Coaches Don’t Play

December 7, 2022

This one is real simple – Coaches don’t play. Coaches coach, players play.


Back in 2011, the New England Patriots and New York Jets were scheduled to meet in the playoffs. In the week leading up to the game reporters asked then Jets coach Rex Ryan about the matchup.


“This is about Bill Belichick versus Rex Ryan”


Rex is known for being a great motivator and for being a players coach, but he got this one wrong. As much as he’d like to think it’s about him and Bill, it’s not.  It’s about the players. They are the ones who have to execute.


Coaches don’t play the game. They don’t make the on field decisions. The don’t run the plays. The don’t make the hits. They don’t catch or throw the balls. The don’t do anything on the field. They don’t play.


Bill Belichick’s response was spot on.


“I think I might have a little quickness on him. He’s probably got a little strength and power on me. I don’t think you’ll see either one of us out there making any blocks or tackles or runs or throws or catches — at least you won’t see me doing that. It’s probably a good thing for our team.”


I like the last part of Bill’s response. It is a good thing for his team he won’t be out there.


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Sales is similar to sports. There are players and coaches. Coaches don’t play. Often I see coaches who think they are still players. They go on sales calls they don’t need to go on. They intervene in the sales process. They push their style on others. They act like they are still playing.


Once a sales person becomes a sales leader they are no longer a player. When this happens it’s time to change their approach. They need to let the players, play.


Sales leaders, sales executives and sales coaches, let your sales people play. Remember you are the coach. Prepare them for the task at hand. Give them the resources they need to be successful. Provide coaching and guidance to make them better. Once you have done all this, get out of the way and let them play the game.


Don’t be a Rex Ryan. If I played for Rex and heard that statement, I’d ask; “Why show up, it sounds like he’s got everything covered.”  If sales people hear things like this, they will think the same thing too.


If you’re a coach, coach. If you are a player, play. Just don’t confuse the two. It’ll cost you.


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