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Analyzing common business and sports cliches

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Drinking the Kool-Aid isn’t a good thing, but not all cliches are bad.

SiriusXM’s “Busted Open” Celebrates 10th Anniversary In New York City On The Eve Of WrestleMania 35 Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for SiriusXM

I don’t know about you but I love a good cliche. My class that I created from scratch and teach four times in two days was built upon psychology and business cliches, such as: “Clarity. Confidence. Conviction.”; “The path itself is the goal;” and quotes from Gandhi, Viktor Frankl and Aldous Huxley.

The cliches we’ll cover today are from business, psychology and sports.


Work smart, not (stupid)- Sun Tzu

I put the screenshot above, of Paulie Walnuts, on a professional development presentation I was giving on a healthy work-life balance. There is overkill in the amount of emails you can send, the amount of sprints you can run, and the amount of times you can throw a football until you hit that wall of diminishing returns (below).

We’ve been told all of our lives that we nee to ‘work harder’ but in reality, we need to work smarter. I know that’s a cliche (hence why it’s in the post) but people still don’t understand that a three hour practice or a bunch of 300’s aren’t going to make you better at sports. They’re just going to beat the athletes down heading into the most important part of the week, the damn game.

We need to cut the crap that doesn’t matter (Essentialism, below) and put our focus in the areas that make us a better spouse, parent, colleague, coach or athlete. You only have 100 tokens per practice or training session that you can use. You have to figure out what matters the most in your sport and maximize those qualities by putting your training in those bins.

If it’s speed and power then stop training strength and aerobic conditioning. You can’t get faster and ‘conditioned’ at the same time, much like you can’t get stronger and create more bar speed at the same time. Our bodies get confused if we’re training one rep maxes on Monday and 30% peak velocity on Friday. That’s what training blocks are for.

Not every strength and conditioning staff has the resources of Alabama, but the Crimson Tide are doing by far the best work in the field of sport science for football players. Remember all that bragging about Miami players doing sandpit runs? Total waste of time. Don Chaney Jr’s 550# squat? The last 100 or more pounds of that is a total waste of time. Also- if he’s using a barbell that could make sense why his shoulder is injured.

That leads us to our next topic...


We need to get stronger / tougher

There are far too many people in football who say “we’re not strong enough,” no you’re not powerful enough. Absolute strength matters to a point, then it’s about converting that strength into power and velocity in order to play a sport that’s about getting to a spot faster than your opponent, and then using power to drive him one direction or another (RB vs LB, OL vs DL, etc.).

Football players aren’t powerlifters, nor are they body builders. The chiseled dude with the 12 pack abs isn’t automatically the best football player, and the Vince Wilfork looking guy isn’t automatically the best or worst, either. Football is football and while it’s groomed in the weight room it shines on its own.

If you think your favorite 18- 24 year old college football player is “soft” or lacks “physical toughness” well I would love to see you practice in 90 degree heat while another human pounds the death out of you. What they lack is the confidence in their training. We don’t rise to the occasion we fall back on our training.

This week I was sent a clip of the high school Oklahoma Drill above. It is atrocious. You wonder why Amari Carter tackles so poorly? He’s falling back on his training. You’re going to see a very Miami-esque tackle here with his head down and butt up to the sky. Also his head across, instead of behind the ball carrier.

Bad youth coaching leads into bad high school coaching which leads into not enough time to correct the bad habits and thus create good habits in a ‘win now’ world. There is a reason programs are relying on Texas, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama talent more than ever right now- because it’s well groomed. Sprinkle in a few South Florida studs (especially at the private schools / IMG, ONLY THREE FLORIDA PUBLIC SCHOOL PLAYERS IN 247’s Top-100?!) and you’ve got yourself a stew goin’.


Best ability is reliability- Jim Ross

I teach a saying that goes a lil somethin’ like this, “Bring all of your talents to the table every day.” The message is that if I only have 5 talents, and you have 12, but I bring all 5 ever day and you bounce between 2, 6, 1, 8, 0, 3 I’m consistent and you aren’t. You can guarantee my effort level and focus every day. Consistency in play is a good thing. I think of Zion Nelson, consistently good; vs. Cam Harris, who flashes his talents on a 50 yard run and then grinds out one yard carries a handful of times before the next big play.

Miami v Pittsburgh Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Another cliche is “good is the enemy of great.” While it’s okay to be consistent, that consistency has to include a consistent approach to adaptation and growth. Some of that is on the student-athlete as you can’t teach intrinsic motivation. Some of adapting and growth is on the coaching staff, and some on the developmental staff (diet, nutrition, S&C).

Your mentors must provide the proper tools and facilitate growth both technically and tactically. Do your mentors even believe in a growth mindset? Do they adapt their coaching year-to-year? Have they coached the same season 20 times? Or a slightly better season over 20 years?

Back to the original cliche, the best ability is reliability and that’s what saw Brevin Jordan’s draft stock slide and also defines the positive qualities of Mike Harley versus the oft-injured and iffy hands of a Will Mallory. Harley brought his talents in 2020, Mallory brought them here, missed time there, had a big play over there, then missed a block.


Run track, it’ll make you a better football player

Ooooooooh baby baby this is a prickly one. Because I believe there are very few football coaches who understand movement efficiency and how to develop speed, I would say yes high school athlete, go run track! BUT, I also see track programs grind guys to dust and wonder... should there just be a better way?

Track speed vs football speed

Track speed and football speed are completely different things. Track uses blocks, longer acceleration periods, and it’s like NASCAR- there are only left turns. There are no visual-cognitive-motor needs because you’re racing against the track and aren’t being stopped by moving obstacles (hurdles don’t move, bro).

A wide receiver who needs to make 1-2 moves before running a fade is much different than a track sprinter coming out of the blocks. Blocks are hard to learn how to use, just like being able to sprint in 10 pounds of gear is different than sprinting in track spandex.

Technical and tactical

American football, soccer, rugby, baseball, basketball, etc all require the pyramid above to be developed. Establish base health and wellness. Create a physical and mental program for the athletes.

The S&C coach (development) will work a little on technical and tactical work but that’s where the sport coaches step in. Track doesn’t have technical and tactical aspects that will crossover to football. Hurdles, discus, 400m have no causation to becoming a better football player, being a better football player does.


Nothing is real but the money and the miles- Rasslers

Chick-fil-A Bowl - Duke v Texas A&M

Don’t expect players or coaches to be ‘loyal to a brand’ in 2021 and beyond. The world has changed. Coaches move around too often, players need to go where their talents will be displayed. The ‘transfer portal,’ which I like and think the new transfer rules are appropriate, has changed college football.

People leave jobs (schools) for two reasons: Cash and Creative- Jim Ross. With the NIL being passed and NCAA athletes being allowed to make dough off of their name and likeness the athletes need to position themselves in a market that will worship them and give money for services. If you’re not making money, go elsewhere- that’s cash. If you’re not starting, go elsewhere- that’s creative.

Just like coaches leave for raises (cash) or to become a co-defensive coordinator twice removed (creative). It’s all done in a move to position your career to be a million dollar coordinator or a multi-million dollar head coach. Because in the end, nothing is real in rasslin or football but the money and the miles.