Focus on the Process: Quality Control

In the past few seasons, much attention has been given to Nick Saban’s “process.”  Jason Selk explains it in Forbes:

The secret to Saban’s success isn’t finding the latest and greatest blocking offensive and defensive schemes. Quite the contrary. What Saban preaches day in and day out to his players and staff is the tested and true fundamental known as process focus. Saban teaches his players to stop actually thinking about winning and losing and instead focus on those daily activities that cause success.

According to Saban, process guarantees success. A good process produces good results. Likewise, if the process is off, the results will suffer. Focusing on the outcome is paradoxical. The more one emphasizes winning, the less he or she is able to concentrate on what actually causes success.

What Saban has emphasized isn’t anything different than what resulted in 11 National Championships for John Wooden.  Wooden said, “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”

The process certainly applies to what we do now as coaches to prepare for the next season.  Quality control is simply a way to inspect the process, fix errors, and continuously improve.  I have more thoughts and tips on beginning your off season here and here.

The process of quality control of your systems in the off season should allow you to both streamline what you are doing and better install and practice it in the next season. A decade ago, my staff wanted to improve the running game.  Our search for a more effective running game allowed us to consider all we did in teaching, installing, and practicing our system. We developed our answers to problems we anticipated and prepared for those as well. When that season ended and our quality control process unveiled more concerns, we went into the next off season knowing what questions we needed to get answered.

Finding weaknesses or problems in your systems doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scrap it. Again, the analysis provides control. That control now sets the focus for your planning. Many times it’s learning more about a specific technique and how to practice it. It could also be learning a simple adjustment to make that inefficient run better against a certain front.

Here are six steps for implementing quality control in your program:

1.  Run the reports that are available in your editing system, or, if necessary create a spreadsheet which you can sort to analyze data. What does the data show?

2. Identify areas of concern both from your data and from post-season meetings with your assistants. What concerns or issues did they have from week-to-week over the season.

3. Develop the plan. What are you going to do with the data? Is it time to completely re-tool what you are doing or only make small tweaks. Make this decision as a staff and move forward together.

4. Identify resources like books and videos that can help. Look at clinic schedules and speakers who will be worth listening to. Also identify your local resources  – colleges or other high schools – that you can go and attend clinics. Set up your professional development schedule accordingly.

5. Bring back all the information and present it to each other as a staff. What did you learn that can help you?

6. Design a plan for implementing your new knowledge so that your systems will improve on the field.

Good luck as you move forward in your process.


My iBook 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays provides concepts that can be utilized in any offense, not just the pistol. I have received some great feedback from coaches who adapted all or some of those ideas in 2013. Get 101+ PRO STYLE PISTOL OFFENSE PLAYS for your iPad or Mac from the iBookstore


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