Football and Life: Lessons From The Gridiron - Part 5 Preparation

Those who were most prepared seem to have the most success. Want to be successful? Prepare for it.

During my few years at UCONN, I was able to play receiver and cornerback. As a receiver, I was able to compete against these 2 stud corners who both went on to play in the NFL. I remember being locked up by them every time I had a chance to go up against them. Used to hate how hemmed up they would have me. I couldn’t understand how no matter what route I ran, they were always there, right on my hip. It wasn’t just myself they would hem up, but just about every receiver on the team seldom had success against these two. The receiver knows where they are going and the cornerback does not, at least that’s what I thought.

Fast forward a few months later and I switched to playing corner. What I discovered is that a good corner knows where the receiver is going. How the hell do they know this? Preparation. These two studs used to dissect film like it was there job (it was their job). They knew if the receiver lined up at this landmark, if they had this foot forward, and on and on that each thing gave them more and more information about the possibility of routes that the receiver could run. My mind was blown. I understood this concept, but understanding the concept and actually performing are two totally different things. You had to put time in, day in and day out, to get to that level of preparation. What I saw on Saturdays were usually two absolutely dominant performances from two craftsmen, they were everywhere the guy they were guarding went all over the field, rarely did they give up a big play. Their awareness was unbelievable and you had to credit their preparation. It was no wonder our defense was so far ahead of our offense. The defensive coordinator set the precedent and every starter followed suit. It was impressive, to say the least.

Prepare prepare prepare. If you want to increase your likelihood of having success then you must prepare for it. Know what to look for, what are the signs, what are the steps you need to take if you desire to have success.

Bonus Lesson: Top Down

This lesson is one of the most valuable lessons I think I learned. That is if you want to be a successful organization, it needs to be top down. Meaning, the values, the work ethic it all needs to start at the top or it won’t matter what is below it. If the head coach doesn’t practice what they preach, you have no chance at success. This is a tough lesson to tell without throwing anyone under the bus. So under the bus, they go. Sike. The only point is you can have the best intentions and say all of the right things but if your actions and your words don’t match up, the message is lost.

For example, if you say it is important to be awake and present during meetings, you need to be awake and present during meetings. If you say it is important to be on time, you need to be on time. That whole do as I say not as I do malarkey is nonsense. Leadership has rarely worked from that standpoint.

The single best representation of Top-Down during my time at UCONN was watching the defensive coordinator who was also the positions coach for cornerbacks. This Dude is singlehandedly the most walk the talk Coach I have ever had. On any given play he could tell you what the offense was trying to do as well as what every single person on defense was supposed to do. From what technique they should use, to their assignment. He was ALWAYS prepared, he was ALWAYS present, he was ALWAYS knowledgeable. This created a top 10 defense during his time at UCONN, a number 1 defense at Boston College and a number 1 defense while at the University of Michigan. He led from out front and pulled everyone up. A true leader.

If you want to have a successful team, it needs to start with you, the ship goes wherever you steer it so if you are asleep at the wheel don’t be surprised when it crashes.