SE+ Perspective | a perspective on sports matters

The Punt is the Most Important Play

The Punt.

It’s perhaps the most boring play in football. A guy takes a snap and kicks a football high into the air. Usually, another player catches it, it’s a fair catch, and then the game goes to a commercial. What’s the big deal?

Business will not always go well. Actually, sometimes things might go badly more often than they go right! Yes, people fail sometimes, and so will you. But are you just going to keep trying the same ineffective strategy over and over? NO!


And you punt well.

Teams punt when they’re in a tight spot. It’s a quick way to abandon a series of plays that aren’t working and to not make it any worse. Teams that stick with the original plan when the situation deteriorates often end up failing even worse. For example, say it’s 4th & 10 on your 43-yard line. You go for it. You don’t get it and so the other team takes over on your 30-yard line. Your defense is now in a bad spot. This one play changes the game completely and you could have avoided it by just punting.

Teams that value the punt are successful. Back when Jim Tressel was coaching the Ohio State Buckeyes he said “the punt is the most important play in football.”

The Buckeyes went on to the 2002/03 National Championship after a series of close games. The punt made the difference for the team.

Let’s see how this works in the business world.

Say you want to hire two sales people. You create the job postings, you accept applications, you screen them via emails and phone calls, and you meet with many candidates. And for various reasons, none of the candidates are what you are looking for. You have given this project time, energy, and money and you have also lost other opportunities as a result. You’re not as available to clients as you should be and you’re missing deadlines because you’re distracted by the hiring project. Now you still don’t have your two sales people and your business has suffered as a result.

What do you do? YOU PUNT!

You recognize that this hiring effort is not going to work at this time so you withdraw your job postings and get back to running your business. Once you have everything back in place, you can look at your hiring process, determine why you failed the first time, and get ready to try again (if you still think you need to). Or, you can try something else to grow your business, it’s up to you. The important thing is you were in a bad position, you got out of it, and now you can move on.

You have to take this play seriously. Go all-in. If you punt but don’t do it well (like if you shank the ball out of bounds for a short punt), then it won’t be effective. You can’t announce you’re stopping the hiring process but then keep on accepting applications and scheduling interviews—you have to shut it down completely, at least for now. If a promising-looking applicant comes to you, tell them to call back in six months. You don’t have a position open. You have a business to get back on track!

The punt makes the difference between staying stuck in a bad situation and getting out and trying something that works. That’s why the punt was the most important play for the Buckeyes during the Tressel era and why it can be for you too.


This image was originally posted to Flickr by kdoebler.