Legendary Kentucky Basketball Coach Adolph Rupp had a thought about possibly coaching a game in which his team scored on every possession and shut out the opponent. The fact is, Rupp’s teams for many years had such superior talent to most of its opponents, his fantasy might not have been so far-fetched.
When Tiger Woods was at the height of his game, he was asked about the lowest possible score he might shoot. Making all birdies on a par 72 course would be 54. But Woods was capable of reaching most par 5 holes in two shots, so those were potential eagle holes and most courses have four par 5s. So would 50 be the lowest possible score?
“Maybe lower,” Woods said. The world’s greatest players rarely break 60, though, and never 50.
Alabama’s Paul Bryant talked about goals, wanting his players to have a goal of winning the national championship.
For Rupp and Woods and Bryant, the success that allowed them to even discuss such lofty aspirations didn’t come because of their goals. They were successful because they did all of the things that made it possible to have great success.
Although they may not have had the same word for it, the attention they gave to details to be the best at what they did is a process.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban does talk about the process.
He is not thinking about his team scoring on every possession and shutting out the opponent.
“I want our players to play well,” he said. “I want to execute; I want to do things well in the game.
“I guess I focus and worry more about those things, how we do those things, how prepared the players are to do them, more than I really think about ‘We really want this result.’ And try to play every play in the game so you don’t really look at the scoreboard during the game, or think it about it that much even before the game, but you do think about the things that you need to do to be able to play the game effectively, and finish the game, and play 60 minutes in the game effectively.”
That’s the difference between process-oriented and result-oriented.
Rupp once said, “If winning doesn’t matter, why do they have a scoreboard at each end of the gym?”
Certainly Saban wants his team to come out on the winning side, and it does so at an extraordinary rate. This year’s Crimson Tide is 12-0 and ranked first in the nation. Alabama will play Florida for the Southeastern Conference championship Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
There are components within the game that Saban could – repeat, could – think about in terms of “win all.”
“There’re a myriad of things that are really, really important to being able to score on offense or keep the other team from scoring on defense,” he said. “I want to do the things that help you play winning football, whether it’s take care of the ball, don’t turn it over, or get turnovers; make explosive plays, don’t give up explosive plays; stop the run; get off the field on third down, be good on third down on offense.”
Success in those areas, and others, resulting in success on the scoreboard comes from intensive preparation. Saban has said that his teams practice situations “over and over; not so we will do things the right way, but so we won’t do them the wrong way.”
All part of the process.