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Founder and Owner of the Flexbone Association. Since 2007 we have provided the tools necessary for teams to succeed running the Flexbone Association System. Over the last ten years over 200 teams have been instructed by the Flexbone Association. I've consulted with teams and or run camps everywhere from Belfair, WA to Key West, FL. The Flexbone Association strives daily to help coaches succeed with this time tested offense, I have been a football coach for 16 seasons, currently at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, GA I played at St. Mary's Springs High School in Fond du Lac, WI under legendary head coach Bob Hyland. I've been fortunate to be part of five state championship teams (1997,1998,2002,2011,2012). In 2011-2012 St. Mary's Springs led the state of Wisconsin in scoring and set consecutive school records for points scored, Psalm 27

What Motivates You: Autonomy

As a husband, father, coach, teacher and business owner, I am always looking for ways to improve. I’m sure you are as well, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. A book I heard about several months ago, and finally decided to pick up during the Christmas break is Drive by Daniel Pink. The premise of the book is that the rudimentary carrots and sticks analogy does not fully explain human motivation. Our motivations are deeper than the basic drive to either seek pleasure or avoid pain. Pink asserts that our three greatest motivations are: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Those goals can be reached with the Flexbone Association.


How many of you make your living exclusively by coaching football? If you are a teacher, or athletic director, or a non-educator coach, chances are that title pays the bills. The coaching side of it is something you do for another reason. What is your coaching stipend? kniumataloloIt’s probably a few thousand dollars right? How much time do you put in to football: during the season, in the off-season, on the weekends, looking at film, attending clinics, reading books, watching videos or visiting the Association. Your financial return on your investment is likely very small. There is no doubt that for the vast majority of you, it would be below minimum wage. Yet you aren’t out in the street protesting. You like coaching, there is something that you get out of it that’s is not a financial reward. 

You coach in spite of your pay. This flies in the face of traditional understanding of motivation. Why would you spend so much time coaching for a small financial reward? In 1969 Edward Deci was a graduate student of psyhology at Carnegie Mellon University. He set out to study human motivation. After a series of experiments, he theorized that humans have an “inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities to explore and to learn.”

This third drive needs the right environment to survive. It needs leadership, it needs to be developed. This is where motivation 3.0 comes in. We seek autonomy, mastery and purpose. This is why you see guys who’ve coached for 40 years scribbling notes at a coaches clinic. This is why coaches, some who have very good jobs, leave to take a different job. If our financial situation is secure, meaning our compensation is high enough that we don’t need to worry about providing for our families financially, we will pursue these three motivators. Once our families are provided for, dollars and cents aren’t important factors in motivation.

Inside each of us, we have an innate desire and capacity for self-direction. Deci along with fellow professor Richard M. Ryan also 39135734Efrom the University of Rochester; cite autonomy as the most important of the three basic human needs. Don’t confuse autonomy with independence; if you define independence as “doing things on your own”. Autonomy in simple terms means that we behave with a full sense of volition and choice; we have the ability to direct our own future. Researchers have found all over the world; from North American, Western Europe, Russia, Turkey, South Korea and other non-Western locales, a link between autonomy and well-being.

Autonomy has a powerful effect on our performance and attitude. Professionally it leads to higher job satisfaction and increased performance. The benefits of autonomy allows our teams and schools grow. The more productive you are, the more autonomy you have, the better your team will perform. It’s not just a notion, it’s science. 

Empowerment is a weak term. Empowerment assumes your employer has all the power and at various times may scoop some of it into your bowl. That’s not what autonomy is. That’s just a softer version of control. It’s an extended form of management. 

There are four essential areas of autonomy: what you do, when you do it, how you do it, and who you do it with. Rather than IngramFamily_crop_northdigging deep into the nuances of each area of autonomy, let’s examine how you can get there. Coaches who win, ethically in most cases, will eventually reach autonomy. There are the coaches who seemingly are able to get any job they apply for.

List the top five jobs in your state. Now list five coaches (who aren’t already at one of those jobs) who would be leading candidates at any of those jobs if they came open. Everyone should be able to do this simple exercise. How do you become one of those guys, and how can the Flexbone Association help?

If you are a position coach, how enjoyable is practice? It’s usually not that stimulating. Once you get past individual drills, you usually have very little control or input in the rest of practice. Someone else creates the practice schedule and scripts practice. Your autonomy is essentially over after Indy. For many coaches, this can be hard to deal with for long. 

