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Finding the Winning Edge

Before I left Evanston, IL to go coach the Carolina Courage in the WUSA,  I was wandering through Barnes and Noble and noticed a book by Bill Walsh about leading a professional football team.

The book was titled, Finding the Winning Edge.

I grabbed it off the shelf, bought it and quickly put it away to read later. I basically forgot about it.

Halfway through that first professional season I picked the book up.

Bill Walsh tells you exactly how to put the "pro" into any organization. He lays out a meticulous and detailed description of how to build a professional football team.  Some of the information contained within this book I will never need to know like "Sample practice for developing a quarterback's mechanics."

Nevertheless, I found it riveting at the time.  I still do. I might not pick it up for a year, but when I do I wonder how I let myself get far from its message.

I loved his other books. They tell a good story.  In them he supplies the narrative of the team or the season, with all its ups and downs and the results, good and bad, of each decision.  They are fun to read.

This is not that.

Finding the Winning Edge is dense with information. Detailed information. Valuable, high quality detailed information.

Five hundred pages in length with few wasted words, he clearly wanted to put on paper the depth of what he knew about coaching.

His other books tell you why he made decisions, this one reads like a blue print for making decisions. Get the structure, process and organization right and the correct decisions follow.

To show the extent of the detail, below are the subheadings for the chapter on organizing your staff:
  • Introduction to topic with quotes
  • Identifying the desired qualifications of staff members (4 pages)
  • Interviewing the candidates for the staff
  • The interview process
  • Determining staff assignments
  • Profiles of a working staff
  • Monitoring the assistant coaches
  • Giving younger coaches an opportunity
  • Assigning specific coaching duties
  • The responsibilities of the offensive coaching staff
  • The size of the coaching staff
  • All coaches are not equally talented
  • Taking future staff needs into account
  • Establishing the head coach's meeting schedule
  • Creating an effective staff communications network
  • Facilitating staff transition
  • Staff self-esteem
  • Anti-tampering
  • Dealing with a poorly performing staff member
 Did I mention he was thorough? Again, not all of this is relevant to my coaching because he is very specific about football, but it is not hard to extrapolate to soccer or any other sport.

Without a doubt Finding the Winning Edge tops my list of coaching books. Since I bought it almost twenty years ago it's gone out of print and all copies are expensive. 

I guard my copy. I've lent it out only once. Would I buy it again at the current price? I hope I never have to test that in real time, but I actually think I would.

(Disclosure:  This little blog is an amazon affiliate. If you purchase a book or anything through here the blog makes a small percentage. Thank you in advance.)


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