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Issue 432 - "Improving Decision Making" (Anson Dorrance Part One)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 10 Issue 432
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Anson Dorrance is the Woman's Soccer Coach at the University of North Carolina. In 42 years, his teams have won 22 National Championships. Championship coaches study championship coaches from all sports. Many coaches have studied Anson Dorrance and he has studied many of them.
For the great championship coaches, collaboration doesn't end with studying other coaches. They find a way in one form or another to create a collaborative environment with the people they supervise. John Wooden's players drafted their own training rules and provided valuable suggestions regarding strategy. Red Auerbach in leading his Boston Celtics to 9 NBA Championships utilized his players in all practices to design and alter their offensive plays.
Coach Dorrance's goal is for every player on his team to get better every practice. One of the specific areas that is focused on every day is decision making. Coach Dorrance uses collaboration to make this happen. In his fantastic book Training Soccer Champions, with Tim Nash he explains how he does it:
"In teaching tactical decision-making, I believe in making sure every player understands the reasons for choosing every tactical option. I also believe it's important to appreciate that it's a choice because there are always alternatives.
I encourage players that disagree with anything we are doing to come forward and recommend an alternative, because I want every player sold on our system. Their belief in the system will make it work even more. If they have a better idea, they are encouraged to make their case to me.
If it has merit, we go with it. We teach decision-making based on tactical clues. We have recommendations for the players based on our experience. But if the players are picking up the tactical clues of a situation, they have the freedom to improvise within the system and go outside of the recommended choice. We explore the depths of their knowledge and understanding with the Socratic method of teaching (Developed by Socrates over 2400 years ago, the strategy uses thought-provoking question and answer sessions to promote learning)., and we often preface the question with "Future coaches of America ... " This plants the seed that they are developing an understanding of the game so that they, too, can eventually coach it."
If you run a business like this your team members will be energized and engaged, and your processes will improve. Just encouraging feedback is not enough. Many people are intimidated. You should have a defined consistent process that demands feedback and follow up with folks who are not giving you input and find out why.
Do you just tell people what to do or are you explaining why? Are they giving you ideas? Is everybody improving every day?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




Life is a challenge to the bold,
It flings its gauntlet down
And bids us, if we seek for gold
And glory and renown,
To come and take them from its store,
It will not meekly hand them o'er.

Life is a challenge all must meet,
And nobly must we dare;
Its gold is tawdry when we cheat,
Its fame a bitter snare
If it be stolen from life's clutch;
Men must be true to prosper much.

Life is a challenge and its laws
Are rigid ones and stern;
The splendid joy of real applause
Each man must nobly earn.
It makes us win its jewels rare,
But gives us paste, if we're unfair.

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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