Words & Sports

As Gary Vaynerchuk Said, Be a Good Halftime Coach

You can imagine my excitement when the entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk used a sports metaphor in his book, “#AskGaryVee.” It’s on page 7.

He said be a good halftime coach: make adjustments.

Oh, that was music to my ears. It’s good advice, too.

You can ask Scott, in my office, how much I adjust to changing circumstances. The freedom to do just that is one of the main reasons I like being a small business owner. I get to be flexible and responsive.

So, let’s look at how this works at halftime of an actual football game; you have about 15 minutes, just enough time to check on injuries, hydrate, and strategize with the other coaches to figure out what you need to adjust for the second half. Do it right, and you’ll give yourself a better chance for success in the second half. Fail to make the right changes, and whatever was going wrong in the first half will just keep getting worse.

Making successful adjustments requires:

Situational Awareness

You have to be able to tell what isn’t going well. Your running game is getting stuffed, thus the play-action passing game isn’t working? You better get that fixed for the second half. Is your defense not getting pressure on the quarterback by rushing four? You better consider blitzing.


You have to know what you and your team are—and are not—good at. For example, say you decide to blitz more in the second half. This means your secondary better be ready for one-on-one matchups with the wide receivers. If you know your secondary can’t handle that, then you can decide to do something else instead. Self-knowledge saves you from creating additional problems for yourself.


Making an adjustment can lead to even more failure. Are you willing to be wrong? I would suggest that if you aren’t, it’s best not to lead a team or a business. You can’t win them all, and the only way to completely avoid failure is not to try. Good coaches know they’ll lose sometimes, but they keep trying, they keep adjusting. They are energized by the risk. Are you?

Knowledge of the Game

Of course, a good football coach needs an in-depth understanding of football. While this one might seem obvious, it bears repeating: strategic ability, awareness, and guts cannot replace a detailed knowledge of the game. Do you understand the defensive alignment being thrown at you? You’d better, or you won’t be able to counter it.

Football coaches have only minutes to make these decisions. As a business leader, you’ll often have hours or days, but the principles are all the same. Understand what challenges you face, what skills and resources you do and do not have to draw on, and the deep, complex details of your industry. Study, read, learn, ask questions—so when halftime comes along, you are ready to make these important decisions. As Gary Vaynerchuk said, be a good halftime coach.


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Image of the First Sgt. Kenneth Gipe, head coach for the Team Bliss, was taken by Staff Sgt. Jes Smith