I Got Outcoached


Years ago I coached youth basketball. Interestingly, I learned that coaching children also taught me a lot about business and communication. When the game clock is ticking, there is no opportunity to go back and prepare better. Verbal directions must be swift, clear, and understood. Game plans may be great but adapting is a skill that is just as important as defensive schemes and in-bound plays.

A coach in the lockeroomMy first three years of coaching were rough. Rough on me and rough on the teams. Like many accidental entrepreneurs and unprepared leaders, I had much to learn about coaching.

Knowing how to do something, in sports or business, does not mean you are well prepared to lead others in this thing. This led me to make many mistakes and, candidly, it cost my teams a number wins.

In a number of the close games we lost, I looked back and realized that I got out coached. Outcoached does not even mean the same as getting out-played. Outstanding effort alone does not ensure victory or even competitiveness.

For effort to lead to success it usually requires focus, planning, adaptability and preparation. Granted, sometimes some good fortune just happens despite a lack of planning. But that is the exception, not the rule, and not something you should count on for the outcomes you desire.

Like communication, coaching is a skill.  For each, by practicing, studying, and experience, we become better. All of these actions require a level of commitment and discipline. The better we are at that commitment and discipline, typically the better our outcomes over time.

While disappointing, I never looked at those games I got outcoached as failures, simply lessons in how others were better coaches. It helped develop my understanding of the game, of the players, and of opposing coaches. I’ve used that to help my business, my clients, and yes, the basketball teams I would later coach.

Effort is great, but learning as you go is what turns raw effort into success and opportunity.


Glenn S. PhillipsGlenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself.  You can email Glenn directly at glennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.

© Copyright 2012. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.