When Plans Go Wrong

By Erica Brown, Head Coach, Tiffin University  @Dragon_Lacrosse

As coaches, we cannot control everything no matter how hard we try. We are planners; from practices, to film breakdowns, to scouting reports, to game plans, away trips, recruiting classes, gear orders. Everything is planned down to the year, month, minute and second. What happens when all the planning goes out the window? What do we do when a wrench (or a whole toolbox) gets thrown into the plan?

     Photo courtesy of Tiffin University Athletics.

My life as a coach, and for that matter a normal person, is just a series of events where “if something can go wrong it will go wrong.” The ceiling in my bedroom collapsed a few weeks ago. I found out when I went home for lunch. I ate lunch and called my landlord. Who plans on the ceiling falling down?!?! The other day we planned to go outside for practice because we were nice neighbors and let the other university in town use our indoor turf time; of course, it snowed that day and we had to cancel practice. It was not supposed to snow four inches. Instead of throwing a fit about the ceiling or the snow, I looked at the bright side. I got a new ceiling and when it snowed, I had more time to watch scout film and our team had an extra day to rest.

We prepare as much as we can, but at the end of the day, we cannot control the uncontrollable.  We can learn from the uncontrollable. The uncontrollable events are what give us crazy stories to tell at recruiting tournaments and the annual meeting. The uncontrollable is what makes us pack winter clothes when we have a game at the end of April (you never know in northwest Ohio). The wrenches in the plans are what gives us the ability to take a deep breath and figure it out on the fly.

In the 13 years I have been a coach the biggest lesson I have learned when things go wrong is not to show your frustration to your team. In your office with your assistants, that is another story! Your team can tell your mood quickly. The team will not be too upset that Panera did not check their online orders and does not have their food ready if you do not overreact. They will, however, remember that we received free biscotti and Danish. The coaches will learn to call every restaurant to confirm they received our online order!

Being able to go with the flow is something I am extremely thankful my team is good at. They know if something is going to go wrong, it will. They seem to just laugh and roll with the punches. It makes the last-minute changes bearable and alleviates what seems like the weight of the world for us.

Embrace it when plans do not work out! Every coach has a story of when something went wrong; some of us just have more stories. It is a rite of passage every coach must go through. Remember, there is always a take away from the plan changing!

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