Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

“Learned” Laziness

Posted by admin May - 17 - 2019 - Friday

I got into a discussion with a coach the other day. I asked him how his team’s off-season workouts were going… since school is coming to a close and teams will soon be transitioning to PRE-season preparations.

He told me that he’s been pleased with how things have gone since they started working out in January. The kids had worked hard but…. he thought that they had gotten lazy here at the end of the school year. He kept on talking but that statement resonated with me. It continued to percolate in my head as the day went on. I called him later and shared this:

I remember studying in Psych 101 that there is such a thing as learned laziness! It comes about because people just naturally gravitate toward the “least common denominator”…. that is, getting away with doing as little as possible!… if you don’t motivate them to get up and move. If people learn that they can get away with sitting around or giving less than their best effort (and don’t get criticized), then they will continue in that fashion. I believe that this is what happened to this coach’s program.

He explained how they started out like a ball of fire! Everyone was flying around and working hard. Now, 4 months later, the fire seems to have burnt out. I asked him about HIS and his staff’s behavior. Had that changed? He had to admit that it had. The coaches weren’t challenging the players to move quickly between stations nor to get all of their reps in during the prescribed lifting time. I told him that, “you are dealing with something as old as time!”

It’s why Philippians 3:14 is one of my favorite Bible verses. You don’t have to believe in God to see that Biblical principles apply to life anyway! This verse says to: “PRESS on toward the goal.” Key word being “press!”

A goal worth achieving is going to require effort. More importantly, continued effort! Thus the key. Are we willing to “press on” 3 months or 9 months…. or 3 years… or 10 years to accomplish a goal? Some may call it stubborn. I call it “competitive perseverance!” This coach had fallen into the trap of slacking off; back-sliding; failing to maintain proper stress levels on his subordinates. (The key there is “proper.”) Once we stop pushing, our players will learn quickly that hustling or being enthusiastic or… whatever it is that you want them to do… is not necessary anymore.

I shared this as gently as I could with this coach cuz I didn’t want to come across as critical. I just wanted to help him and his program. He received it well.

Remember that the same thing holds true for our own life. We have to continue to demand the same level of focus, intensity or enthusiasm in our own lives too. And… it helps to have an “accountability partner” who will call us out if he sees that we are slacking off!

PRESS ON, guys!!!

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