// you’re reading...

How to Win

Seeing the Best in Your Players

A man is walking past a pet store and sees a sign that says, “Talking Bird Inside.” He enters the store and asks the owner to show him this amazing merchandise.

Sure enough, the bird is talking! He is telling the story of a long career as a spy, complete with dangerous missions and high international intrique.

The man is astounded and wants to buy immediately. “How much,” he asks the shopkeeper.

“Ten dollars,” is the answer.

“Ten dollars!?! For a bird that can talk like that?”

“Well, the storekeeper said, “he’s a liar.”

A lot of coaches are like the shopkeeper. They devalue players because their faults instead of valuing them for their virtues. They emphasize what players CAN’T do, instead of what they CAN do.

Coaching, like everything else in life, involves choices. A coach can choose to see either the strengths or the weaknesses of any given player. You see what you look for.

Years ago, the New York Islanders drafted a player named Mike Bossy, who came with a reputation as a peerless goal-scorer. Someone asked team general manager Bill Torrey if Bossy could play defense. “Defense?” Torrey snorted. “The other teams will be playing defense on HIM.”

That’s exactly the way it turned out. Bossy proved to be as good or better than advertised when it came to scoring goals. He helped the Islanders win four championships, scored more than 600 goals in his career, and was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

And by the way, he wound up taking a lot of pride in his defense, too.

Critics even tried to nitpick legendary outfielder Joe DiMaggio. When DiMaggio was in spring training at the start of his career, Yankees Manager Joe McCarthy was raving about his potential. “He can run, he can throw, he can hit,” McCarthy said. “But,” one of the sports writers wanted to know, “can he bunt?”

“We’ll never know,” McCarthy said, meaning that DiMaggio could do so many other things that the bunting would be left for others.

On our team, we don’t care if players are well-rounded. Some players can do some things, other players can do others. It’s the job of the coach to assemble a lineup in which the talents blend and the weaknesses are disguised.

This process begins by recognizing what each player can offer.


No comments for “Seeing the Best in Your Players”

Post a comment