One of my coaches from way back in the day used to have this saying about trying to be too flashy with your game. “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
Although I’ve never attempted to put any kind of makeup on swine, I understand the basic meaning of this old piece of wisdom. I’ve particularly become well-tuned to the spirit in this saying since I’ve become a sports coach.
To begin with, I think it’s all about being who you are as a coach, a player, or a program. Avoid trying to be something else. Be proud and be the best version of you that you can be. Strive to reflect this in everything you do.
I also think “Lipstick on a pig” means something that should be very important to a coach. The focus on the core goals of the program. As a coach, there is a fundamental need to focus on the important things—those things your program needs to succeed. Outside of this core mission, all else sits on the periphery.
Everything has to have a purpose and a meaning that’s all about the mission. A coach needs to keep everyone in the program riding the purpose and meaning tracks to the goal.
Unfortunately, in today’s environment, there are a host of distractions waiting to put lipstick on your pig. There are well-meaning distractions from parents and fans that pull the coaches and the players away from the goals. There are also the not-so-well-meant distractions by parents and fans which completely derail the program and make achieving any positive steps virtually impossible.
And as coaches, we often distract ourselves. We do things for the sake of doing things. We run schemes and shifts and motions without a hint of the purpose to gain information. We invest time and energy in shiny, new things, that provide little or no value to the goal.
Coaches, take a minute, step back from the program, and have an honest look at it.
- What kind of distractions keep you from your core mission?
- What external distractions suck your time and energy and resources from where they need to be invested?
- Are you spending more time running outside activities that detract from your program?
- Is your training program laser-focused? Is every lift, run, jump, throw, sprint, and movement done with a sense of purpose in mind?
- Is your philosophy consistent with your actions?
Coaches, in short, take a look at everything you do and identify where you’re wearing out that container of lipstick. Find out where you’re taking care of things not associated with your core goal. Everything needs to have a purpose. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. Those things are not worth the expenditure of effort and energy.
Never lose sight of the prize. Keep your focus, your performance, and your program on task. Don’t allow distractions to derail you from the track of success.
Putting lipstick on your pig may make for a fancy pig, but after everything is said and done, that pig is still a pig.
Develop a goal.
Develop a plan.
Do the work.