A few weeks ago, I sat down with Ahead of the Curve podcast creator (and Monday Morning Edge reader) Jonathan Gelnar for a new episode of the podcast. It went live last week.
It was an awesome time. Jonathan brought great questions and we spent an hour talking about a few of my favorite topics: power laws, systems, and communication.
Since it came out, we’ve gotten some generous feedback from listeners like Zach Castro who shared his notes from the episode on Twitter.
Thought of the week: What makes a coach productive?
Before Spring Training 2020 got shut down, I was with a co-worker at the facility when we started chatting about new coaches that had gotten hired into professional baseball over the off-season.
I commented that I didn’t really understand why everyone seemed to add some deviation of being “excited to learn” in their announcement post on their social media channel of choice. What my co-worker said has stuck with me ever since:
“Yeah. It’s like, I didn’t hire you to come and learn. I hired you to be productive right away.”-My anonymous co-worker
That comment opened up a brand new perspective to me. Before then, it had never clicked for me that coaches should be held accountable to produce something of value. The essence of productivity isn’t checking off the boxes on your to-do list; it’s doing things that matter. I knew this in the abstract, but it remained there.
So, if coaches are supposed to produce something of value (be productive), it’s important to figure out what that something is…
We’ve been led to believe that a coach’s job is to produce better players and teams. This is obviously true, but I don’t think it gets at the core of what modern coaches do. We’ll get to that soon.
Earlier this week, I ran across this tweet from Patrick McKenzie:
Elon Musk has a similar point of view on what his car company produces. He often talks about “the machine that builds the machine”. Or as he put it in a tweet, the factory as the product.
With these two things in mind, I asked myself,
“What do coaches produce?”
And I think the best answer for modern coaches is:
Systems that build better players and teams.
When I talk about coaching systems, you might think about Phil Jackson’s Triangle, Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense, or Jürgen Klopp’s Gegenpress. But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about…
When I talk about systems, I want you to think about a process-driven machine that produces a consistent result.
This can be a “system” of play, but when it comes to producing a result, you want to systematize your knowledge so that you can solve increasingly more challenging problems year-over-year rather than having to re-invent the wheel every season.
When you have systems, you can package up what you know and replicate it time and time again to get the ultimate downstream result: better players and teams.
And this is how you create leverage — something you must understand if you want to coach in the 21st century.
So what does this look like in practice? I’ve jotted down 3 ideas in my notes, but one thing you can do is create a standard development plan for your athletes.
- If you’re a high school or college coach, what standard development needs does the common athlete have in years 1-4 in your program?
- If you’re in private development, you want to have a general outline of what a development plan will look like for that kind of athlete at that time in their career.
No matter what level you coach, you want to have a general training system that gets consistent results year after year. Obviously, you will need to iterate along the way, but you need to focus on improving the over-arching system — this is what it looks like to build the machine that creates the players.
You have everything you need to make this happen. Start small, move quickly, and never stop iterating.
A few things to read this week
Thanks to the weather turning to spring, summer training preparations at Tread, and my local grass driving range, I haven’t read as much lately as I usually do. My Twitter screentime stats are higher than I’d like, and I’d like to adjust the dials to spend a little more time with a book in my lap going forward.
Nonetheless, here’s the best of what I’ve come across lately:
First, I loved Zack Kanter’s article, “You Are Not ‘Behind'”. If you’re reading this, you might’ve experienced the anxiety of feeling like you’re “behind” at some point in your life. I know I have. Kanter proposes countering this feeling by asking yourself, “Behind compared to what?”. When you realized that feeling is anchored to a (false) expectation you have of yourself, you can expose it for the lie it is.
Next, I have a weird affinity for cool architectural feats and stories. If you’re like me, you’ll love learning about the 90° rotation of the Indiana Bell Building. I first learned about it in this Twitter thread and before doing some further digging.
Lastly, back in February, I shared Best Story Wins by Morgan Housel. His point was that it’s usually true that the person who can tell the best story has a leg up in life. I’ve never been a great storyteller, so I’m all ears when I might be able to learn how to tell better stories. With this lens on, I was immediately intrigued when I came across Steve Jobs’ take on storytelling:
BTW: I found this on James Clear‘s Twitter.
Thanks for reading!
That’s all for this week. Appreciate you starting your week here!
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Until next week,