Last Sunday Ed Reed formerly of the Baltimore Ravens entered the NFL Hall of Fame for his play on the field, but his recent words about coaching are of Hall of Fame material.
“I was listening to coaches calling players, ‘Dumb this,’ and [expletives], but you’re not coaching them,” he said, via the Buffalo News. “You’re yelling at them, but you’re not coaching them. You’re mad at them, but you’re not coaching them the proper way. Just ‘paper coaching’ is not the proper way to do it.” Paper coaching refers to scheme coaching, not fundamental teaching. Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame head football coach would often ask his assistants, are you a schemer, or teacher?
“You had people that were just hard-headed, man,” Reed said. “Honestly. Just grown men like hard-headed, like don’t want to work with you. I know I have the abilities to be a head coach or D-coordinator. It’s something I wouldn’t mind doing. But it’s tough being a player and going back and doing something like that because egos get in the way.” In one brief coaching stint, Reed quickly understood the reasons most teams struggle.
Ego is the killer of all professions. Bill Walsh would often tell scouts to ignore coaches evaluations from schools that had losing records because the coaches would blame the players, which is all ego-driven. Essentially coaches believe, “I’m not the reason we lost; we had too many bad players is a constant refrain.” Reed is saying the same thing. When we as leaders/coaches become the reason for winning and not the reason for losing, then something is deadly wrong. Walsh wanted to hear about what players could do, not what they couldn’t from scouts.
Late Raiders owner Al Davis wanted his coaches to believe they were exactly like a high school coach-- not because he was demeaning their value, instead he wanted them to keep working with developing the player, not judging the talent. High school coaches coach whoever is on the team. There is no waiver wire, no tryouts, no new players. Just coach who you have—that is the mentality Davis wanted his coaches to possess. Davis wanted teachers, not schemers.
The greatest gift ever for any coach is the tape of his coaching. That tape does not lie, and when you make your players better- through your intelligence, coaching, and demanding nature, your value in the profession rises. Same for an executive in any company. The key is making those around you better, improving their game. Develop more talent, and before long, your team or organization will flow with the expertise on and off the field.
Making more out of less is a quality everyone wants.
Don’t take our advice, take Reed’s—NO PAPER COACHING.
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