elitefts™ Sunday Edition

Last week, we played a team we should have beaten easily. We didn’t beat them easily. They hung around, and hung around, and hung around, and we needed to make a few key plays late in the game to put them away. A game that, on paper, should have been a blowout turned into a one possession affair in the fourth quarter.

This happened because we took them lightly. We have a major rivalry game coming up in two weeks, and a series of easily beatable opponents leading up to it. Our players and players from our archrival team are already taking shit to each other on Twitter. In newspaper accounts of both teams’ games, it’s continually noted that we’re playing them soon.

In other words, last week, we were concentrating on everything and everyone but the team we were actually playing.

Yesterday, I was talking to my favorite EliteFTS employee, who asked me who we were playing this week. I gave a little account of what we’re facing, and then I said, “It’s the most important game of my life.”

“Why?” this person asked.

“Because it’s the next one.”

I’m not criticizing our team or our coaches. I’ve been doing the same thing, telling everyone who’ll listen how awesome we are, and how we have a great chance of beating our archrivals this year. If you’d stopped me midweek last week, I would have told you all about it—again, talking a mile a minute about everything but the task at hand. And that’s a problem.

So, what I’m addressing this week, but with the athletes and in my own life, is the idea of being in the moment and focusing on what you need to do, when you need to do it.

I’ve made no secret of the coaches I admire in this profession. The four big ones that come to mind right now are Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, and my newest addition, Washington State coach Mike Leach (I just finished reading Leach’s book, Swing Your Sword, which was awesome, and which I’ll review in an upcoming post). All of these great coaches approach their week in a similar way—and it doesn’t involve looking past the job at hand.

Ever since Alabama turned into debatably the most dominant team in college football history, we’ve heard a lot about Saban’s system, which he calls “The Process.” I’ve done a lot of research into The Process. I’ve read Saban’s book, I’ve watched lots of his speeches online, and I’ve spoken to other coaches who’ve been to his clinics, and from all of that, I’ve determined that there’s no real secret to it. All you have to do in order to live your life within the bounds of The Process is do one task at a time, focusing all your energy on that task—with no detail being too small.

In other words, even for something simple like making your bed, all you need to do is be completely focused on that, and do the best job of making your bed that you possibly can. If you consistently do everything right, it all adds up.

Belichick has another thing that I think every program and company should emulate. In the Patriots facility, they have a famous sign hanging in several places. It says, simply, “Do Your Job.”

To me, as a player or assistant coach, this means you’re willing to be led. It means the head guy knows what the f**k he’s doing, but in order to get from point A to point B—assuming you trust him to lead you there—you have to do the task assigned to you and let him worry about the big picture. You’re given your assignment. All you have to do is carry it out as best you can, with 100 percent of your focus and commitment.

My job as a coach is to make sure my position group is ready to integrate itself into the grand scheme, which I’m required to have a perfect understanding of. After that, my job is to watch enough film to have a clear understanding of what our opponent is going to do—what their tendencies are, what they call on certain downs and distances, and what they like to fall back on when things go sideways. And after that, my job is to be on a headset communicating what I see to the various coaches on the sideline.

Every responsibility I have pertains to the next game. Not for the week after that, or the week after that, no matter how big or important those games look right now. My job description does not include reading tweets, talking shit, or posting on Facebook. Those things won’t help us win this week. They don’t fall under the aegis of “Do Your Job.”

So, that’s all I’m worried about this week. Doing my job. Making sure every rep is as perfect as we can get it. Making sure all my paperwork is organized. Making sure the team is motivated and ready to work. Making sure every line is toed, every angle is covered, and every single thing is precisely the way we want it to be.

That’s how you have to play it when you’re preparing for the most important game of your career: Your next one.

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