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COACHING 101 - If you don't see it, you can't coach it. If you aren't coaching it then you are wrong.

Most coaches are not trained to observe intentionally. When players are in your presence (not just when they are training or competing in a competition, it is a constant time to see, evaluate and give feedback. I have had coaches say to me, "I didn't notice John needed to shave" or "I just don't see them walking to the drills because I am looking at my practice schedule."


Pete Carroll talks about one of the lessons he learned from Bud Grant was to 'always be watching.' In Carroll's book, Win Forever (greatness), he recalls how Coach Grant influenced him to use his peripheral vision, so to speak, and broaden his vision so he could observe his players at every opportunity. 'He taught me that if you learn to become a good watcher and listener, you'll be rewarded with a wealth of information that you can use to compete more successfully. I learned from him that the best teachers, coaches, and leaders are often the best observers. Watching and particular, listening, intently is critical.' 'I remember one occasion when I was the defensive backs coach at the Vikings, and Bud was head coach. It was the first day of fall camp, and Bud had sent the players out on a long-distance run circling the field. For most coaches – including me at the time – that would have been a chance for some downtime, and that's how we were treating it. I recall standing on the edge of the field jabbering with one of my fellow coaches when I saw Coach Grant glaring at me. "Pete! What the hell is the matter with you?" he snapped. "You're not watching!" Coach Carroll says how Coach Grant used the simple exercise as an open book; who was out in front, who stayed in the cluster, who slowed down or sped up relative to their positions and the rest of the group. Coach Grant didn't have them running to get them in shape as much as put them a situation where he could OBSERVE their competitive natures. Tim and Brian Kight, on their Focus 3 podcast, say, 'great coaches are master observers. They see more than other coaches. Not only do they observe scheme and technique, they see everything.' To see everything, you must place yourself in the correct area of the field. You can't stand in the middle of a drill and see every athlete working. This seems to be the default location for most coaches when running a drill.


Stand at a 45-degree angle off to one side so you can observe each repetition. For example, when four athletes perform the power clean, all four deserve for their lift to be witnessed and get either a correction or an 'atta boy'. When things get hard, they know if you are not watching them. The 'I just want to get by' athletes will skip a rep when they realize no one is watching. Early in my career, I remember riding back on 'yellow dog' buses after football games and track meets. Some coaches could never hear foul language in the back of the bus. Some would put their head down and be asleep or pretend to be asleep, so they didn't have to deal with anything. Everything matters! Every player on every bus knows which coach will let things slide and which won't.

Don't be that coach who doesn't see much.

Observing is intentionality. If it is important to you, be intentional and look for it. In fact, COACH IT.

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