Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

I had the opportunity to preview this book before it was released.  Stevie Grieve does a great job of breaking down the details of the 4-2-3-1, and it builds well on his first edition of the system (I’ve also read the first book).

In the “Advanced Tactics” he breaks down the defensive and attacking principles of the system.  Looks at certain professional clubs and what he has seen from them and this formation.  He also does a great job of looking at pattern play in developing the attack.

In both books he finished with several training sessions related to the 4-2-3-1 and teaching defensive and attacking principles needed for the system.

I recommend this book if anyone is looking for more detail and information on this modern system that everyone seems to be adopting.  There are definitely things that I am going to take away from Grieve’s book and apply to our 4-3-3 system this upcoming spring.

You can find more information about the book and how to order at this link: World Class Coaching

Great Quote on Leadership!!!

Posted: February 5, 2012 in Book Review
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“Everything rises and falls on leadership…The effectiveness of your work will never rise above your ability to lead and influence others. You cannot produce consistently on a level higher than your leadership. In other words, your leadership skills determine the level of your success- and the success of those who work around you…

“This is humorous story underscores the importance of effective leadership: During a sales meeting, the manager was berating the sales staff for their dismally low sales figures. ‘I’ve had just about enough of poor performance and excuses,’ he said. ‘If you can’t do the job, perhaps there are other sales-people out there who would jump at the chance to sell the worthy products that each of you has the privilege to represent.’ Then, pointing at a newly recruited, retired pro-football player, he said, ‘If a football team isn’t winning, what happens? The players are replaced. Right?’

“The question hung heavy for a few seconds; then the ex-football player answered, ‘Actually, sir, if the whole team was having trouble, we usually got a new coach.'” – John Maxwell; “Developing the Leader Within You”

With the season over I’ve had a chance to sit down and get back to reading some books.  One that I picked up was this book by David Winner.  It was a great book about the culture of the Dutch, not just their national past time.

Winner dives into the history of Total Football from its origins at Ajax and through the Dutch national team’s run of success in the Euros and the World Cups.  He not only explores the beautiful attacking soccer of the Netherlands, but he spends most of the book looking at the history of the country and the ties between Dutch culture and their football.

This is a great read for anyone who is a fan of Total Football, or soccer in general.  It’s a very interesting read that may approach the game in Holland a little differently than you’re used too.

Winner’s biggest interest is in the lack of success the Dutch have for winning the big tournaments.  Ajax had a strong run of success at the international level from 1971-1995 winning four European Cups/Champions League, especially the run that won them three in a row in 1971, 1972, and 1973.  But on the national side the Oranje have only experienced success once, winning in Euro ’88, but failing to ever lift the World Cup trophy in spite of being in the final three different times.

The world over agrees that the 70’s and 80’s marked the dominance of Total Football, but the culture seemed to lack the missing ingredient to make them world champions.  In fact Winner dives into the Dutch psyche to explore the lack of passion fans showed for the games themselves, especially the loses.

It was a very interesting read that was enjoyable to explore one of the countries that has impacted the game as much as any other world power.  I highly recommend this for anyone who is a fan of the Dutch or a fan of soccer history in general.

One of my players suggested this book to me and I’m glad he did.  I’ve read Ken Blanchard’s “One Minute Manager” and was very impressed with his writing, and this book was just as good.  Co-authored with Sheldon Bowles, the book is a parable of a corporate worker who gets fired for not being a team player.  In his spare time he takes up coaching his son’s fifth grade hockey team, and the lessons he learns about teamwork in the process.

There were four main principles they listed to developing a “High Five” team spelled out the acronym P.U.C.K. 

  1. Providing clear purpose and shared values.  An over-arching team goal or purpose that everyone buys into has to be established before anything else.  What is the “holy grail” that will challenge and motivate people to work together?  Make sure there is a clear goal and strategy to achieve the goal.  Once the team goal or purpose has been established then the individual goals and strategies need to be developed so each person knows how they can help the team achieve success.  The shared values by a group helps to define the group and build shared team culture.  The team purpose needs to be prominent for the group so they are reminded of where they are going (ie. the hockey team chanted their team purpose before every practice and every game).
  2. Unleashing and developing skills.  The fundamentals needed to be successful have to become a priority.  Without quality individual skills the team is useless.  Each member of the team needs to have a solid working level of the skills it’s going to take to be successful in achieving the team purpose or goal.  These skills need to be trained and developed until each has a working mastery of them.  Feedback should be provided that is positive and builds confidence and accountability in each person.
  3. Creating team power.  “None of us is as good as all of us.”  The term they liked to use in the book was “synergistic harmony.”  There must be a game plan that will help a team to be successful when each person plays their part.  Establish a system of rewarding teamwork and making it more important than individual achievement.  The individuals in the team have to understand the power and potential of what can be accomplished when they work together rather than working at the same time.
  4. Keeping the accent on the positive.  The final step is to repeatedly reward and recognize the team when they are living out the first three steps.  This will help build a culture in your team and keeps the cycle moving.  For each step there needs to be repeated rewards and recognition so the team develops a habit of each one.  This principle becomes the lasting piece that will help your team sustain success rather than going through highs and lows of working together as a team.  The idea is to catch people doing the right things, and reward them or recognize them in those moments.  Don’t punish negative behavior, but redirect the individuals towards their goals and the team purpose.  All of the recognition and rewards should be linked to the team purpose and goals.

