Coaches, be in Code Yellow off the field too
In my last post, I wrote about the topic of mindset and presented four color codes that should guide the thinking of players. These codes were based on the work of Colonel Jeff Cooper as described. Once again, the codes are as follows:
- White – complete unawareness, not paying attention at all
- Yellow – attentive, but relaxed
- Orange – focus is directed at an immediate potential threat
- Red – there is a definitive threat in your environment
As I stated, it was Cooper’s opinion that too many people walk around in Code White and are almost completely unaware of what is going on around them. As coaches, we know we have players like this too.
Today, I apply it to coaches because sometimes we fall victim to this as well. Often it’s away from the field when we think we can let our guard down. This happened to me after my first high school coaching season years ago. I vowed to never let it happen again. Here is the story …
When tryouts began to start the season I didn’t know any of the players’ abilities. I had never seen them play before. I also didn’t seek out much intel on them beforehand because I wanted to be objective with my own eyes and assess them only on their ability/potential as opposed to what previous coaches saw in them. When the lists were posted as to who made the team, some players who had been cut in previous years found themselves playing. Others who had played on the team in prior seasons found themselves cut. As expected, there were hurt feelings and some questions but overall things went pretty smoothly. We had a good season and the team, some individual players, and me all got some very positive press due to our team’s success.
The following Fall, I decided to attend a football game my school was participating in. Early in the game I made a trip to the restroom. While standing there “doing my business” I noticed a guy approach the urinal next to me. He smiled and asked “Are you Coach McCreary?” To be honest, my immediate reaction in my head was, “Wow, somebody recognized me. That’s pretty cool.” He then put his finger up towards my face and said, “You made a big mistake cutting my son last year.”
The primitive part of my brain wanted me to immediately turn 90 degrees and pee on the guy’s leg. However, the other more civilized part won out and quickly scrambled to think of a response. My brain searched for prior experience in this and found nothing. As the saying goes, I was caught standing there with my “you know what” hanging out. I don’t remember what exactly I said but I think was along the lines of “Um … who is your son? Ah, um … is he still playing anywhere?” or something stupid like that.
The whole interaction took less than 10 seconds. When I finished up and walked out, the guy was gone and I was livid. Not so much because some dad felt the need to confront me eight months after tryouts when I was literally in the process of relieving myself but because I didn’t see it coming. I was caught unaware and off-guard. In essence, I was in Code White when I should have been in Code Yellow.
Coaches have a huge amount of on-the-field material to worry about and plan for. If you are one of them, I strongly suggest you also give some thought to scenarios similar to what I experienced and pre-plan some basic responses ahead of time. Coming up with a great response 15 minutes after the encounter doesn’t help much. War-game a variety of scenarios in your head and think of a civilized, professional response that calms the situation but also let’s the offender know that you are not going to be intimidated or pushed around. We expect our players to do this on the field with sayings like “It’s coming to you. What are you going to do with it?” Take your own advice and apply this to off-the-field situations you may find yourself in. If they occur, you may not have had that interaction before but when your brain searches for experience and scripts of what to say, your war-gaming will enable it to come up with something.
And finally, always be in Yellow when you are out in public.