Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Players basically want to win and do the most with their ability

Quick excerpt from the 1976 book "The Gamemakers" in which Don Shula describes the pitfalls of sticking with players with "potential."


[Players] basically want to win and want to do the most with their ability. Length of hair, dress style, and even personal style do not shade that basic desire.

"One of the first lessons any head or assistant coach learns is to get rid of guys who don't feel that way," [Shula] says. "Get rid of him in a hurry because he's a loser. You learn the sooner you can differentiate between winners and losers the better off you'll be.

A lot of coaches have a tendency stay too long with people with potential. We call them coach killers. As soon as you find out who the coach killers are on your team, the better off you are. You go with the guys who may have lesser talent, but more dedication, more singleness of purpose. You spot them and stick with them because in a big game, they'll win it for you.

There's a tendency to spot a guy with potential and think you can bring him along. You wind up getting rid of a player who may be good, but not quite as spectacular. This is what hurts a coach. I've always tried to avoid that situation, to go with the proven guy and make the other guy prove to me he has what it takes."