Practice Is Everything

Here’s an insightful peek into the practice philosophy of the NFLs Seattle Seahawks. Head Coach, Pete Carroll, shares some golden nuggets that any coach can benefit from.


Tap In(to) Practice

  • Before a Seahawks practice, players ‘tap in’ (i.e. hit the “I’m In!” sign) to make a positive – an active – affirmation of what they plan to do. This affirmation reminds me of a guiding principle of the New Zealand All Blacks: Ritualize to Actualize. The use of rituals remind and reinforce a mindset to ignite a collective identity and purpose. Tapping in by the Seahawks acts as both a positive (mental) trigger for each athlete, but it also reinforce the culture of the team.

The success of any day’s practice starts with the planning, organization and alignment of the coaching staff. You’ve got to be organized to have a great practice.

Affirm What You Want To See

  • “We’re really disciplined as coaches to always talk about what we want to see, the desired outcome, not about what went wrong or what the mistake was. We have to be disciplined and always use our language to talk about the next thing you can do right. It’s always about what we want to happen, not about the other stuff.”

The energy in practice, the type you’d like to play with, should be obvious in your practice.

Pete Carroll on practice: "It all starts with me. We have to set the tone intentionally as coaches..."

Critique Effort First

  • Most coaches focus on what a player should have done. Instead, the Seattle Seahawks start with how they give their effort first.

Doug Lemov clearly sums up why this lesson in practice is so powerful and worth modelling:

  • “They have guidelines for how they all give feedback – they have developed language to describe their shared approach to feedback to ensure that everyone uses it. The second is the content of the guideline Carroll described: “Critique Effort First” They chose their top cultural value—maximum effort—and have made sure they talk about it all the time. They align their feedback to their top value and always talk about it first before they go on to other things.”

Be Disciplined And Talk About What You Want To See

  • Focus on the desired outcome and not about what went wrong. Be disciplined about how you use your language. Talk about the next thing you want to see or have happen.

“We Don’t Ever Condition”

  • Under Carroll, “…the purpose [of not conditioning] is to elevate the energy that guys have to give during practice and also in between drills … If you’re walking, you’re wrong.”

Competition is Core