The Four A.C.E.S.
One of the most important roles of a head football coach or of any leader is to evaluate and elevate levels of performance. Every coach constantly talks about improvement, or the need for greater effort. But how do you measure performance besides the obvious scoreboard.
The scoreboard can be very deceiving. If your squad is vastly the superior squad but barely squeezes out a victory, is that a good performance? Is that the performance you want?
Conversely, if your team is facing Goliath and they play their hearts out but come up short is that a bad performance? The old cliché’ that there is no such thing as a moral victory may be true but your guys can still give a quality performance in a losing effort.
I’ve been involved in four college football turnarounds and a critical ingredient was the measuring of performance. Sometimes improvement doesn’t show on the scoreboard or in the won/loss column but it’s still happening. If you can quantify that improvement and show it to your team, they will be encouraged and develop some momentum.
The Four A.C.E.S. is a system of performance evaluation that is designed to measure performance and also improve performance. The Four A.C.E.S. measures the process. We measure things we can control. For example a quarterback is only in control of picking the open receiver and throwing a good pass. He is not in control of completing the pass. He may throw a perfect pass but his receiver may drop it.
There are four areas that your players are in complete control. These are the areas we focus on. These are the four areas we measure and demand improvement. They are: Awareness, Concentration, Effort and Synergy. These are the same areas whether in sports, business, or just about any endeavor.
Awareness is to know your assignment or to know your product. Awareness is the big picture. In football it’s knowing who to block and why. You may do a great job blocking a defender but if it’s the wrong defender it won’t help the ball carrier.
Concentration is zooming in on the details of your assignment. Awareness is what to do; concentration is how to do it. It’s the technique of doing your assignment. Your players won’t be very effective if they know what to do but can’t actually do it. Concentration is focus on the details of the task at hand.
Effort is about putting all you’ve got into each play. The greater effort you give the greater your result as long as you are doing the right assignment with the proper technique. Coaches are always looking for more effort but never identify what effort is or have no means of measuring it. We have created a system of quantifying effort. By quantifying effort, you can measure it and if you can measure it you can reward it. We assign each position group 10 ways of earning effort points. These are based on what we believe is important. For example if an offensive player knocks a defender down – he gets an effort point. If a defender touches the ball either by an attempted strip, pass break up etc – he gets an effort point. At the end of the day play the guys who get effort points. Players will do what gets rewarded. We also post a chart measuring effort points game by game for the year.
Synergy is about intention. Is your performance adding to the team? Selfish players get penalties that detract from the team. Synergy is making your teammates better. It’s a “We not Me” attitude. Synergy is total being greater than the sum of the parts – 1+1=3.
When you evaluate performance you grade based on these four areas. If a player has a missed assignment – he gets a minus A, if he uses the wrong technique he gets a minus C. Effort points are given out for extra effort based on what we believe is important and synergy is based on whether the player is adding or detracting from the team’s performance. This system shows you exactly how to improve each player’s performance.( Lots of minus “A”s mean he must study his playbook)
This is a quick synopsis of the Four A.C.E.S. system. There is obviously a lot more to this. I truly believe this system was a tremendous tool to help maximize the performance of everyone in our organization. I have a limited amount of DVDs available that explains this system in detail.
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