The book was written for corporate management and team building, but the principles are the same for soccer teams.  I really enjoyed this book, and I’m glad to see a university professor that makes his college students read books like this one.  There is a lot of value to be reaped from this book and I would recommend it to anyone who works in a team environment.

The fact that it is written in a parable format made the reading enjoyable and easy, but I would recommend spending some time and picking out the principles and digesting them a little.  It’s easy to see how the four principles above can be applied to a soccer team, but the work comes with implementation. 

Most coaches will enjoy this book because it doesn’t try to rewrite anything or give us a magic formula.  The principles in the book are all familiar, and sometimes we just need a reminder.  But the four principles are logically laid out and I like how the authors show the progression; needing a team purpose before we can develop the skills to be successful individuals and help the team to that goal, etc.  I think this will be a book that I will have to add to my collection and use as a resource for my coaching staff.

One of the greatest coaches of all time, John Wooden, passed away this past year and it was great to see the number of people who came forward to honor him.  The impact this man had on the lives of players, coaches, and the public was very evident in the numerous memorials they played in the days following his passing.

The first year I started coaching I was introduced to John Wooden by a mentor of mine.  Since that first book I read I’ve fallen in love with the philosophy and wisdom that he shared with us.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have the opportunity to sit down with a legendary coach like John Wooden and pick his brain, and this is the value of reading.  We get to know the inner thoughts and mentality of great men and women throughout history.

The nuggets of wisdom found in this book are incredible, and timeless.  Even though Coach Wooden was a basketball coach there is so much that we can take away from him and apply to our profession.  This book was such an easy read too.  It’s set up with several short chapters covering the entire life lessons that he collected along the way.  It can be used as a resource or an opportunity to get to know the inner workings of a great leader.  It would take too much time for me to cover all of the great things in this book, but I definitely thought it would be worth while to mentione some key things that I’ve lived to adapt to my own life.

Probably best known for his Pyramid of Success John Wooden’s whole concept was built on preparation.  When asked what he missed most about coaching it was never the 10 NCAA National Championships, or the 88 consecutive wins, but Coach Wooden was regularly quoted saying he missed the practices and the players.  The preparation, the journey, is what he missed most, not the outcome of that preparation.  If his team did their best to prepare for the opponent that week they were focusing on the factors that they could control.  No one can control outside factors like the other team, officials, or the environment at the arena.  His teams put their energy focusing on the parts of the game they could control; their preparation, attention to detail, and their intensity.

This is a philosophy I’ve tried to teach my teams and instill into them.  Players who have confidence in their preparation play the game with less stress and enjoy the competition.  A great principle to take away from this great coach.

I encourage everyone to read this book, it’s a great resource for any coach, or person who wants to succeed at life.  Would love to hear things you’ve applied in your coaching philosophy that you’ve learned from John Wooden.

I love to read, and I recently finished “The Man Watching” by Tim Crothers, a biography of Anson Dorrance (head women’s coach at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
I’d heard a lot about this book, and I know it’s not a new release, but I really enjoyed reading this book about one of the greatest soccer coaches in the USA. There are obviously amazing things about this man’s life, but I wanted to focus on some of the coaching themes I gleened from this book.
One of the main things I enjoyed about the story of Anson’s life was his consistency in holding players at UNC to a higher standard, and never letting them settle for second best. The competitive cauldron that he sets up in training, and the constant encouragement to be better shows the passion of this man.
And maybe that’s what it comes down to, passion. Here is a guy who has coached at the same school for 32 years, and he still has the passion of a first year coach. He is motivated to give a hundred percent, and to hold his players to that standard day in and day out, year after year. Of any coach he could say he’s achieved what he set out to achieve and can take it easy now, but he pushes and pushes until his players hate his guts. And the result is a soccer team with a tradition unlike any other in the history of college sports.
Another thing I found so interesting about this man was how unique his leadership style was. Here is a guy that has everything planned out in his practices, constantly grading and scoring his players through training sessions, and they can’t hardly show up for a game on time. Gives me hope that there are coaches out there who have amazing results, but still might not be “perfect” in the eyes of the world. But it works for him. Another sign of his great leadership is the humility to surround himself with people who are strong in the areas of his weaknesses. He knows he’s not the most organized man in the world, and he has an administrative assistant that keeps him on schedule as much as possible. He has a statstician who handles the numbers and grading that creates the competitive cauldron. An assistant coach that is very relational with the team and will sit and listen to them and lend a shoulder to cry on after the head coach reminds her of the standard they failed to maintain. Anson knows his weaknesses and his strengths and found the people to help fill those gaps.
Great book! If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. Something for everyone in this book about leadership, overcoming adversity, and building a tradition of excellence and success.
What do you think of Anson Dorrance? Have you heard him speak or read any of his books?