Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nick Saban’s Process

Now that Nick Saban has coached two national champion football teams at two different universities, his ‘process’ will be getting a lot of headlines. I thought I would give it to you as he presents it to his coaches and team.

• FOCUS ON THE PROCESS NOT THE RESULTS. The results will take care of themselves.

In some ways these are coaching cliché’s, but everyone I know who is around Saban speak of his relentless work ethic and demand for others to grind it out with him. He also studies human psychology and understands techniques needed to motivate today’s players. He is more of a positive energetic pusher to the players in public and just rips his coaches in private. Love him or hate him, he has command and everyone around him keeps in step.

I heard Saban speak at a clinic when he was at LSU and he spoke of how he needed to adjust his coaching style. Here are the notes I took:

“Never before has coaching had a greater challenge or greater responsibility. I have found it difficult coaching players who are a product of this culture.
Kids have too many choices and too few commitments and very few consequences. They are self-absorbed (not selfish), it’s just a mentality. They want to know “how does this benefit me?” Very few of our players coming into our program have ever experienced consequences and that means they do not know suffering. But if you don’t suffer, you never get hungry, and you never learn to fight

It is tough on coaches today. We have fewer coaches, less time with the athletes, and greater expectations.

So here are some adjustments I have had to make in my coaching style over the years.
I want to inspire learning. I bring in people and talk to my players about why I need to learn and why they need to learn. This involves character education: commitment-perseverance- integrity. We tell them, ‘there are no victories without adversity. That’s tough to teach when there’s a re-set button on the X-box.

I constantly put before them a roadmap: ‘graduate- perform with confidence and consistency’. I create their expectations- I tell them to not let the media or public do it. A kid coming in our program today believes he needs to win the Heisman or go to the NFL to validate his career. We need to make his expectations realistic and give him a day- by -day plan to get there

I’ve learned to coach and not criticize. If you do not praise their good techniques, you better be careful about chewing on them. I want to catch them doing it right and point it out. The worst coaching ever is to scream, ‘CATCH THE BALL!’. Instead teach then how to catch the ball.

I tell them regardless of the game circumstances, NEVER show frustration. Don’t hit/ lash out/ throw things/argue – if you do that your opponent grows. If you always look determined and fighting- I have found a lot of these opponents crumble. Kids are front -runners. I tell my coaches- don’t vent on players or officials- it is a sign of weakness,not confidence.

A word about ‘character’. My definition of character is: my thoughts- habits- and priorities as shown daily in my choices

To put it this way- if all my players get is x’s and o’s , I’m not coaching. Today’s kids need character training first.”

We can all learn from these principles.

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