Make your environment so good that once the players have experienced it, they never wanted to be left out of it.
Separate Your Program from the Pack with Critical Non Essentials
Recently I was asked by a few coaches to give them my top 10 coaching management books. Number one on my list was a book called “Winning” by Clive Woodward.
I had the privilege to be a part of an amazing lecture about team management about 4 years ago. In this lecture, the speaker told us about the book Winning! The book is about the process coach Clive Woodward went through in turning a struggling England’s National Rugby team into an International Rugby powerhouse.
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?
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).
Don’t just do this exercise with your coaching staff!
This is a great exercise to get your team involved with. 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.
Below is a list of critical non essentials to examine within your program with your team:
- Locker Room (seating, equipment, lockers, extras, decorations, laundry)
- Dress Code (Home games, away games)
- Sports Information (Web, game, media guides, TV, radio, other)
- Practice (Before, warm-up, training, cool-down)
- Equipment (practice gear, game gear, logo’s, colors, misc)
- Game day
- Game day environment
- Fitness/Strength and Conditioning
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!