Sunday, October 20, 2019

Football Clichés to Use with Students

We are halfway through the best time of the year, college football season.  As a kid, I always wanted to be a football coach.  I watched games all day Saturday, then I watched the coaches' shows during the week.  I wanted to understand the strategy.  I obviously did not take that path, but the intellectual curiosity is still there.  I still listen to post-game shows and analysis.  My wife needles me with "you just watched the game, why do you need the recap?"  She has a great point, but how will I know if my perception of the defensive line play was accurate if I don't listen to the recap?  

The recaps have the information I crave, but they also have the best clichés.  Every week, I hear some variation of the following:

1.  The game is never as good as you think or as bad as you think (a newer one from Oklahoma's coaches recently).

2.  We will enjoy this win today, but then, it is on to next week.

3.  We must get better each week, so we have a few things to clean up before the next game.

4.  Don't listen to the "rat poison." (Nick Saban made famous, and now, Jalen Hurts says it every week at Oklahoma).

5.  One play, drive, quarter, half, or game at a time.

The statements are obviously clichés, and some call it "coach speak."  However, I think the statements have value for our students if they pay attention to the meaning.  Let's look at each statement.

1.  The game is never as good as you think or as bad as you think.

This is absolutely true, and our students need to embrace this idea.  Too many students walk out of exams thinking it was either terrible or awesome.  Very few are correct.  If the test was that hard, it was hard for everyone.  If you think you knocked it out of the park, there is a chance everyone else feels the same way.  The review and feedback after exams is what matters.

2.  We will enjoy this win today, but then it is on to next week.

I encourage students to celebrate success.  Making it through law school is tough.  Every milestone from completing the first midterm to making it through the first semester should be celebrated.  However, I also tell students it is time to get to work the next day.  Finals, or the bar exam, won't change based on how long we celebrate.  The goal is still to be prepared by a certain day.

3.  We must get better each week, so we have a few things to clean up before the next game.

I use a form of this statement all the time with students.  Early the first semester, I over emphasize that I don't care if they are first or last in the class.  The goal is to get better every semester.  Employers want attorneys that can improve and learn throughout his/her career.  Self-reflection and improvement plans setup a great career.

4.  Don't listen to the "rat poison."  

This one is newer but funny.  The idea is to not let the media over inflate players' egos.  The same is true for our students.  Students should focus on getting better and self-assessment.  Don't listen to classmates talk about how great your class answers were.  Don't let previous grades lull you into complacency.  Every class and every test requires proper preparation.

5.  One play, drive, quarter, half, or game at a time.

Law school and the bar exam are overwhelming.  Over 500 hours of work for 10 weeks during the summer or countless hours of preparation for 14 weeks during the semester can cause anxiety and immobilize the calmest students.  The key is to only focus on today.  Do the work for today.  Complete the practice questions for today.  Focus on today because taking 1 step each day will eventually lead to the destination.

(Steven Foster)

Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink


I love sports metaphors for ASP and bar prep! On the importance of practice questions: Don't just read the question and then skip straight to reading the sample answer, telling yourself, "Yeah, that's what I would have written." That's like preparing for a football game by watching game tape. If you want to learn to play a sport, you have to break a sweat.

Posted by: Cassie Christopher | Oct 21, 2019 8:23:13 AM

Post a comment