Brian Kelly’s keynote speech at the Opening Night Dinner for Notre Dame Baseball was a smashing success, and another reason why many are incredibly excited for Kelly to take the reins of the Irish football program.
Kelly’s attention to detail and methodology behind building a championship team was incredibly detailed. And while some have compared it to the motivational tactics of Lou Holtz, Kelly actually went much deeper than the Tao of Doctor Lou.
Kelly’s comments were actually based on a learning theory developed in the 1940s by psychologist Abraham Maslow, who also wrote one of the groundbreaking theories on human motivation.
(I’ve got a feeling we’ll be tackling this one when the subject of pregame speeches comes along...)
Maslow was the first to posit the “Conscious Competence” theory, a theory that Kelly laid out for an audience eager to hear anything of substance from the new head football coach. And while Kelly did a great job relating everything to the recent instability of the baseball team after head coach Paul Mainieri left for LSU, you don’t have to have a Masters in psychology to figure out how to apply this theory to the recent struggles of the football program.
“A lot of people know how to win,” Kelly said. “Winning once and a while, a lot of people can do that. How do you consistently win? How do you win them all? That’s a process.”
And so Kelly went on and laid out the four stages of competence, which Kelly tweaked into the four stages of winning consistently.
Stage One: Unconscious Incompetence
Stage Two: Conscious Incompetence
“You know know what Coach wants from me on a daily basis. You now know what the formula is, but you can’t do it yet, because you have so many bad habits. You can’t seem to finish the drill. You can’t seem to pay attention to detail.”
Stage Three: Conscious Competence
“You now know the message, you are able to do it, but it’s really hard. It’s hard for you to stay on task. That’s where great coaching comes in and keeps you focused, keeps you involved in the process. It’s not, ‘Hey, I want to be a champion.’ Everybody wants to be a champion. What are you going to do about it? Conscious competence is that area where coaches really need to remind their players every single day what it takes to be a champion.”
Stage Four: Unconscious Competence
The entire speech is available to watch at UND.com, but it really is an impressive performance by a coach that’s learned a ton in his 20 years of head coaching experience. Kelly is by no means the first person to take psychological theories and apply them to the sporting world, but if there’s a perfect dissection of the problems that plagued the Irish football team under Charlie Weis, it was the never-ending, mind-blowing battle for consistency.
With Kelly at the helm, you get the feeling that this won’t be a problem for much longer.