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Issue 433 - "The Edge" (Anson Dorrance Part Two)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 10 Issue 433
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. One of the similarities between Coach Dorrance and Coach Wooden is that they both pushed their players to constantly improve irrespective of their current performance level or comfort zone. Coach Wooden felt if his team was not making mistakes of commission in practice they weren't playing fast enough.
Coach Dorrance describes this relentless approach as playing on the edge. In his fantastic book Training Soccer Champions, with Tim Nash, he expands on the topic:
"Next to creating a high level of intensity in practice, the greatest challenge is to have high standards and to have a consistently ascending level of expectation. No one is ever good enough. Everyone can always improve, and practice sessions should be a stretch of each player's limits.
It is critical to establish standards, and they are set by highlighting the extraordinary moments in practice, if these moments ever occur. However, we must wait for those moments to occur before we heap praise on the players, or we will be settling for too low a standard. Never endorse what is below standard and your praise will have meaning. Never set a standard that can easily be achieved, and your expectations will create an environment where your athletes are on the edge of their game. It is time spent on this edge that improves your players. The truly great practices occur when we can keep them on this edge the longest.
Your strength in coaching is having the courage to constantly deal with the athletes that unconsciously try to take things a bit easier. When I was a young coach, I used to feel that my practices were a great success when I could get through a session and things went smoothly. So, invariably, I would pick training topics that were fun and easy to organize or coach, if you can call it that. And they were always successful. Of course, if there was always success, I was only training the players in areas in 'which they were already competent. And if the sessions were easy to coach, I was doing little to drive the players to their next level."
The business application is to develop a great product or process and ask immediately: "How can we make it better?" The key is to get the team on board with the idea that: constant improvement is the goal we are trying to achieve together so they don't feel like victims because: "Nothing in your eyes is ever good enough." Coach Wooden liked to say: "Good; now do it again faster." That's the edge.
How do you coach?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise



The Price of Joy

You don't begrudge the labor when the roses start to bloom;
You don't recall the dreary days that won you their perfume;
You don't recall a single care
You spent upon the garden there;
And all the toil
Of tilling soil
Is quite forgot the day the first
Pink rosebuds into beauty burst.

You don't begrudge the trials grim when joy has come to you;
You don't recall the dreary days when all your skies are blue;
And though you've trod a weary mile
The ache of it was all worthwhile;
And all the stings
And bitter flings
Are wiped away upon the day
Success comes dancing down the way.

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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