No Team Wants To Be the Stepping Stone In The Coach’s Career

No team, no athlete wants to be just the stepping stone in the coach’s career.  You may be an incredibly sincere coach, but this perception is hard to overcome. It’s especially hard to overcome if player management is your strength.

Adam Bate has taken a thoughtful look at soccer coach Marco Silva over at Sky Sports site.  He unpacks the reasons for his success and how those very strengths led to his firing.


His success is grounded in sophisticated and knowledgeable training methods, and importantly in his capacity to manage players.


“The first thing about Marco Silva is that he is a good person,” adds Taylor. “He is very fair. Everyone wants to fight for him because he respects each guy on the team. The second thing is that he has also got a strong character. I think that is very important if you want to be a good manager because players need to respect you.”

So why was he fired?

Perhaps this is the ingredient that went missing in Silva’s recipe for success. Once clear that Everton’s advances were not unwelcome, it became harder to buy what he was selling. This is the era of the big idea, where every coach needs a philosophy and every team must be on a journey. When it was obvious Silva wanted to get off the bus, that idea was lost.

Watford have conceded more goals in the final 15 minutes than any other Premier League team this season. Asked to delve deep for their manager, as they had in salvaging a point in stoppage time on the opening weekend against Liverpool, Watford’s players could no longer summon the fight. The ‘little relationships’ of which his former players speak were broken.

Now of course the obvious counterpoint to this perspective is how little loyalty is shown by clubs to coaches.  You can find those examples littered about.

But the point made here is that he lost the players with whom he had built so much trust.  They perceived him to be leaving. The felt they might be the stepping stone in the coach’s career.  As a result the players lost their ability to buy into his powerful capacity to build a shared vision.

Worth thinking about.






I’m Not Dieting. Not This Year.

I’m not dieting. Not this year. Not ever. I sat by the diet section at Barnes and Noble the other day and surveyed all the titles. I opened some and read a bit. In some ways they complemented each other. In other ways they contradicted each other. Every author so certain. Every book an exact prescription for getting to your ideal weight.

I’m not doing it ever again.

I’m tired of being told my Fitbit won’t help me, maybe even hurt my efforts, and then told well, hey maybe it will work.  I can’t believe I have to read over and over again that exercising won’t help you lose weight.  And then reading how much and how often I need to get moving.

The problem with all of it for me, is that it is all out of context.  The context is the individual.  Each of us has a different reaction to all of these factors. To what we eat, to exercise, to sleep and stress. If we would pause and pay attention to ourselves, if we would wake up to what our priorities are, I bet we could each get significantly healthier in 2018.

I don’t want to work out until I am actually working out.  Then I love it. I can only run hard so many days a week without pain. I like to lift but only for a short period of time so I have to accommodate this. If I think my workout will be an hour, I skip it.  Ten minutes? I’m in. I love to play a game of well anything. How often do I play? Rarely. This has to change.

I have time right now. I am using part of that time to get fit. Not skinny but fit. See if my insides can stay super healthy into the second half of my living.  If I can keep my joints and keep them relatively pain free.

I am playing with the balance between hard workouts and lighter workouts. I am redefining what stress is to me and challenging myself with workouts right on the edge of my ability to succeed.  I am redefining rest to include long slow walks in the woods and not just a total day off with a book.

I’m a vegetarian because the meat industry seems so damn cruel.  Combine that with the damage to the planet and I am motivated. I like vegetables and I like a variety of them. Raw is good, cooked is good. I don’t love fruits, but again if I can get it down to a limited amount I’m in. An apple a day? That’s fine. Hand me the apple.

I am enjoying the creativity of cooking, the simplicity of water, and the discipline of occasional fasting. (The benefits of the latter are beyond physical fitness.)

I am starting to journal again and note where I actually am in the process. Did that work? Did I enjoy that? I recognize that some of this may change. I expect it will.

I am paying attention.

I am writing more and quoting others less.

I am also extending the bounds of my reading. I have always read quite a bit, but I am returning to books more. Fewer and fewer of those are about elite performance, or what the evidence says. More and more they are about the lived experiences of others, their insights, their journeys and lessons.  Their context.

So, I’m not dieting. Not this year. Instead I’m looking forward to a purposeful and healthy 2018. I hope you are too.



