Inside the Helmet
by Jay Mack
I was reflecting on our last season this past spring while scanning the newspaper one morning. I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw an article written by Ron Borges of the Boston Globe. The article started out with: “Bill Belichick still remembers the first time he saw what Bob Troutwine could do.”
This took me back several years when I was the head coach at Christian High School in San Diego. A private school, we could offer tuition paid spots to promising athletes. I was doing a lot of hand-wringing over some misgivings about my prospects. I picked up the phone and called the San Diego Chargers, to find out how they dealt with these issues in the NFL Draft. That was when I first heard of Bob Troutwine.
I called Dr. Troutwine and explained my situation. He was in the throes of the Draft and I could tell he really did not want to take on this project initially. But he agreed and we did a psychological profile on my prospects. I was uneasy at first, paying a $100 a piece for each profile. I was afraid I would get back a lot of mumbo-jumbo about this player being fixated on his mother and that player being a victim of severe toilet training. That was when I first saw what Bob Troutwine could do.
Troutwine’s reports, called the TAP Coach report, sounded like a football coach talking. There were no words like “maybe” or “perhaps”. There were no psycho-babble phrases like “inner conflict”. It was all meat and potatoes. Phrases like “he lacks physical toughness” or “he will battle with his weight” made my decision very easy. I made the right choice and learned the report also helped me do a better job of coaching that player during his high school career.
I stayed in touch with Bob over the years. I found if I profiled a freshman, I did not have to coach him a couple of years just to get to know him and what made him tick. It gave me a jump start. I knew what to expect in terms of the player fitting in with the team. I knew how he learned things, the best way to teach him. I had a scouting report on his playing tendencies. In short, I had a real coaching edge.
I let Bob know how I felt about his work. I told him he needed to let other coaches know how he could help. I encouraged him to figure out a way to make his reports more available to coaches, because we all know players are different today, coaching is different today.
The point of this story is there are some great tools out there to help coaches. Dr. Troutwine has developed a website and TAP reports can be taken on the internet. Now there are TAP reports that go directly to the player and coach him on how to think and act like a winner. Plus, it costs only about a third of what I paid six years ago.
In summary, I learned what Bob Troutwine could do. He showed me coaches have to get to know their players. Coaches have to adjust their style and approach to fit the situation and the player. Players can develop skills like competitiveness, composure under pressure, better practice habits and mental focus. These traits are not simply inborn or developed through trial and error, but through a deliberate process. I learned if you don’t manage the mental side of the game you are simply hoping the ball bounces your way. If you are like me, don’t count on luck.