It’s Not the Program, It’s the Coaching

I wrote this for my site but, wanted to share it with a wider audience.

Sam Dadd, one of my senior coaches at MBSC thought the concept mentioned in the title would make a great article. The discussion began, as many do, with a question in a staff meeting. Why does an assistant go to a new program, institute the same program used in his old job, yet fail to get similar results? Or, why when a head strength coach moves on and the assistant takes over are the results not the same? The obvious answer would be talent however I think that is an oversimplification.

My response to the question was simple and to the point. It’s not the program, it’s the coach.  In the football world legendary coach Bum Phillips described another legend, Paul Bear Bryant’s coaching this way . “He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.” In other words if you and Bryant switched rosters, in a year he’d beat you with your own team.

A good coach with a mediocre program is much better than a great program and a mediocre coach. A program is a piece of paper or a file in a computer. Programs cannot motivate or create accountability. A piece of paper can’t figure out what is inside a person and how to get that out. A great coach can do all those things. A great coach will teach, motivate, and create an accountability system. He will figure out what makes each guy tick and then use that knowledge to get results. I have said for years that all of our programs are the same. Our base philosophy never changes. Want to get fast, run sprints. Want to get strong, lift weights. The difference is in the selling. The difference is in knowing what makes each athlete tick.

Another legendary coach, the late quarterback guru Tom Martinez, described it this way in the book Outliers. “Every kids life is a mix of shit and ice cream. If the kid has had too much shit I mix in some ice cream. If he has had too much ice cream I mix in some shit”. Martinez knew that there was a different key to every lock. To paraphrase Dan John, the key is to find the key.

Bottom line, there is a reason that strength and conditioning coaches Mike Woicek, Al Miller, Rusty Jones and Johnny Parker had a team in almost every Superbowl for about a 15 year period. They were great coaches who got the best out of their players.( Importance of the Strength and Conditioning Coach )

There is a reason a coach like Phil Jackson succeeded in circumstances as different as Chicago and LA  . Coaching matters. Coaches change lives, programs don’t change lives. The people will always matter more than the paper.


2 Responses to “It’s Not the Program, It’s the Coaching”

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  2. Kevin Green Says:


    Great article. Yet another reason I am excited to be interning with you and your staff of coaches this summer. I want to understand the programming but more importantly I want to learn how to coach.


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