Here’s an Example of Growth Mindset

I was watching the evening news the other day and I saw this example of growth mindset.

Did you see the PBS segment about Patrice Banks who learned to be a mechanic well into adulthood?  She then started her own shop targeted at women customers and staffed exclusively by women.


  • “It was rough, this dirty garage with a bunch of men that don’t care, cursing, screaming, yelling at me. But, again, I kept telling myself, like, Patrice, you’re on a mission here. Right? This is just growth, you’re learning. You’re not here for these people, right? You’re here for women and you’re here to learn.”


If you are looking for a great example of growth mindset then give it a watch.

Great out of sports example of growth mindset.


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So, that’s the Feature. What’s the Benefit?

Selling Benefits, Not Features

Coaches, when you’re out there recruiting athletes, ask yourself a simple question: are you selling benefits of attending your school or simply the listing the positive features of your school?

What do I mean by this question?

Well, in sales we make a distinction between the feature, the positive fact or attribute about your school, and the benefit that the feature will bring to your customer.

In other words, how does this feature benefit the prospect while at your school and after?

Continue reading “So, that’s the Feature. What’s the Benefit?”

The Best Want to Get Better

coaching elite athletes







One thing to keep in mind when coaching elite athletes: The best want to get better. Rarely are they complacent or satisfied with where they are. This is a significant part of what makes them the best.  They take pride in their craft.

There is a great article at Training Ground Guru about Rene Meulensteen’s coaching process with some of the best players in the world that illustrates this point.  Meulensteen served as the “skill development coach” at Manchester United under Ferguson. He was hired to improve the skills of the first team which employed some of the best players in the game.

Continue reading “The Best Want to Get Better”

Weekend Links: Sports and Money

Weekend links to sports and money:


Nadal at the French Open The New Yorker

Confidence is crucial for any athlete, but especially a tennis player. After all, he or she has no one else to turn to. The place to look is always inward. It’s existential. Tennis players call it belief, and they talk about it, mostly to themselves, all the time.

Conflict Management The Blizzard Football Quarterly

Continue reading “Weekend Links: Sports and Money”

The Success Equation: Skill Plus Luck Equals Success

Success Equation: Skill Plus Luck

success equation: skill plus luckHave you read Michael Maboussin’s book  —The Success Equation?

I have been reading different Michael Maboussin  for a long time. He is a very successful investor who often writes about luck and its impact on investing and sports.

I find the intersection of these two disciplines fascinating.

Well, he is back out with another persuasive article. This time Maboussin presents compelling information on the need for more and more luck as the skill level of competitors  increases. If skill intensifies in a discipline than we find ourselves back in a dynamic in which luck comes into play.

He calls this the “paradox of skill”:

“..This is one of the lessons of the paradox of skill. Getting better in an absolute sense doesn’t matter if it’s offset by the competition. Hitters today are much better than they were in the past, but so are the pitchers. The improvement is obscured by the interaction”

The article also touches briefly on Anders Ericcson’ work on deliberate training in Peak.  Basically he is reminding us that the increase in skill is due to a tremendous increase in training.
The entire article is worth your time. You can read it article here.
Updated: Here’s a podcast from the capitalallocatorpodcast in which he speaks more about the paradox of skill.





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After Your Best Player Retires

Consider how hard it is coach your team to great results after your best player retires.  Tim Duncan, one of best and most consistent players in the history of the league, retired this year. He played for the San Antonio Spurs.

The Guardian looks at the remarkable coaching job Gregg Poppovich has done with the San Antonio Spurs this year.

Most franchises would be expected to have a down season, but the Spurs continued to excel.

Popovich has won NBA coach of the year just three times in his 21 seasons. Likewise, LeBron James has only been deemed league MVP four times in 14 seasons and isn’t even a finalist for the award this year. Both men are so consistently excellent that there’s an urge among voters to almost punish them for it and feel the need to honor some other coach or player this year because surely Pop and LeBron will have more opportunities to win individual awards down the road. But if all was fair, each man would have double-digit trophies and no one could rightly complain. Maybe the better idea is to just name the NBA’s coach of the year award the Pop Trophy and then it won’t matter who they give it to.

after your best player retiresPoppovich is one of my favorite coaches of all time.

I’ve written about him before here and here.