Why Miami’s Turnover Chain was Overrated
Posted by Kurt Earl in Public
Outcomes are hard data. They are lag measures. The score on the scoreboard, the number of yards you gained or gave up, the number of players on your team. Those are all lag measures.
By definition lag measures tell the story of where you’ve been. They are the history professors of data. Lag measures are important pieces of information, but only because they tell you if the systems you’ve created are working.
Great cultures have a systems mindset. Coaches in a program that has a systems mindset take note of the outcomes, but focus 99% of their energy on the systems that will lead to the outcomes they desire.
For example, the obsession with rewarding players instantly for creating a turnover in football is the manifestation of an outcome based mindset. Coaches with an outcome based mindset ask, “How do we get more turnovers?” In the case of the “Turnover Chain” the answer was “We reward our players instantly for forcing a turnover.”
If you want to add some fun to the excitement of a turnover have at it, but merely increasing the external reward for forcing a turnover isn’t going to lead to more turnovers. Coaches with a systems mindset don’t focus on getting more turnovers. They focus on creating systems that will lead to more turnovers.
A systems mindset coach will put a series of practice drills in place specifically designed to increase turnovers. He will teach the details of those drills meticulously and demand proper execution. He might establish a reward for creating a turnover, but he will say, “When you put that Turnover Chain on remember it was the execution of the systems that led to the turnover.”
One more thought on the Turnover Chain. If you’re an outcome based coach and the only thing you do to try and increase the number of turnovers your team is generating is start handing out the Turnover Chain you’re assuming that the underlying problem is that your players aren’t motivated enough to force turnovers.
If handing out the Turnover Chain actually increases the number of turnovers your team forces it proves that your team didn’t have an execution problem, it had a motivation problem. The Turnover Chain is a classic example of a reward being used to motivate. By definition it’s an extrinsic motivator. If you have a team full of players who suddenly try harder to force turnovers because there’s suddenly a reward attached to it then you have a team full of extrinsically motivated players. Eventually the excitement of the Turnover Chain will wear off and you’ll be right back where you started: needing better systems.