregg Popovich handles his team and the media.

When I took the UEFA Pro Licence course, which is required to coach in a top league in Europe, I explained to a few of my Norwegian friends that there are no basketball coaching licenses in the U.S. Coaching is a craft. You learn from playing, doing, experimenting, emulating, adjusting. You never stop learning. You learn from your players, from your experiences.

You learn from the game.

The other thing that stands out is his willingness to take responsibility.

I failed. Failed to put my stamp on the team at Swansea. To give it a real identity. A real personality. I never managed to find the right balance between attack and defense. I couldn’t find the answers for this group to play with the commitment and passion that so many of my other teams possessed. We never found consistency or confidence.

Paul Clement followed me as manager and has done an excellent job. Team shape has improved and the confidence has returned. Yes, Paul benefitted from the transfer window that I never had. But that’s football. It can be a tough business and it’s important to respect good work. Full credit to Paul.

Go read it.

Love to Read. Podcasts Devoted to Books

Do you love to read? Are you often searching for great coaching books? Me too. I also love to walk to work in the morning and listen to podcasts.

So I am happy when I can combine these two favorites and listen to podcasts focused on books on my walk. Tim Ferris of The Four Hour Work Week fame devotes quite a few of his podcasts episodes to books. My favorite of these was with Josh Waitzkin the author of The Art of Learning.

I imagine most of you have heard about Tim Ferris and his podcast.  So, here’s two you may not have heard about:

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Scott Brooks: “You Have to Develop The Greatness Out of All The Players”

Scott BrooksI had not heard of Scott Brooks (probably in the minority) until I read an article on Yahoo about his success as the head coach of the Washington Wizards. Brooks formerly of the Oklahoma Thunder has led the Wizards to renewed success recently.

Yesterday I wrote about OKC guard Russell Westbrook. He developed into an NBA success story playing alongside MVP Kevin Durant, but he is now the team leader and the star of the Thunder. The NYT published a fascinating profile of him.

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Russell Westbrook In Pursuit of the Triple Double

Russell WestbrookI missed this last week.  The New York Times did a feature on Oklahoma Thunder basketball player Russell Westbrook.

Sam Anderson unpacks Westbrook’s genius as a player, his famous basketball relationship with teammate Kevin Durant who has departed for the Warriors, and his personality.

It’s a great read.

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Weekend Links: A Measured Dose of Chaos

Another snowy Sunday. A good time for the weekend links.

Goodbye to the morning skate

The Columbus Blue Jackets see it that way. Head coach John Tortorella, who is one of the favourites to win the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, killed the practice completely earlier this season — and the team responded with a 16-game winning streak.

“I think it’s huge for the players,” said Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson, who is tied for fourth in the league with 26 goals and is one goal away from his career high. “You want to be ready to go for the game, not so much for the morning skate. You want to save all your energy. I don’t think it’s a secret. I could see more and more teams doing it.”

Lessons From the Championship

Training Towards Reality

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