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Creating a "Masterpiece" in Spring Practice


As we prepare for our spring practice, I am in the process of thinking through all of the things we want to "DO" but want I am most interested in what we "ARE" when we are finished. At the risk of sounding dumb (which I am never afraid of), I have spent a lot of time reading what artists believe are important in creating a masterpiece. At the end of the day, I am always wanting to put a "masterpiece" on the field. Simply putting together some practice plans, installing a defense, and coaching a few drills I got off of the internet, is not enough to create that defensive masterpiece I am always hoping to create. Lord knows I have created plenty of bad art and most of the time it was due to a lack of vision as to what I was trying to create.


Here are a some takeaways about creating a masterpiece I found in my reading. As you read these, substitute words like team, defense, unit, players, etc. for the word "art" and substitute "coach" for "artist":

  1. If You Don’t Care About Your Work, Don’t Expect Anyone Else To Care

Don’t try and make work that you think you “should” be making—focus on making work that you care about. Love what you are making. You have to become consumed with the vision of what you are trying to create. Be so consumed with what you are making that your friends get annoyed with how much you talk about it. Then you will know you are on track.

I have certainly been guilty of trying to create something like everyone else has created in hopes that my work would meet with the same approval as others got for the same work.

2. There is a little critic that lives inside every great artist’s mind.


Be able to look at your work with a critical eye. This is when you are able to make changes in the creation that will allow something to be great. Always telling yourself that things are perfect while something might be just a little off will prevent a true masterpiece from showing up.

I know I have to be careful about this one. It is easy to see all of the things that look amazing while looking past some of the "bad art" on the canvas.


3. Create Work With Someone Specific in Mind

Ditch the imaginary audience. Think of one specific person that you are creating this work for. What are they struggling with right now? What keeps them up at night?

This one was easy for me to get my mind around but I have certainly failed many times in being too broad brush in my approach. Our head coach does a great job of leading this way. We do things with specific opponents in mind. I can always get better about this one.

4. Check Your Ego At The Studio Door

This one’s easy. Ego and creativity are two separate mind frames and come from two different places. Leave the first one at the door.

Again, this is an area where our head coach is an awesome leader. The expectation is that coaches will do whatever is necessary to give our players the best chance to win and that no job is beneath any of us.

5. Drop the Idea That Creating Art Will Foster External Validation

To some extent, everyone wants the praise and admiration of others. It may be fair to say that artists desire this acceptance even more. When you put your work out there in the world, there is an inherent vulnerability, and so you crave validation. When you go into a new concept thinking about how to gain the acceptance and praise of others, you soften the meaningful edges.

How often does wanting praise, validation, or popularity drive decisions when building our teams? How often does it enter into our play-calling? How often does it influence who plays? While trying to create a masterpiece this spring, I can't let these thoughts enter the creation process.

6. Don’t Live or Die with Trends

Have you been on Pinterest lately? Every curated wedding and baby shower start to look the same after a while. The same goes for art trends. Stop crowd-sourcing your inspiration. Stop making work that fits neatly and seamlessly on a Pinterest board.

Real, genuine inspiration takes place outside of a computer screen.

I don't know much about Pinterest or curating baby showers but I do know that we can get caught in "what is hot." Sometimes the latest greatest idea might be just what I need to implement and sometimes it is the quickest way for me to make a mess of things. I have to keep the vision of my masterpiece in mind in order to make great decisions.


I actually read several other awesome thoughts around creating a masterpiece. I do have a clear vision of what our defensive masterpiece should look like by the end of spring practice. That vision has almost nothing to do with scheme. Our masterpiece will be a group with tenacious and precise pursuit of the football. We will play with an unmatched level of physicality every play. There will be incredible juice and enthusiasm every time we take the field. We will be incredible communicators. We will trust and understand scheme as well as teammates. We will play with amazing poise. And we will all place winning above any individual accomplishments. I have to keep this vision in mind when building installs, drills, practice schedules, depth charts, etc. I figure if we can create this masterpiece this spring, then a dominant high school defense will show up on Friday nights next fall.




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