In my opinion, one of the toughest things to do in athletics is turning a program around. Now, I am not talking about going from a single down season to a winning one, but rather taking a program from the throes of despair, and getting it on solid… winning… championship level performance. It is admittedly tough, but the flip side is that it is very rewarding
I have been fortunate to be a part of this a couple of times in my career… yet, I also was involved in an attempt that was never completely successful… we never quite completed the turn. What I do know, is that when you are successful, it takes everyone involved… student-athletes, coaches, teachers, administration, parents, and community.
I have many colleagues at both the high school and collegiate level that are in the midst of this type of challenge. In visiting with them, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most difficult thing is this… getting beyond “moral victories.”
Here is what I mean. From my experience, when taking over the reigns of a floundering program, one where the school, players, parents and community are not accustomed to success at any level, it is important in the beginning to find some small successes… some “wins“… even if you are not immediately getting actual wins…
- Great turnout in the weight room
- Better participation in the off-season program
- More players in the program
- More players at camp
- Improved work habits in the weight room and practice
- Improved leadership
These small, specific successes can lead to some “moral victories” during the season, even if you are still not getting more actual wins… it allows the athletes to see the program is headed in the right direction…
- Better margin of victory …or even
- Improved margin of loss
- Improved statistical performance
- Playing good opponents tougher
- Winning the “easy” games
But at some point, in order to turn a program around… often the last and most difficult hurdle… you need to go beyond just these “moral victories”…. And typically that means defeating an opponent that you were not expected to beat, or historically you have not beaten.
This is an incredibly difficult thing…. it is a chicken or egg problem. In order to win you have to have confidence… in order to have confidence you need to win.
I really don’t have an answer, just acknowledging the fact of how hard this is. In reflection, I don’t really think there is a single, magic bullet that can accomplish this, but rather a combination of all of the factors needed… a perfect storm… to complete a turnaround.
Coach James Vint, of Coronado high school in Lubbock, Texas, wrote one of the best articles that I have read on the subject. You can find the blog post here: Building Championship Culture
To all of you that have been involved in this process… (not to slight anyone, but area notables Bill Snyder of K State, Ryan Schartz of Fort Osage HS) congratulations on your great work… for all of you in the midst of this challenging situation, keep plugging away… you can do more!
- Do Things Right
- Turning a Program Around
- Don’t Spend – Invest
- Change the World
- The Little Things are Big
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org