by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies
Recently I was asked by a few coaches to give them my top 10 coaching management books. Number one on my list was a book called “Winning” by Clive Woodward.
I had the privilege to be a part of an amazing lecture about team management around 10 years ago. In this lecture, the speaker told us about the book Winning! The book is about the process coach Clive Woodward went through in turning a struggling England National Rugby team into an International Rugby powerhouse.
In an effort to take his team from good to great, Woodward set out to create a unique and incredibly special experience for the players coming into his program. His ultimate aim was to make the environment so good that once the players had experienced it, they never wanted to be left out of it.
Woodward created this experience and environment by focusing on the little things he called Critical Non-Essentials (CNE’s). CNE’s are all of the little things or details that make your program what it is. Not just any kind of detail, but the development of things that would and could set your program apart from everybody else.
These CNE’s that he focused on included: the locker room (seating, equipment, lockers, extras, decorations, laundry); dress code (home games, away games); sports information (web, game, media guides, TV, radio, other); practice (before, warm-up, training, cool-down); equipment (practice gear, game gear, logo’s, colors, misc); game day environment; medical/rehab/recovery; nutrition; fitness/strength and conditioning.
So, how does this apply to recruiting?
What do you do to set yourself apart in the eyes of your recruits if your main competitors have the same quality of players, the same resources, and the same standard of coaching? To be even better and set yourself apart from your rivals you have to do everything in your power to improve the Critical Non-Essentials of your program.
In my usual weekly readings, I learned that Pete Carroll, when he was the coach of the USC football program, sat down with his staff and captains at the end of every season and analyzed EVERY aspect of the program, from their practice tee-shirts to their game day routines. They would sit down and he would ask “How can we make this better?” He did all of this in an effort to create the most productive and special experience for his players. His players knew that Coach Carroll was willing to go the extra mile for them and it not only showed in how hard they played for him, but in the quality of recruits he kept signing year after year.
With all of the other things that need to get done in a day, I find with most coaches these little details are what get put on the back burner and never fixed. The time spent doing this will not only create a more loyal team, it can and will be something you can use as a selling point that will separate you from the rest of the pack.
Here is what I recommend: buy the book if you have a chance because there are a lot of really great ideas about team management in there. Just a warning, it is a pretty long book and is mostly about Rugby (a sport I don’t think I will ever understand). It will be well worth your time to read through it though.
Next, take the time to examine every aspect of the players’ experience within your program (critical non essentials) and discuss it thoroughly with your team. Don’t just do this exercise with your coaching staff!
This is a great exercise to get your team involved with. Empower your team to give you feedback on how they would like things to be. You have the ultimate veto power, but let them come up with ideas on what could make each aspect of what they experience within the program everyday a little better.
If you want more from the players, you first have to give them good reasons why they would want to put in the extra effort. You do that by making the critical non essentials better. If you make your program attractive, prestigious and exclusive enough, not only will the players give everything they have within them and more, it could be something that sets your program apart from the rest in the eyes of your recruits.
The soccer team I was coaching before I read the book was 9-6-3 that fall season. I was then introduced to Clive Woodward’s ways that next winter. I applied every piece of information I read in that book in the off-season with the team and went from 9-6-3 to 17-3-1 the next season. It took A LOT of time and effort to implement these ideas, but the results we got were amazing. Not only was the team excited and committed to the direction the program was headed, and with the experience they were having, the recruits we brought in during that time were pretty impressed as well. I signed my top 6 recruits that fall!
Take the time to do this coach with your staff and team. It will take some work and patience, but you will reap the benefits from this simple exercise for years to come.
Mandy Green has been a College Soccer Coach for more than 17 years and is the founder of Coaching Productivity Strategies, where she helps coaches develop and discipline their time management. Mandy teaches practical and immediately usable ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques that will help you achieve more, work less, and win more daily work and recruiting battles. When you learn and apply these powerful, practical techniques, you will dramatically improve the quality of your life in every area. To get more awesome collegiate-specific productivity expertise, go to www.mandygreencps.com and opt-in!