According to Woodward, success can be attributed to how a team worked together under pressure, how they understood the importance of teamwork and loyalty, and how they were willing to do a hundred things just 1% better.

What You Should Change Going Into Next Fall

Hey Coach, 

I hope you are having a great weekend.  

I am using my time this Sunday to gear up for another week of helping a lot of different coaches wrap up their spring, organize their summer recruiting, and setting themselves up well for the fall by actually finally digging into establishing better operational systems so they can focus more on their teams and not on the operations part.     

A book that I always reference to my clients is no doubt one of my top 10 coaching management books of all time, a book called “Winning” by Clive Woodward.  (I would highly recommend both books by the way). 

The book Winning!, is about the process coach Clive Woodward went through in turning a struggling England’s National Rugby team into an International Rugby powerhouse and it has like a million applications for how coaches can improve how they operate every day.   

According to Woodward, success can be attributed to how a team worked together under pressure, how they understood the importance of teamwork and loyalty, and how they were willing to do a hundred things just 1% better.  

Marginal gains can be technical, physical, practical, operational, or psychological. In the film Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino’s character call it ‘Inches’: 

You find out that life is just a game of inches.  So is football.  Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. . . On this team, we fight for that inch.  On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. . .Cause we know when we add up all those inches that’s going to make the difference between WINNING and LOSING. 

Marginal gains: 100 things done 1 per cent better to deliver cumulative competitive advantage.   

Love it!!!   

In an effort to take his team from good to great, Woodward set out to create a unique and incredibly special experience for the players coming into his program.  His ultimate aim was to make the environment so good that once the players had experienced it they never wanted to be left out of it.    

Woodward created this experience and environment by focusing on the little things he called Critical Non-Essentials (CNE’s).  CNE’s are all of the little things or details that make your program what it is.  Not just any kind of detail, but the development of things that would and could set your program apart from everybody else.  

So, how does this apply to recruiting or to how you run your program? 

What do you do to set yourself apart in the eyes of your recruits if your main competitors have the same quality of players, the same resources, and the same standard of coaching?  To be even better and set yourself apart from your rivals you have to do everything in your power to improve the Critical Non-Essentials of your program.  

Here is what you need to do- Buy the book if you have a chance because there are a lot of really great ideas about team management in there.  Just a warning, it is a pretty long book and it mostly about Rugby (a sport I don’t think that I will ever understand).  It will be well worth your time to read through it though.   

Next, take the time to examine every aspect of the player experience within your program (critical non essentials).   

Below is a short list of some potential critical non essentials to examine within your program with your team: (If you want the full list that I go through with teams, email me at  

  1. Locker Room (seating, equipment, lockers, extras, decorations, laundry) 
  2. Dress Code (Home games, away games) 
  3. Laundry 
  4. Sports Information (Web, game, media guides, TV, radio, other) 
  5. Practice (Before, warm-up, training, cool-down) 
  6. Equipment (practice gear, game gear, logo’s, colors, misc) 
  7. Game day 
  8. Medical/Rehab/Recovery 
  9. Nutrition 
  10. Fitness/Strength and Conditioning 

Don’t just do this exercise with your coaching staff!   

This is a great exercise to get your team involved with when they get back in the fall.  Empower your team to give you feedback on how they would like things to be.  You have the ultimate veto power, but let them come up with ideas on what could make each aspect of what they experience within the program everyday a little better.   

If you want more from the players, you first have to give them good reasons why they would want to put in the extra effort.  You do that by making the critical non essentials better.  If you make your program attractive, prestigious and exclusive enough, not only will the players give everything they have within them and more, it could be something that sets your program apart from the rest in the eyes of your recruits.   

If you broke down everything you could think of that goes into recruiting or running your program, and improved it by 1 per cent, you will get a significant increase when you put it all back together.  

That is my purpose for everything I do with Busy Coach.  I help coaches break down what they are doing, analyze the pieces to see what is working and not working, and then putting back together the pieces to create an overall better product. 

The soccer team I was coaching before I read the book was 9-6-3 that fall season.  I was then introduced to Clive Woodward’s ways that next winter.  I applied every piece of information I read in that book in the off-season with the team and went from 9-6-3 to 17-3-1 the next season.  It took A LOT of time and effort to implement these ideas, but the results we got were amazing.   Not only was the team excited and committed to the direction the program was headed and with the experience they were having, the recruits we brought in during that time were pretty impressed as well.  I signed my top 6 recruits that fall and have been applying the principles ever since.   

Heading into the summer, I have been getting a lot of emails asking for help with this stuff from a lot of you.  I can’t work with all of you individually, but it has got me thinking about putting a training together for this summer to help a group of you out.  I will put something together and will send it out soon.   

If there is anything else I can do to help, please let me know.   

Have a great rest of your weekend.  

Mandy Green 

I created a Free College Coach Master To-Do List resource to help you get more PRODUCTIVE and BETTER ORGANIZED.