Play to your strengths

by Jack Warren, editor and host of the Top Coach podcast

This is so very obvious, it seems as if it shouldn’t have to be said. However, every good idea bears repeating. Play to your strengths. However, many coaches will hear about the way that Coach X has his staff and organization structured — thinks that it’s the best thing he’s heard in ages — and plans to pattern his own organization similarly. If you have parts for a barn, don’t try to build a house. It’ll work, but it won’t be quite right.

Here are some questions to ponder.

  • Does the current personnel makeup of your organization lend itself to your desired structure?
  • Is your current environment conducive to this type of plan?
  • Are there restrictions that would not allow for effective implementation of this plan?
  • Do you have the will to see this plan through?
  • Do you have the resources to build something similar? (see garage example above)


The first step in any type of shift like this is is assessment or evaluation. University of South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston is one of the best I know at this phase of development. Whether it’s his players, staff, or organization, he has a knack of identifying strengths and weaknesses and either playing to those attributes or changing the composition of the various areas so as to more readily adapt his plan. Do you want to build your team around solid pitching and an especially long bullpen? Assess the situation. Evaluate. Do you have on hand what it takes to implement your plan? Do you need to change your plan? Do you need to change your resources?

You may recognize that you need to better communicate with your players. Do you have what it takes to implement those changes or do you need to change (or reorganize) your assets?

Step one is the major hurdle. Once you do an honest assessment, you’re well on your way. Once you’ve identified where you want to go and what you have on hand to do it, you’re ready for action.


The next step is planning. It’s straightforward if your plan matches your resources. If there’s a disconnect, however, you’ll either  need to adapt your plan (adjusting to the resources on hand) or you’ll need to change your resources. You might find that in the short run, you’ll need to work with what you have and start adapting your new plan based on what you’ve got to work with. For the long term, if you see that resources and assets will need to be changed, added, or enhanced to accomplish what you want, then that should be planned for.


If necessary, have a formal planning session (or series of sessions) to formalize your plan. Put your plan down on paper. Then work your plan.


This is a step often overlooked, but entirely critical. It goes back to step one and it involves the ability to accurately self-reflect and assess (or reassess) the situation. Did the changes implemented result in the desired outcome? If so, how can we build on this? If not, what parts of our plan were ineffective and need to be tweaked or scrapped?

Again, as with most of these weekly columns, I don’t plan to provide you with all of the answers, but instead get you to think and evaluate — and, if necessary, to take action.




Jack is available to speak to your team or organization or at your next function. He also provides individual and organizational coaching and consulting. You can get more information on these services at Jack’s professional services site,

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