I read The Score Takes Care of Itself
by legendary football coach Bill Walsh, and it’s been really interesting, enriching, and enlightening.
The whole message is good, but I’ve been pulling specific passages and ideas that stood out to me & sharing them here.
It makes sense that Coach Walsh would be obsessed with preparation. His approach to preparation, though, provided me with a fresh perspective on the importance of planning.
“Hearing someone described as being able to ‘Fly by the seat of his pants’ always suggests to me a leader who hasn’t prepared properly and whose pants may soon fall down.”
Coach Walsh invented the now-common practice of scripting the first 10-12 offensive plays of each game. He thought through every contingency because “the more thorough, the more extensive, the more rehearsed, the better you perform under the pressure of any situation that calls for an immediate decision.”
This was a lesson he learned the hard way.
When Walsh was an offensive coordinator, his team was playing in a playoff game in front of crazy Oakland Raider fans. In their usual fashion, Raider Nation were yelling, throwing things, causing general havoc in the stadium, even affecting the atmosphere in the coach’s booth.
Walsh’s team got the ball with very little time left on the clock and, instead of calling the right plays to help them tie the game and force overtime, he froze.
Walsh’s poor performance cost his team a chance to advance to the AFC Championship game.
From that moment on, he swore he would always be ready for anything so the chaos of a moment never clouded his judgment.
“When you prepare for everything, you’re ready for anything.”
Most of us will never coach in a high stakes, professional football game, but we still face unexpected, high pressure situations where the right preparation can make all the difference.