As a coach, there are times where you will do anything to help your team get over the hump. Adjusting practice schedules, training camp regimen and even the overall physicality of the practices leading up to a game.
When all of this doesn’t necessarily impact the team in the positive way you thought it would, you often look for other avenues to help the team improve.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were one step away from the Super Bowl last year, head coach Mike Tomlin is taking a very unique route to get the team focused prior to the 2017 season officially getting underway in a few weeks.
What is this route? Goal setting.
Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Tomlin has had players thinking about 2017 since the end of the 2016 season.
“Tomlin had asked his Steelers after the AFC title game loss to record their football goals for 2017 and their life goals beyond that, according to [Darrius] Heyward-Bey.
"And I took time to think about that ... do I really take time to think about what I want out of life?" said Heyward-Bey, who didn't want to reveal his goals. "I surprised myself with some things."
If you are like me, you wanted to know just what players were considering top priorities as they try to add to their trophy case next season, and Fowler had the following goals set by members of the organization:
- Defensive end Cam Heyward wants the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
- Defensive coordinator Keith Butler said the "Super Bowl should go through Pittsburgh."
- Linebacker Ryan Shazier wonders if the NFL has a "Patriots problem," one he intends to solve with a win or two next year.
In fact, Tomlin isn’t even talking about the past, or the present, but is constantly looking forward to the task at hand in the upcoming season.
"I just want them to feel the urgency of every moment, these moments, now," said Tomlin. "These moments build to that. So, it's just a way of capturing that mindset and mentality that all of these days are important. There are consequences for all of these moments and days. If we want our dreams to unfold in the manner in which we envision them, we have to respect them."
Ultimately, this comes down to focus. Being able to see a goal, and go out and achieve it with a singular focus. The Steelers could easily have been labeled as distracted in 2016, likely due to several off-field situations which drew a lot of attention from the local and national media, and that is likely the reason for this specific tactic being used.
Tomlin might have put it best when he said, "Everybody is undefeated right now. I just have that level of respect for this process. I want our football to as well."