Figure It Out

Let me ask you a question:

What do you think holds back more young coaches just entering the business? Is it failure to memorize every detail of the playbook, or is it when the head coach doesn’t feel like he can trust them to get something done on time?

If you’re brand new to coaching and want to find a way to break into the business, guess what? You’re gonna have to figure a lot out on your own.

Want to know how you can help right away, and more importantly, create a position for yourself? Be the guy they call when they need a powerpoint presentation put together at the last minute, or they need 100 copies made of this week’s scouting report, or the projector just went out and they need a new bulb.

I’ve written before about how when you’re starting out, you’ve got to find ways to make yourself useful, and these are some great ways to do it.

A lot of guys don’t believe me when I tell them that one of the most valuable skills you can have these days is to be able to use Microsoft Office well, or whatever program your team uses to draw up schemes for your scouting reports and playbook.

Jon Gruden used to practice drawing circles for hours, so that when it came time to draw up plays on the board, or put together the scouting report, he was the guy the coaches would put in charge of it.

Don’t know how to use a copier? Figure it out.

Don’t know how to change a projector bulb? Figure it out.

Don’t know how to put together an opponent tendency report? Figure it out.

I can’t tell you how many times I saw coaches give other young guys a job, and then watched those same guys go back to the coach 4-5 times to ask more questions about the tiniest, most insignificant details.

Figure. It. Out.

The coach is giving you that job so that he doesn’t have to spend his own time dealing with it. If you make a habit of bothering him about a job he just gave you, you’re not saving him any time at all, and you may as well wear a sign on your back that reads, “I CAN’T BE TRUSTED WITH ANYTHING MORE COMPLICATED THAN THIS.” That’s exactly the kind of thing you don’t want to become known for.

Understand that when you’re starting out, your job is to save time for everyone else. If I can’t trust you with that, how can I trust you to coach a position or call plays?

Put in extra time doing the things others won’t, or at the very least, know how to use Google, YouTube, and other sources of information online to find the answers you need in a hurry, because you’re going to have to get good at a little bit of everything. Believe it or not, that will set you apart from the majority of people in this world.

It’s not about the specific knowledge involved in changing a projector bulb, it’s about developing the ability to think for yourself and realize that once the head coach gives you an assignment, he doesn’t want to hear back from you until it’s finished.

If you become known as the reliable guy, the guy who doesn’t ask 50 million questions and just goes and figures it out for himself, you’ll have a reputation that will serve you well when it’s time to look for references for your next job.

Ultimately it comes down to the same “boring” stuff you hear repeated over and over again. Work hard, put in the time, and do everything you can to be an asset to the organization.


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