There Is a Reason There Is a Box


How often have you heard someone described as an “out of the box thinker” or heard someone praised for “thinking outside the box”. This is usually considered a compliment. However in a recent conversation with one of my clients (who happens to be a world renowned plastic surgeon) I made the statement that forms the title for this article. THERE IS A REASON THERE IS A BOX.  I went on to say that I thought most people would do well to really familiarize themselves with the inside of the box. I like to think that the coaches I admire could be described as someone who knows the subject matter “inside and out” vs someone who thinks outside the box.

Coach John Wooden has a great quote :

“ if you spend too much time learning the tricks of the trade you may not learn the trade”.

Coach Wooden was a brilliant man and the way he coached basketball was amazingly simple. In fact, he began every year with a detailed explanation of how to put on your socks to avoid blisters. This could be described as very “inside the box” thinking . In fact, some coaches might view something as mundane as this as a waste of time. Wooden viewed players missing practice from blisters caused by not putting socks on correctly ( no wrinkles inside the shoes) as the real waste of time and he was correct. Wooden drilled fundamentals. Very inside the box. To be honest, most of the best coaches I know talk about simplicity more than complexity.  Athletes Performance founder Mark Verstegen often uses the phrase “simple things done savagely well” in his talks while Dewey Neilsen of Impact Sports Performance implores us to be Brilliant at the Basics. There is a Buddhist  quote that says “in the beginners mind there are many choices, in the experts mind there are few”.  I think there is a reason why I so often agree with so many of the people I consider to be good coaches. Those who have attained the expert level seem to think very much alike and react in very similar ways to new information.  The experts are open to change and have great mental filters. As a result the best coaches seem to end up at the same places even when coming from different paths.

People might view me as an “out of the box thinker” but that may be based on thirty years in the box. The truth is I can’t tell you how often I give the same answer to a different question. People ask questions. I tell them to KISS it ( and I don’t mean my rear end). I tell them Keep It Simple Stupid. Stay in the box. Out of the box thinking should be reserved for those who know the inside of the box like the literal back of their hand.

Next time you hear someone described as an “out of the box thinker” ask yourself if the person being referred to is also the “master of the box”. The key for us as coaches is to become “masters of the box” well before we become “out of the box thinkers”.

17 Responses to “There Is a Reason There Is a Box”

  1. […] Så hur funkar det egentligen då? Att göra flera övningar på en och samma gång kommer förmodligen som jag skrev ovan att göra alla tre övningarna sämre. Det finns tillräckligt många “svåra” komplexa styrkeövningar som ger bra träningsresultat när man lär sig dem och som används inom idrotten i många år, det är bara dumt att försöka uppfinna hjulet på nytt. Och till de som gillar att tänka “utanför lådan”, visst, det kan vara kul, men när det gäller träning för prestation så finns “lådan” av en anledning. […]

  2. […] “There is a Reason There’s a Box” from Michael Boyle This entry was posted in Workout of the Day by Todd. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  3. […] Article: https://strengthcoachblog.com/2012/01/09/there-is-a-reason-there-is-a-box/comment-page-3/#comments Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in General and […]

  4. […] two articles  by one of the leaders in the field Mike Boyle about having a training toolbox and thinking outside the box I realized that marketing plays a big part in in choosing a trainer and “specializing” […]

  5. […] There Is a Reason There Is a Box by Mike Boyle […]

  6. […] There Is a Reason There Is a Box by Mike Boyle Athlete or not Mike talks about thinking uutside the box and inside the box in this blog post. He runs home a really great point in this post. Are you ready to think outside the box if you don’t know the inside of the box? The term “think outside the box” is thrown around all the time. Next time your told to think outside the box, make sure you know the inside before hand. […]

  7. Mike,
    I believe somewhere in a prior life you were a philosopher perhaps back with the Greeks. Great post and so true. People are always looking for tricks, magic and sleight of hand when mastery of the fundamentals is really the key to success in any endeavor.

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