I had the opportunity to attend the final Nike Sponsored Win Forever Workshop this weekend at the Seahawks' VMAC training facilities and headquarters. It was semi-hosted and partially-presented by Seahawks' Head Coach Pete Carroll and was meant to teach Pete's core philosophies for success. The target audience was coaches and corporate leaders.
I am, however, a rabid Seahawks fan and a guy that writes about Pete Carroll and his philosophies, so I figured I should get a first-person take on what those are. I came away with a pretty good impression of said philosophies but also left with a better understanding of why Pete does the things that Pete does. First and foremost was an explanation of Carroll's 'rah-rah' cheerleader style of coaching. Outwardly it would seem that Carroll is placing the onus of his effectiveness on the ability to motivate a player.
I think a lot of people were, and maybe still are skeptical that this type of coaching style can work in the NFL. People may say, "This isn't college, these aren't 18 and 19-year-old kids that need a guy to motivate them day in and day out." They may note, "These are professional athletes that by and large have made it to the NFL through an intrinsic desire to succeed. These are the alpha-dogs; they don't need some guy hooting and hollering in their ear to want to go out and play well."
Well, I agree with that sentiment but I think what Carroll is doing is entirely different from that. He's not trying to motivate his players to succeed, he's constantly instilling the energy needed to play at their highest level. There's a fine line between motivating and energizing and that distinction is something most people don't note when they see how Carroll coaches. This type of coaching can be effective at any level, and with any player, pure and simple.
It all starts with practice. What Pete is trying to do is create an atmosphere in practice that is as similar to game-day as is humanly possible. To do that, he explicitly instructs his coaching staff to get it pumped up, get into it, hoot and holler, wave their arms like a crazy and inject energy into every single practice snap. Why do they do this? To get their players amped up in practice, because you know they're going to be amped up in games. The Hawks play music over the loudspeakers, keep score, and treat everything like a competition in practice because they're conditioning their players to perform on Sundays the exact way they've performed at practice the prior Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Practicing at a high level gives his players the confidence and trust that they're good enough. Carroll believes that a player can only perform to the ability that they believe they can. He goes about instilling confidence and building his players up so they have the best mental state of mind by the time Sunday rolls around, regardless of how they played last week. Confidence is one intangible that Carroll takes seriously.
The key thing to note here is that Pete Carroll does NOT want players to give something extra or play up a notch on Sunday. He doesn't yell, jump around, hug players and sing to the sky on the sidelines to get them to take their play to the next level. On the contrary, he wants them to play within themselves without thinking. Play the way they've practiced - with energy and while having fun. Loose, energetic players are more likely to succeed and perform at their top level than their uptight, nervous or pressing counterparts.
Pete Carroll developed a philosophy of coaching a long time ago and has LIVED it since. He's no different on the practice field than he is in a coaching seminar. He was jacked up, pacing around, cracking jokes, doing all that with us just as I imagine he does with his players. There's a sign on the doorway leading from the locker room to the practice/game field and it says two words: "I'm In." This is the core contract that Carroll requires for his players and its something that he, and his coaching staff, constantly evaluate with a discriminating eye.
If there's a player that isn't buying in, competing their hardest, and giving great effort and energy to better themselves, it's not going to benefit the team. One of the more memorable lines of the evening was when Pete said, chuckling, something along the lines of, "If I see a player like that I'll chuck them a lifeline. If they need it, I'll throw em another lifeline. If they still don't get it, I just chuck 'em off the ship."
You saw this happen last season with several prominent players, and though I won't name names, it was widely speculated they were jettisoned for not 'buying in.' Carroll doesn't mess around when it comes to his philosophy of coaching. Anyway, I could talk for days about the things I picked up from this seminar. And I will. Later, at Field Gulls. So stay tuned for that.
The NFL Lockout Reaches Day 100.
We're 100 days in and still no sign of relent. This week was a funny week in that there was a constant ebb and flow of optimism one day tempered by pragmatism the next. On Tuesday, reports surfaced that after a week or so of the players and owners meeting in secret, they were now bringing the lawyers into the fold so the new settlement could be signed and completed. By most accounts the lockout would be kaput by the 4th of July weekend and we could all start making proper arrangements to celebrate this by buying fireworks and copious amounts of alcohol. (Most people will still do this regardless because it's our nation's birthday and we need to celebrate that by blowing stuff up whilst drunk and wearing American Flag Hammer Pants.)
On Wednesday, the lawyers came back to the nice, calm party the owners and players were having and something very similar to this below happened. (And yes, I mean to say the Lawyers came in and their first move was a head-high Michael Jackson style leg-kick)
After the dust settled, allegedly, both sides' posse of lawyers were fighting and bickering and now clouded the chances of successful reconciliation.
On Friday, it was reported that there was only a small group of owners that were holding up the show and these curmudgeonly old men were hunkering down for the long haul. On Saturday, the point of view came out that this rift in ownership solidarity was nothing new and was so small that we needn't worry.
Finally, yesterday, I noted the idea that the government could now get involved and pressure the NFL to get something done on pain of losing their government-granted anti-trust exemption, also known as SH*TLOADS OF MONEY.
What will happen today my friends?
You can find a whole lot more on the Seahawks, including the latest news and rumors, over at Field Gulls.