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Issue 337 - Consistent Results Require Consistent Communication - (Tom Osborne Part Two)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 8 Issue 337
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login

 

CONSISTENT RESULTS REQUIRE CONSISTENT COMMUNICATION - (TOM OSBORNE, PART TWO)

 
 
Tom Osborne's consistently excellent results as the football coach at the University of Nebraska (83% winning percentage over twenty five years) led him to be recognized as one of the greatest college football coaches in history.
 
A key element in Osborne's consistent results was his consistent communication. Osborne described his approach in Mike Harrity's book Coaching Wisdom:
 
"I think we tried to make sure all of our players understood that there was no particular pecking order in our concern for them. We tried to make sure that they understood that each player was as important as the other. Now, some were more important to us winning a game on a Saturday afternoon, but in terms of their academics, their family, their overall well-being, we wanted to make sure that they felt valued and understood that we cared about them."
 
Osborne was systematic in making sure communication occurred with all team members consistently. He did not rely on his players to come to him. In Coaching Wisdom he described his three part communication system:
 
1. "First of all, I would meet formally with every player in the spring. I didn't just talk about football. I talked about their academics, I talked about anything that might be going on with their family, and I certainly talked about what I was seeing on the football field.
 
2. Maybe more important, every day after practice, players would go into the weight room. I would usually go in there most days and do a little lifting myself. Being there with them on their turf — they weren't being called into my office — meant that I was able to have an average of three, four, or five conversations every night with various players. These informal conversations were about the math class they were having trouble with or if their dad was sick or if their high school team won a big game. I think in the process of a season we would probably have some interaction with most every player at least three, four, five, or six times. It was a conversation that wasn't directly related to their performance on the football field, so I think that was an important time.
 
3. We also established a unity council. The players elected representatives from each position on the team. That gave the players a voice, and these members of the council would bring things up to me that I probably would never otherwise hear about. They met every week, so I would respond in a team meeting. Most things could be addressed quickly. I think sometimes we were able to put out a lot of minor brush fires that way and have the pulse or the mood of your team translated to us a little bit better. It was at least a way of communication that I thought was helpful."
 
Coach Osborne had consistent communication because he did not rely on just an "open door policy" or a "suggestion box". He systematically and aggressively made sure he was communicating with his players about more than just football.
 
What is your "Communication System"?
 
 
 

Yours in Coaching,
 
 
Craig Impelman
 
 
 
 


 

 

 

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Application Exercise

COACH'S FAVORITE POETRY AND PROSE

 

The Proof Of Worth

Though victory's proof of the skill you possess,
Defeat is the proof of your grit;
A weakling can smile in his days of success,
But at trouble's first sign he will quit.
So the test of the heart and the test of your pluck
Isn't skies that are sunny and fair,
But how do you stand to the blow that is struck
And how do you battle despair?

A fool can seem wise when the pathway is clear
And it's easy to see the way out,
But the test of man's judgment is something to fear,
And what does he do when in doubt?
And the proof of his faith is the courage he shows
When sorrows lie deep in his breast;
It's the way that he suffers the griefs that he knows
That brings out his worst or his best.

The test of a man is how much he will bear
For a cause which he knows to be right,
How long will he stand in the depths of despair,
How much will he suffer and fight?
There are many to serve when the victory's near
And few are the hurts to be borne,
But it calls for a leader of courage to cheer
The men in a battle forlorn.

It's the way you hold out against odds that are great
That proves what your courage is worth,
It's the way that you stand to the bruises of fate
That shows up your stature and girth.
And victory's nothing but proof of your skill,
Veneered with a glory that's thin,
Unless it is proof of unfaltering will,
And unless you have suffered to win.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

 

 

 

 

 

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