Saturday, August 30, 2008

Coaching "Unconscious Competency"

My sister is an SMU alum and I'm a June Jones fan, so I try to keep up with his work with the Mustangs.  He knows he has a big job ahead of him and his staff.  SMU, one of the nation's best football teams in the early 1980s, went 1-11 last season and has struggled since receiving the NCAA "Death Penalty" in 1987.

According to a story in yesterday's Dallas paper, Coach Jones' first order of action is to establish a vision for his team:  

"You need some trust in an organization, doesn't matter if it's pro sports or college. Everybody has to be pulling together with the same vision and the same goals. Otherwise, you're beat before you even start."

As the article describes, Jones' coaching style is built around patience and affirmation:

There are no whistles, no profanity-laced tirades directed at players who make errors. The only coach who consistently makes noise is assistant Frank Gansz, the special teams master – and even he's bellowing positive reinforcement. 

If a player misses an assignment, he's pulled aside, shown the right way and sent back out to try again. "Unconscious competency," it is called.  The thinking is that the players – who are, after all, impressionable young adults – will be confident in crunch time, when no one can save them but themselves.

[By the way, Jones (who started a true freshman at QB) lost his SMU opener last night at Rice, 56-27.]