Excerpt from Chapter 5: Learning to Win
A creature of habit, assistant coach Jerry Sims believed in repetition upon repetition upon repetition in preparing his teams, often driving the players bonkers by requiring them in practice to run the same play over and over again until he got the consistent results he was seeking.
In practice one day, Sims had his players repeatedly running the Blast 32 play — a run up the gut that the players had been running as a team for years.
“Run it again!” he’d bellow if he saw even the smallest mistake. “Run it again!”
On a lark, Davis told his teammates in the huddle that after they ran the play forwards he wanted them to immediately run it backwards. To please Sims, they ran the Blast play again and as they stopped at the end, Davis yelled “hut” and the entire team ran it backwards through their previous pathways and back to their starting point.
“You’ve got to see this,” he said.
“Run it again!” he ordered his team. The team ran the play forwards and backwards to the entire coaching staff’s delight. Whenever the coaches would have a guest come to practice after that, Sims would direct his team to show off the backwards play.
“We’d run those plays so many times over the years that we could do them in our sleep,” Davis said. “We didn’t think about the importance of that kind of thing then, but when you’re in tough situations and tough games, you don’t have time to think; you just have to do it. Through repetition, he wanted to make those plays so natural for us that they came natural to us.”