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Why saying, "I've told him 500 times" is Not an Acceptable Response

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

The #1 goal of any coach is to get his or her message across. I saw this ad the other day, and it reminded me how important it is to say the same thing in different ways so that it 'hits home'.

Over twenty years ago, I heard Houston Nutt tell this story of when he was an assistant football coach at the University of Arkansas; the offensive staff watched film of practice, and a player did not perform a basic technique properly. Lou Holtz, the head coach at the time, asked the position coach, "why can't you get 'John' to this correctly?"

The position coach responded with, "coach, I have told John 500 times how to do it right."

Coach Holtz stopped the 35mm projector, and the room went completely dark.

After about 30 seconds of an extremely tense pause, Coach Holtz said this to his assistant coach, "It seems like you have two choices to me; continue saying it 500 more times or find another way to get it across."

Exactly. Coaching is getting your message across. What you see on film is how effective you are as a coach at this. Elite coaches will use different ways to get their message across. For example: in basketball, telling a player to 'cut the baseline' may not be enough. My late father, Raymond, said to me once he used to have to say "put your toes on the out-of-bounds paint" to players who were not doing a consistent job of cutting off the baseline.

We have all heard of washing our hands at least 5000 times since March. This ad gets the message across to me better than any other I have seen or heard. When you can get back to coaching, make sure your message is understood. You can't succeed as a coach, manager, or leader if you can't speak their language.

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