Don’t Like What You See? Change It!

Sean McCormick
3 min readDec 2, 2021
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Somebody once asked could I spare some change for gas?
I need to get myself away from this place I said, “Yup” what a concept I could use a little fuel myself. And we could all use a little change —
All Star by Smashmouth

I don’t get why so many people feel change is something hard to enact, especially when it involves a change for the better. Throughout my years of coaching I have seen it on a regular basis. The head coach talks to the players about the upcoming changes to be made which are going to translate into greater success on playing field and will result in winning more games.

There’s the rah-rah talk of players buying in and giving it their all every minute of practice only only to see the coach turn a blind eye ten minutes later; refusing to correct the assorted grabass and talk during pre-practice stretching — totally refusing to confront those creating the lack of focus atmosphere. The coach jokes about ‘picking the right battles’ when asked about it, and there’s some validity to such a feeling. I’m all with throwing out some old school ways, such as not listening to music or players talking amongst themselves while on the bus ride to the game, but the daily 90-minutes of scheduled practice time is too important to waste. The non-solicted chats tend to carry over to the precious time following warm-ups, interrupting special teams time or individual position drills. Time is precious and even moreso when talking in-season practice time.

“If you don’t like the conversation, change it!” — Don Draper, MadMen

Even the Adonnis of Advertising from a TV classic knew what to do…well, at least the scriptwriter did. Incoming coaches always spout about changing the culture of the football program, but many aren’t confident enough to enact change immediately. A most recent example of the exact opposite occurred in Pennsylvania. A long-time successful head coach retired, and a year after retirement decided to take on a new position with another school. In 2021, his third season with the new team, he won another regional championship. A published article describes how he approached a culture change, mentioning a simple ‘no hats worn while eating lunch at school’ rule.

What does that have to do with winning championships? Maybe, nothing…or maybe, something! Aside from promoting good table manners many a mother has bestowed upon most of us, it’s a form of acknowledging a self-discipline. A student-athlete agreeing to not wearing a cap in the school cafeteria will also likely realize the importance of not interrupting practice during the warm-up session.

Many coaches will use the excuse of team roster size when hesitant on pointing out player attitudes which are detrimental to creating a winning culture. A coach with a roster of 70 has no problem enacting more team disciplines. A coach with a roster of 30 tends to tread a bit lighter. It’s understandable, but how much leeway is too much leeway? Picking battles? Yes, but not to the point of losing the respect of the team.

Where does a coach lose the trust? How about not correcting a senior who plows into a freshman in a scrimmage session — after the whistle was blown! Instead of worrying about how the senior will feel after calling him out, worry about how that freshman (and other frosh players) feel about a coach not having their backs. Later, what if the freshman is on the delivering the blow end — and the coach rips a new one into the frosh? Instead of a minor upset of a senior, he loses the frosh (and 3 of his best friends) because of the glaring inequities within the coach’s team culture. {Note: Discussing the terms of practice during off-season conditioning sessions, or at off-season meetings, can prevent it from happening in the first place.}



Sean McCormick

Turning the ‘complex’ into the ‘understandable!’ In Coaching & Leadership there is one constant — WRITING!