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Short and to the Point

How long do your meetings with athletes or other coaches last? Probably too long, in the eyes of Old Dominion Head Football Coach Bobby Wilder.

According to this story on, Wilder stops his meetings every 15 minutes or so to give the participants a short break. “When you’re locked in and focused on something for 30 minutes, it’s really hard to stay focused on what you’re doing.,” he said. “Now, if I ever have a team meeting where all 115 (players) are together, if I’m going to be more than 15 minutes, we’re taking a break, and everybody stands up, walks around, (and) they can leave the room.

“At some point, if you’re talking to somebody for a half-hour, they may be looking at me, but they’re taking a mental break,” he continued. “Their mind is wandering. They’re losing focus on what they’re doing. I felt like it’s something that’s been helpful.”

Wilder first implemented the 15-minute plan during preparations for the team’s trip in December to the Bahamas Bowl. It was the first bowl appearance in program history and the Monarchs walked away with a 24-21 victory over Eastern Michigan. He followed the same plan when speaking to a large group of graduate assistant coaches during the American Football Coaches Association convention in January.

And if you’re wondering what he expects players to do during their short break, you might be surprised by his answer—especially if you’re a coach who wants to keep athletes from their electronic devices. “The thing I’ll say to them is, ‘Get on your phone, check your social media,’” he said. “To me, that triggers to them, ‘I’m going to take a break mentally, and then when we come back, I’m going to get locked back in on what we’re trying to accomplish.’”

This all falls in line with Wilder’s general teaching approach, which is to keep things short and simple. Whether speaking to his players or other coaches, Wilder consciously limits his discussion to three main points. “People forget when you get to four and five,” Wilder said.

Coaching expert Wayne Goldsmith is another proponent of the three-idea rule. He’s even made it the first of his 3x3x3 strategy for effective team meetings, which he explains in this article on his website. The second rule is limiting any presentations or videos to no more than three minutes. The third is striving to engage players by asking for their input or feedback at least three times during any meeting.

Goldsmith also suggests that most ineffective team meetings suffer from the same problems—they’re too long, they’re too similar, and they cover too much information. He says that in addition to keeping meetings short, coaches should change up the environment regularly and tailor their approach to the learning styles of their players.

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