During Coach Larry Fedora’s pre-game radio broadcast last week, he said “I want us to be a team that plays smart, plays fast, and plays physical.”

Sounded good. Like something any coach would say to his or her team. Along with a thousand other things blah blah blah style, until it all runs together.

On Saturday morning, I picked up my ticket to look for my seat assignment and then took a second look. There it was again.
And on the game program.

PLAY SMART. PLAY FAST. PLAY PHYSICAL – seemed to be more than a passing comment at the radio show.

Curious – I asked James Spurling, Director of Kenan Stadium, if these words were posted in the locker room and other places out of spectator view.

The answer… it’s posted in many places.

PLAY SMART. PLAY FAST. PLAY PHYSICAL is posted in the weight room and in the Swofford Meeting Room so players see it every day.

Coach Fedora says it at the end of every meeting. PLAY SMART. PLAY FAST. PLAY PHYSICAL.

The last thing players see as they exit through the tunnel and onto the field is PLAY SMART. PLAY FAST. PLAY PHYSICAL.

With these six words, Coach Fedora makes expectations clear.

It’s not just a one and done message though. The many visual and verbal reminders in the stadium help these six words stand out among the thousands of other messages competing for player attention each day.

Fedora shows an even deeper level of commitment, plus courage,  by doing something  few leaders do – going public with his expectations (on tickets and game programs).    Doing so makes it possible for everyone to know what is expected – smart, fast and physical play – and to watch for it.   Yes – everyone is watching.  And hopefully rallying round them in support.

  • Are your expectations clear?
  • Do your “players” know what you want?
  • How, when and how often do you let them know?
  • How do you and they measure success?”(see note below)
The #1 killer of productivity is unclear expectations.  Make your clear.

Note:  Play smart. Play fast. Play physical. sets an expectation but it is not measurable. How do we know when we’ve been smart enough, fast enough and physical enough? Specific measures are needed.  The field , the scoreboard and the stat sheets provide lots of measurable info for Coach Fedora, his staff and team. Do you have similar measures?

Related Articles:

Fedora: “I Want Us To…Play Smart, Play Fast, And Play Physical” by Ran Northam