Outcoached? What in blazes does that mean?
As I pondered what to write about this week, one common theme kept popping up in front of me. No, not President Trump and the NFL, thank goodness. The overused, never fully articulated why, blatant display of a lack of knowledge on the part of fans, writers and reporters when they use the term outcoached.
Outcoached? What in blazes does that mean anyway, outcoached? I don't think I have ever seen or heard that term used when a team won so, to begin with, it means your team lost. It also apparently means your team lost and the coach didn't game plan, execute or call plays the way you would have sitting in your recliner, behind your keyboard or in front of your microphone. So it is a term used by non-participants to try to explain why participants got beat.
Yes, I know, coaches have used the term as well but typically when their own team lost and rather than throw their players and assistants under the bus, they point the finger at themselves and claim they were outcoached. I have never heard a winning coach being interviewed about a game who ever claimed to have outcoached the other team; that should be enlightening to the couch potato, pencil jockey and audible Einstein who really has no idea what they're saying when they use the term outcoached.
Here is a revelation for you: there is no magic in a play book or scheme. If there were then every coach would use the exact same plan. There is also no coach that I know of who creates a game plan to lose or designs a play he knows won't work. Every play is designed to score a touchdown, basket or goal. Other than for disciplinary reasons, I have never met a coach who keeps his best players on the bench when they are available or draws straws to see who to put in their starting line up.
Most coaches are obsessed with their sport and their team, especially in season. They spend painstaking hours dissecting their opponent on film and creating a game plan to attack the other teams weakness while taking full advantage of their own strengths. And they spend hours with their athletes on the field and off preparing them to win every time they play. Every coach I know hates losing more than anything else and will do everything they can to prepare their team to succeed.
What makes the difference then between winning and losing if not one coach outcoaching the other? Barring a mismatch in talent, the difference on any given night is execution. That's right, execution. Players carrying out the game plan their coach laid out for them better than the other team does theirs. When 11 players or five players or nine players of relatively equal talent do battle, the group that executes the game plan, the plays and the fundamentals best on that night will typically end up being the team who comes out on top.
Coaches are not perfect and they self-evaluate more than any profession I know. Someone has to win and someone has to lose and very rarely, if ever, does it come down to one team being outcoached by the other. So the next time you see outcoached written or hear it said, realize it is probably being done so by someone who has never coached a day in their life and what really happened was one team just executed better than the other and was the best team that night.
Maybe if we keep this in mind as we move forward, instead of pointing a finger and trying to find excuses for why our team lost, we'll just clap our hands and give credit where credit is due by congratulating our opponent on a job well done.
Contact Matt Cole by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.