Playing great defense is not about what you do, but HOW YOU DO IT! It does not matter whether you are a 4-3, 4-4, 3-4, 4-2-5, 46 or a 3-3 stack. What MATTERS is inspiring your players and mastering your style of defense. At the high school level we cannot recruit our players, so we must adapt our scheme to our personnel, and that can change from year to year. What NEVER changes is the commitment to EXCELLENCE by the coaches and the players.
A GREAT coach must inspire his players to play with GREAT LOVE for one another and remove the FEAR OF FAILURE. The story of Hernando Cortez and his troops is a great illustration of how a leader must remove all fear and inspire his men to TRUST one another:
In 1519, Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico on the shores of the Yucatan, with only one objective… seize the great treasures known to be there, hoarded by the Aztecs. He wanted to get complete buy in, so he eliminated the option of failure. He ordered the men to “Burn the Boats”! He then said, “If we are going home, we are going home in their ships.” With that, Cortez and his men burned their own ships, and by burning their own ships, the commitment level of the men was raised to a whole new level! Cortez and his men ended up conquering the Aztecs and creating an empire in Central America.
Cortez eliminated the option of failure and forced his men to completely TRUST one another, and if you completely TRUST your teammate, you LOVE your teammate! When you LOVE your teammate you will push him towards excellence because the TEAM will only be as good as its weakest link. When a team is full of men who push each other towards EXCELLENCE, with LOVE in their hearts, they CANNOT lose.
Now, your team can come up short on the scoreboard, but they are VICTORIOUS if they play for one another and compete to the best of their ability. I believe Jon Wooden says it best in his definition of SUCCESS: “SUCCESS is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” His definition has NOTHING to do with the scoreboard, and neither should ours! The PROCESS is far more important than the PRODUCT.
As coaches, we live in a world where we are judged by the scoreboard. Our administrators, boosters and parents judge us on wins and losses. However, WE must rise above judging ourselves by the scoreboard and focus on developing young men through hard work, discipline and brotherly LOVE. If we LOVE our players they will play hard for us and for their teammates, and they will perform to the best of their ability on the field.
Ultimately, our job as coaches is to develop our young men into productive members of society, so we CANNOT allow the scoreboard to deter us from that MISSION. We must LOVE our players enough to hold them accountable for their actions on and off of the field. We must look to the future and envision our players from 18 to 80. Fortunately, that perspective does not include the scoreboard!