Friday, November 7, 2008

When you're angry, you say things you don't mean

With his team on a two-game winning streak (both of which came against teams at the top of their divisions), Dolphins coach Tony Sparano is working to ensure his players maintain a high level of concentration:

"I want to see absolute attention to detail and focus right now. We’ve been down this road before. We’ve won two games and we kind of drank the Kool-Aid a little bit and then we lost two of them. Now we’ve won a couple, so we can’t do that. We can’t worry about everybody telling us 'what a good job you did' right now. We need to keep our head down and really keep swinging."

Managing a team during a streak -- winning or losing -- is a part of the profession that all coaches approach differently. According to this article, when his Packers teams would be going through a rough patch, coach Vince Lombardi would "drop the volume a notch in favor of more teaching."

John Madden, a Hall of Fame coach who led the Raiders to a Super Bowl victory in 1976, took a similar approach:

"When we were on a losing streak, I’d try to be gentle with my players. Well, not exactly gentle, but I’d try not to get upset, not to get angry. When you’re angry, you say things you don’t mean. And when your team is losing, angry words hurt and form scars.

As a coach, when your team starts a streak going, you don’t let up. Instead, you’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to be just the opposite of the way the players are. When your team wins two or three in a row, the players’ friends tell them how great they are. But that’s when you’ve got to pound that work ethic into them. If they win the next game, they’ll accept it again the following week. But even before you see them trying to slide, that’s when you’ve got to whap them back into line."