My suggestion to you is that you must take that chessboard of your program and turn it in to checkers with how you organize the day-to-day operations.

Mandy Green

Should You Run Your Program Like Checkers or Chess?

I’m currently reading the book The Art of Learning.  In this book, Josh Waitzkin tells his remarkable story of personal achievement and shares the principles of learning and performance that have propelled him to the top—twice (Chess and Tai Chi).

A good portion of the beginning of the book is about the strategy of Chess and how complicated it is to learn and master.

That got me thinking about chess and checkers.  It is amazing to me how the 2 games that are played on the exact same board could be so different.

In checkers, all the game pieces move in the same directions: forwards or diagonally to jump. In chess, there are several different pieces and they can move about the board in various directions based upon their role in the game.

I think that the difference in the 2 games can provide a valuable lesson for how coaches should approach certain aspects of the job.

Play Chess with your Team and Recruits.

Great coaches understand that they can’t get the best out of people by playing “checkers” with them—treating them alike, expecting the same things out of each of them, handling them like some generic product on a shelf. Just as in chess, great coaches discover qualities, skills and personalities that are unique to each member and capitalize on them.

Marcus Buckingham writes about the idea that “your team will differ in how they think, how they build relationships, how they learn, how prepared they need to feel, what drives them and so on. (Most of these differences don’t ever change). The best way to connect with people is to identify how each one is different and how you can best incorporate those differences into your plan of action.”

You know this coach, right, so let’s move on to the next point.

Play Checkers with your Day-to-Day Operations

I play chess and checkers with my 8-year-old son Jack.  When we play checkers, the game is fast and it’s easy to know where to move. When we play chess, it takes a really long time because we have to think a lot more. There’s a lot of thinking, should I go here, or should I go there. Or what if this because of that.

One big problem I see with most coaches is that they tend to run the day to day operations of their program and with recruiting a lot like the game of chess.  There is no clear strategy, principals, processes, the right environment, or execution plan to work from so there is a lot of thinking and guessing as to whether they are making the right move.

If you have ever wondered why you or the other coaches who work with you are so exhausted, they’re not doing things the right way, it takes you way longer than it should to finish things, the quality of work is not great, or they are losing on the recruiting front, you may want to think about setting up a better system for how you are working in the office.

My suggestion to you is that you must take that chessboard of your program and turn it in to checkers with how you organize the day-to-day operations. You want to be able to say these are the pieces we are working with which can either move right or left, and only in this direction, which keeps it very simple for yourself and for your team.

If you give your staff and your players a too many inputs (work coming in), there will be too many options for outputs (work going out).  That’s when things become less productive because they are having to guess and think.  That’s when things become less efficient.

There are a lot of things to do as a coach, so I know it can be stressful and overwhelming at times.  But you can set yourself up for more success by finding a better system to manage and work through all of it.

I also see that because Coaches tend to treat the way the run their program like chess, they have to resort to treating their current team and recruits like checkers because they just don’t have enough time to give them the individual attention that they need

Making your day-today operations with recruiting more like checkers is what I will be doing for coaches who attend the 4 Step System to a Winning Recruiting System.  If you are interested in attending, go to here to register.  If you want more information or if you are interested in hosting one of these workshops on your campus, please email me at

Mandy Green

President Busy Coach

To schedule a FREE 30 minute call with me click here

P.S.  If you have found this article helpful, please share it with your staff or other work colleagues!  Studying time and energy management over these last 8 years and applying it to my coaching and recruiting has been a game changer for me.  I am committed to helping coaches get more important work done in less time so more time can be spent with family and friends.  Thanks!

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