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The Coach

Coach talking to Athletes

Back when I was a kid, my folks used to drop me off and my grandparents’ house to go play bridge. My grandfather and I watched a ton of Monday Night Baseball and Football together back then (this was back when Monday Night Baseball was a BIGGER draw than MNF). There are a couple of games back then that stand out.

Joe Washington’s incredible performance in 1978 is a great one. Very much Google worthy. The wild Packers-Redskins game that included 95 total points and a tight end reverse run on the goal line was another. However, the one that sticks with me doesn’t relate to a player or a team, but to a coach. Specifically, Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula.

Shula’s Dolphins were down big early in the second half. Like four scores big. Back then, spread offenses didn’t exist, and the hurry up or two-minute drill was only used, well, inside of two minutes. However in this case, Coach Shula knew the ultimate rule in coaching.

A coach’s only job is to give his team the best chance they have to win the game.

That’s it.

It’s really that simple.

Put your team in the best position to win, no matter the circumstances.

So on this memorable night on national television, Coach Shula did just that. He gave his team a chance to win. He told his team to go into their two-minute offense…… In the third quarter.

The Dolphins scored. Then their defense got a stop. Then they scored again. Then they got another stop. As the game moved into the fourth quarter and towards the end game, the Dolphins suddenly had a chance since they had saved so much time by speeding up the game on offense. In the end, the Fins made a big play and won the game.

Even as a youngster, as the son of a coach myself, I realized what Shula had done. He gave his team a chance and they took it. The Dolphins won that night, and years later when I became a college basketball coach, I leaned on that experience on numerous occasions. What could I do to give my team the best chance to win, just as Coach Shula had done way back when.

So we have to ask ourselves this…..

Are we putting our “teams” in the best position to “win” the game they are playing?

A team could be a work team, a family team, an actual athletic team, or even a non-profit team as a volunteer. You don’t have to be the CEO or the head coach to help put your team in a winning position. You can do it from wherever you sit on the bus.

While I’m not a Dolphins fan, Coach Shula’s vision that night stays with me today.

Go out there and put your team in a position to win. Even when the chips are down.

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