Lessons From Coaches

Todd’s high school soccer coach prioritized accountability and execution. He had teams play really well for him because players were afraid of not playing well for him. One time, the coach punished someone for making a mistake by making him run until the coach said stop and when he did say stop, the player was to say “No, coach. I don’t think I’ve run enough” and keep running. He expected certain things from his players when given roles and they were to perform them because they were scared not to. 

The major lesson is to be accountable. Know the things you are responsible for. Make sure you do your job. If possible, you can also do half a job with someone else and contribute more. You want to be unimpeachable in your job. You have a solid foundation of success if you do this. This is one of the biggest things lacking in organizations. People tend to respect accountable people, but attractive women can get away with being unaccountable. 

The second coach had teams in the past that were nationally ranked. He had a vision of how the team was to play. He mostly did not care about how good the players were. He asked the players to play the way top players would. While there were several problems and mistakes, it created aspiration for the players to live up to that ability. This increased the team’s peak performance and maximum possible output. 

The first coach was getting the most out of the players while the second coach was increasing the maximum the players could get. The right way to approach it is both. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your credibility and perform well. On the other hand, it’s OK if you want to strive and make mistakes. It was okay to make mistakes under the second coach as long as it was on the right path for the right reason. 

The most important goal is not winning. The goal is growing because you are going to eventually win if you keep growing. Focusing on winning, accountability, and execution gets you to win. Focusing on growing can lead to greatness. 

This actually comes from Todd’s father. He was Todd’s first coach. This is more for getting the most out of other people and an organization. This also pertains to getting the most out of yourself. He had state championship teams despite not being well-versed in soccer because of his coaching methodologies. 

One thing he did was set up competitive games. The players were coached through competition. The games were balanced due to people’s abilities being enhanced or restricted. In chess, Todd started out playing against his dad’s king and pawns only so there was a chance of winning. As Todd got better, pieces were added one by one until the board was full. 

In soccer, Todd had to train with varying levels of teams. He struggled when playing teams that were older than him. He was almost like an assistant coach when the team was younger than him. In situations like these, Todd’s father would give him restrictions such as playing with the left foot only. This makes it a fair competition so everybody feels motivated and challenged. It also provides a nice balance of growth and competition.

You want to set up your training and challenges to have the competitive fire and the will to win. At the same time, you also want to focus on growth. If you focus on only winning, you will sometimes stagnate. This will make you afraid to take risks. 

This is Todd’s coaching lesson for himself. He has self-taught himself in a lot of areas. 

The number one key is to find an edge. You never want to be in a situation where you’re competing on who works the hardest. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are doing the same exact thing as everybody else. You want to find an edge because there is a limit to how hard you work and how much natural talent you have. This is why Todd is meticulous about finding mentors and good resources. 

A personal edge Todd found is called ANKI. It is a flashcard program that gives you the things you’re trying to learn or memorize at spaced intervals. Any correct items would show up again in a longer interval than if you got the item incorrect. This helps you study at your optimal memory capacity so that you are evenly studying all materials. Todd was able to pass his Masters in a week and a half using ANKI when it usually takes 6 months to a year. He went through many test questions and would only use study books if he did not understand the answer. This helped Todd cut through tons of fluff and focus on what they wanted him to learn on the test. 

Always be seeking to have an advantage. You should then apply this edge. Just finding them in the world is not enough. The best coach Todd ever had was his college soccer coach with national championships under his name. His phrase was “It should be demanded, not commanded.” There are always players who show up to practice early and stayed later to put in the extra effort. The coach somehow got his entire team to become this. 

What he did was create a culture of excellence. He created a culture where it was considered cool to do extra work and frowned upon if you didn’t. The coach treated being on the team as special and treated college athletes as professional athletes. This became an identity and a reason why everyone on the team stepped up. He found a way to get the most out of the players in an intrinsic way through the extrinsic of wanting to be part of this team. 

If you are in a leadership or management situation, it’s great to create a culture where it is demanded that you work hard to stay for this team because everyone else is doing it. It should not be commanded. No one should have to force someone to put in extra work. It should be presented as an opportunity to excel. Todd found this mentality beautiful and helped get the best results he has seen from teams in his life.