Mike Boyle: It’s Not the Program; It’s the Coaching

Sam Dadd, one of the senior coaches at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning (MBSC), thought the concept of programs vs. coaching would make a great article. The discussion began, as many do, with a question in a staff meeting:

Why does an assistant go to a new place, institute the same program used in the old job, yet fail to get similar results?

When a head strength coach moves on and the assistant takes over, why are the results not the same?

The obvious answer would be talent; however, that’s an oversimplification. My response to the question was simple and to the point:

It’s not the program. It’s the coach.

In the football world, legendary coach Bum Phillips described the coaching of another legend, Paul Bear Bryant, this way, “He can take his’n and beat your’n, and take your’n and beat his’n.”

In other words, if you and Bryant switched rosters, in a year he’d beat you with your own team.

The combination of a good coach with a mediocre program is much better than a great program and a mediocre coach.

A program is a piece of paper or a file in a computer.
Programs cannot motivate or create accountability.
A piece of paper can’t figure out what’s inside a person and understand how to reveal it.
A great coach can do all those things.

A great coach will teach, motivate and create an accountability system. The coach will figure out what makes each person tick, and then use that knowledge to get results. I’ve said for years that all of our programs are the same.

Our base philosophy never changes. Want to get fast—run sprints. Want to get strong—lift weights.

The difference is in the selling. The difference is in knowing what makes each athlete tick.

Another legendary coach, the late quarterback guru Tom Martinez, described it this way in the book Outliers: “Every kid’s life is a mix of shit and ice cream. If the kid has had too much shit, I mix in some ice cream. If he has had too much ice cream, I mix in some shit.”

Martinez knew there was a different key to every lock. To paraphrase Dan John, the key is to find the key.

The bottom line is there’s a reason strength and conditioning coaches Mike Woicek, Al Miller, Rusty Jones and Johnny Parker had a team in almost every Superbowl for about a 15-year period. They were great coaches who got the best out of their players.

There is a reason a coach like Phil Jackson succeeded in circumstances as different as Chicago and LA: Coaching matters.

Coaches change lives; programs don’t change lives. The people will always matter more than the paper.


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