How Growing Grass Is Like Building A Team

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If you’re the kind of person who likes to get to the point without having to go through the story, the point is “Excellence only comes through patient to commitment to improvement over the long term.”

Thanks for your time.

If you want to read the whole story, read on.

I came across a story about a guy who wanted to get rid of weeds from his perfectly manicured lawn.  The expert he hired gave him the choice of killing the weeds, or growing the grass.   The guy was of course confused, until the expert explained.  Killing the weeds is easy.  The only problem is it makes the lawn itself weaker and in the longer term it is susceptible to more weed attacks.  The other alternative is to make the grass stronger, so that it eventually pushes the weeds out.  To grow the grass is the more effective solution in the long term but it takes more time and more work.

Short term easy fixes versus long term hard work are major themes in probably every field.  I see it every time a politician speaks on CNN, I see it every time I see a junior coach cheats to win a match and I see it in a week were two coaches (Gulinelli and De Giorgi) were fired in Italy.  I can’t possibly judge those particular situations (actually I can and do judge the junior coach) but I do know how difficult it is and how long it takes to create something worthwhile.  Long term success is not created overnight.  Raising standards and expectations takes time.  People are uncomfortable with standards being raised and will sometimes fight against it.  Matches can be lost while new methods are implemented and learnt.  Those moments are difficult and they test the patience and commitment of all.  But ultimately excellence only comes through patient improvement over the long term.  There is no other way.  The grass must be strong.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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  1. I wrote a long time ago that building a team (culture) is like building a wall – it starts with the foundation, and if you try to put the bricks straight onto the ground it will end up shaky at best. I like this analogy too though, especially as a good friend of mine just went through the ‘lawn’ analogy. His beautiful lawn was getting run down and weed infested. So by regularly cutting it, fertilising it and pulling the weeds out, the grass is now so strong it has overtaken the weedy areas. True story!


  2. I think you are being unfair on some junior coaches with regards ‘cheating to win’. You are being unfair on coaches who don’t actually cheat, but adopt tactics that limit the long term development of the junior players they coach. They shouldn’t be let off the hook so easily.

    Recently at a junior Beach Volleyball tournament, teams from one State adopted the tactic of (15 and 16 year olds) digging the first or second ball over the net then waiting for an error from the other team (note, this was not a ‘tactical’ play to the open court, just a play over the net).

    To be fair, this tournament was National Championships, so in some ways the players were ‘competing’ or ‘working out how to win’. On the other hand, to be fair to the players, missing this opportunity to learn all the skills of the game (pass, set, hit, block, etc) was not really fair at all.


    1. In my first draft, the line was about coaches who don’t teach players the whole game, but it wasn’t as elegant and didn’t link to a previous post 🙂
      Your point is definitely valid.


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