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Coaches Role in Building Routines


by Sean McCann, PhD
US Olympic Committee
Performance Services
Sport Psychologist

“Coach Shula had a very strict schedule in the last two days before the Super Bowl. He never let us go more than 2 hours without checking in for something. It helped us stay focused on the game.”

– Larry Czonka, member of 1972 “Perfect Season” Miami Dolphins
“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

– John Dryden
While most coaches will not follow John Wooden’s example by teaching their athletes how to dress properly for practice, all coaches can benefit from understanding the value of this effort. By starting with the most basic aspects of a sport, and ensuring that athletes develop great routines, a coach begins to develop the foundation of great performances.

While it can take tremendous investment of effort by a coach to develop new routines, the cost of not making this investment can be high. As the Larry Czonka quote suggests, Don Shula knew the cost of losing focus at the Super Bowl, and invested energy in creating a program that prevented that loss of focus.

An argument can be made that a coach will end up using a great deal more energy if they don’t help athletes develop great routines. An initial investment of energy in developing good habits will create a great return down the road. I see this all the time in sports, and I’ll never forget what a great coach once said to me. “Why are all these coaches screaming form the sideline? If they had done their job in practice they wouldn’t have to say anything during a game.” If a coach develops great routines, and the athletes develop great habits, then the habits make them great players.

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