Monday, January 26, 2009

Taking players out of their comfort zone

With the Super Bowl this Sunday, there's been plenty written about both head coaches who are leading their teams into the game.

So far, the best one I've come across about PIT coach Mike Tomlin is this one from today's NY Times, titled "Secret to Steelers Coach Tomlin's Success: Take Notes."

The article describes Coach Tomlin as a "reluctant intellectual," how he hid his good grades from his friends until his junior year in high school when they finally found out he'd made straight A's.

After attending and playing football at William & Mary, one of the top 50 schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report and Forbes, he considered attending law school, but instead took a $12,000 a year coaching job.

The article in the NY Times tells a story of how Coach Tomlin, two weeks into his job as a 28-year-old assistant with Tampa Bay, put together a tape of 75 plays from John Lynch's previous season. Accompanying the tape was a play-by-play description of how Coach Tomlin thought Lynch, a nine-time Pro Bowl safety, could get better.

“At first, I thought, What’s up with this guy?” Lynch said. “But then I started reading the detail. He’d show a play, then have a long paragraph about what he thought I could do better. I learned a lot from him right away. That sold me on him.”

According to Coach Tomlin:

"I’ve always been extremely competitive. I’m a big dreamer, I guess. I’ve been known to be pushy. I go out of my way to not put [my players] at ease. There’s nothing wrong with being in a permanent state of arousal and not finding a comfort zone."