Enhanced Performance Systems - ICCS


This is a Youtube video clip of a pre-game locker room speech given by Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino), the head coach of the Miami Sharks, minutes before the team runs onto the field for it’s first post season play-off game.   The team had struggled through the regular season losing both it’s number one and number two quarterbacks half way through the season.  Somehow they came together under their third string quarterback and made it into the playoffs with one regular season game to go.


Unfortunately, the teams third string quarterback Willy Beamen, played by Jamie Foxx, lets his and the teams success go to his head and begins to behave in increasingly narcissistic and arrogant ways.  His behavior becomes so destructive that by the final game of the regular season his line refuses to protect him, and one of them saws his car in half with a chain saw.  Crushed in their final game of the regular season, and functioning as individuals and not as a team the situation just prior to their first playoff game looks totally hopeless.  


As you watch the video pay attention to the facial expressions of the athletes, to their tendency to go inside their heads, to the fact that most of them are lost inside their heads focused on doubts and fears of failure.  Tony, Al Pacino recognizes that his first task is to get his players out of their heads and away from all of the negatives. 


Al Pacino gets them out of their heads in a couple of ways.  First, he challenges them, we have a choice we can heal as a team or we are going to crumble.  We have a choice we can stay in hell or fight our way back into the light inch by inch.  Issuing a challenge, however, isn’t enough, the coach or manager has to help the players believe that they can rise to the occasion, and to do that they have to trust him and they have to know that he can feel some of the things they are feeling yet still believe that it’s possible to “fight their way into the light.”  Tony does that by confessing his failures, the mistakes he’s made in his life which are worse than their and yet in spite of those he still has hope.


Once he has the members of the team out of their heads, once he has them looking at him, once he has captured his attention, he begins to provide structure and direction, he gives each of them something to focus on, something they can control, something they can do to contribute to the team.  They can do that by getting one more inch, one more step, etc.


Finally, he keeps them out of their head and gets them to come together as a team by challenging them to look in each other’s eyes.  What Al Pacino did as Tony D’Amato is what every manager needs to learn how to do in his or her own way.  You won’t necessarily use the same words or emotions, but the process you will go through is the same.  You need to get the members of the team out of their heads, away from the criticism and doubt, and focused on simple achievable goals that will make a difference.