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Issue 325 - Dependability Is More Important Than Ability (Bill Belichick)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 8 Issue 325
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Bill Belichick in his eighteen years as coach of the New England Patriots, has won 15 AFC Eastern Conference Championships (including the last nine in row), appeared in 8 Super Bowls (most of any coach) and won 5 of them (most of any coach).
Here are the key factors that have led to his success.
  1. Knowledge. Belichick has an extensive knowledge of football history and strategy. He began studying football and breaking down film at the age of 10 with his father Steve. Steve Belichick was an assistant coach at the Naval Academy for over thirty years and is widely regarded as the greatest scout in the history of college football. His collection of four hundred and thirteen books on football are now housed at the Naval Academy and served as the foundation of Bill Belichick’s football knowledge.

    Belichick continued to study football and break down film through high school and college and followed that up with 38 years of NFL coaching experience (21 as an assistant) with seven different teams.  He had a variety of great mentors before becoming the Head Coach in New England in 2000. His love of his favorite subject and self-discipline led to his legendary work ethic (always the first to arrive and last to leave). That,  combined with his thirst for more knowledge, led him to become the Bill Gates of football.

  2. Humility. Belichick has never approached coaching as a means of making a name for himself, he is not pompous or self-serving. His only real interest has always been in doing what is best for the team. He is eager to admit when he makes a mistake and keeps an open mind. He is relentless in holding himself and everybody else in the organization accountable to these values.

  3. Adaptability. Belichick’s system is built on the foundation of good, consistent fundamentals. With this foundation in place, he is constantly innovating and adapting to improve. In 2010 the Patriots averaged 62.6 plays per game (this ranked 21st in the league). Belichick decided this was too slow and changed his entire approach.

    In 2012 the Patriots led the league in the number of plays per game with a staggering 74.3 plays per game.

    After winning his fourth Super Bowl in 2014, he completely retooled his championship defense. They won their fifth Super Bowl in 2016.

  4. Self-Control. Belichick says the goal is to: "improve on a daily basis, work hard, pay attention to the little details and put the team first." He does not set external goals, such as winning championships or achieving a certain win total. Belichick declines to talk about anything that took place in the past and places the entire organization’s focus on the next game. He doesn’t try to correct the record, or attempt to justify his past actions. He simply moves on to the next issue and focuses on achieving his next goal.
What are the key factors your approach is built on?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




Watch Video

Application Exercise



Ulysses (an excerpt)

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)






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