Friday, September 5, 2008

The better decision-makers are usually the better players

Came across a really insightful story about what makes Tom Brady one of best quarterbacks in pro football history.

The article is about Brady, but it could apply to any great player or coach (or executive), regardless of the sport (or field they work in).

Here are the "six characteristics of greatness" gleaned from the article:

[The quotes, which I pulled from the article, are from Brady's teammates and a few NFL analysts.]

1. Deliver when it matters the most: "The thing that’s so representative of what these guys have done is when the game is on the line, they make plays. That’s what separates teams and individuals in this league. When the game is on the line, they have the ability to make the plays when they count."

2. A never-fading desire to improve: "[Tom Brady] continues to work hard. He continues to show up early, he continues to prepare, and sometimes when you have success, people tend to relax. ‘Look, I’ve made it. Look, I’m here. I’ve won.’ But he never feels like he’s there. He continually feels like, ‘I will never get there.’ That’s his mindset. And you have to have that if you want to be a great player.”

3. An intense work ethic: "No matter how much [Brady] accomplishes or does as a quarterback, especially in the last however many years, he comes in and treats every year like it’s the first. He’s the first one in here, the last one to leave. He’s just a really competitive guy. He’s a special player. At the same time, he puts in the effort to make himself what he is.”

4. Smarts and mental toughness: "[Brady's] one of the smartest players I’ve been around. He knows the game inside and out. It’s amazing how he can put us in winning situations and get us out of a lot of bad situations." "He really understands defenses and how to attack them." "Playing quarterback, there’s a lot of things that happen on a play-to-play basis that you might not have anything to do with. But it can affect you. If you let it affect you, then your negative play can turn into 10 negative plays if you’re not really mentally strong."

5. A high-level of preparation: "That’s why in key situations, [Brady] looks so calm, cool and collected. If you’re prepared, like he is, nothing freaks you out. You don’t look frantic. He just prepares extremely well, that’s why he’s so calm when the bullets are being fired." "I’m sure from the way he makes it look so easy, he studies his butt off."

6. The ability to make good decisions: "I think for all of us, for any player, the most important thing is decision-making," Brady said. "There’s a lot of decisions that go into every play. For quarterbacks, sometimes it’s 10. Even for a receiver, I always say of Randy, and of Kevin Faulk [stats], whenever there’s a decision to be made, they always make the right one. That’s why they’re great football players. If you can do that consistently over time, I can develop a trust in them. You can really start to anticipate how it’s going to turn out. The better decision-makers are usually the better players."