Once you become a coordinator, practice moves swiftly. You have control over the practice. Your team is running the plays and practicing the skills needed for you to succeed on Friday. You are extremely involved in every step of the process. Outside of the head coach, you have the most responsibility for how 1227-spt-Trent-Taylor-coach-of-yearyour team practices and how they perform. 

When you move to the head coaching job, you are the person every other coach and all the players look to for direction. Now it your time in the spotlight. The spotlight can accentuate your faults, the fame of the position could also be fleeting. The stakeholders outside of your program want instant results. If you coach in a football rich area, your leash may be very short. You may get 3-4 years to prove your mettle, at times even less. The average head coach, is at a school just three years. You don’t have time to waste. 

When you become the head coach, what do you have to do to retain or increase your autonomy? How do you want to write your story? Part of the magic of doing so, is in taking the right job. If you take over in a good situation you will be tasked with keeping it rolling, or perhaps getting it to the next level and compete for championships. If you take over at a school with little tradition and 51683090994f3.preview-300few wins, your task will be much more difficult. You will have to get the parents, and players to respect you and work with you. You will have to convince the administration that you will make this team a contender to, just given the time. In each situation, the specific undertaking will require various skills to succeed. Success means different things.

Without leading into mastery or purpose, let’s just conclude at a basic level that you want to build a perennial powerhouse, and create a program that will live on, long past your time as coach. Every coach has had that dream at one time or another. To create those scenarios it starts with autonomy. 

No matter where you are in the coaching profession; The Flexbone Association is your tool in which to invest your career, your autonomy, your level of mastery and quest for purpose. Since I started this business back in 2007, I’ve consulted with coaches in their 60’s and coaches in their early 20’s and everywhere in-between. I’ve worked with state championship coaches, as well as coaches who were at risk of getting fired. it doesn’t matter if you are a head coach or an assistant. Nobody is too young or too old. Nobody is too good and nobody is too bad. 

The Flexbone Offense is a system based offense. It permits you to maximize the utility of your players. You will have autonomy over your preparation time. There will be no more Friday night guessing games. What’s required of you on Friday nights is to perform within the system to eventual success. The Flexbone Association Academy will provide you with detailed video covering every detail of the offense, which you can access 24 hours a day, on your own time. You will learn every adjustment you need to make. You will be shown how to practice, what errors to look for and how they can be fixed. You will be a step ahead of your 41823004001_1972080103001_vs-50a56c0fed4eb0e4c15daf9d-1083021587001opponent, and on your way to reaching your coaching career goals. Once you have mastered the offense, and the resulting wins increase your status, you will approach the time when you’ve earned autonomy over your coaching career. The formula is very simple. 

How can true autonomy manifest itself in your coaching career? First is autonomy over your task. This may be the most essential aspect of autonomy. Have the ability to create your program where you wish. Take a shot at that powerhouse program across the state. Have the confidence to seek these jobs. If you want to stay where you are and build something that, you will have the autonomy to do so. Coach where you want when you want. 

Next is autonomy over your time. You won’t need to burn the midnight oil game planning or watching film. Rest easy knowing your game plan can be executed by your team, and you will not be out-coached in the chess match. Stay a step ahead of the defense. You will be more productive in your work. You can and will measure success by the result, not by the number of hours you work. 

fafd44df06267008a95b9876f0cc4112Gain autonomy over your technique. An autonomous coach will not have to look over his shoulder. Coach how you want, when you want. Lead your team how you best see fit. Be yourself. You’ve earned it. You will not have to concern yourself with the opinion of others. A great quote a saw months ago says “Wolves Don’t Lose Sleep Over The Opinions of Sheep” Become the wolf!

Last is autonomy over your team. People who work in self-organized teams are more satisfied than those working in inherited teams. How many of you have had to inherit most or all of your staff? How many of those guys applied for the same job you now hold? Is this an ideal coaching environment for you? In some cases you have to start there, but you can create your own team over time. At some point you might find yourself surrounded by longtime friends and guys you coached who are now coaching with you. Everyone is working in the same direction for the same purpose. 

People who control their task, time, technique and there team have the most effective pathway to enjoyment in your job. We are born to be players, not pawns. We are supposed to be autonomous individuals, not automatons. Get on the path to creating an autonomous future. All it takes is one phone call.

Noland Eastin Photo: The Tribune

Ingram Family Photo: Not sure who took it, but I was standing nearby

Trent Taylor Photo: Andalusia Star News

Chris Seabolt Photo: Miranda Petersen / Bowling Green Daily News

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