The Coaches Bookshelf: Chasing Perfection

The Coaches Bookshelf

Chasing Perfection: The Principle Behind; Winning Football The De La Salle Way

Bob Ladouceur with Neil Hayes

Triumph Books 2015


“Strange is our situation here upon Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that men are here for the sake of other men.”

                                                -Albert Einstein quote on the opening page

Chasing Perfection: The Principle Behind; Winning Football The De La Salle Way is a book about coaching.  Specifically it is a treatise on how to coach and lead “for that sake of other men.”  Written by the legendary former De La Salle head coach Bob Ladouceur and the De La Salle staff, Chasing Perfection is a clear and direct brief about the fundamentals of the De La Salle football program.

For more information on just how legendary Ladouceur and De La Salle are check it out here.

This read should not be limited to football coaches, players, and fans. Chasing Perfection has valuable insight for coaches in all sports, business leaders, and parents.

The first two chapters, roughly a fifth of the book, are filled with principles that are ubiquitous for running any quality organization. Whether you are an assistant high school football coach or a manager at a local business, the early chapters discuss principles of leadership and organization. The first two chapters could easily exist as a standalone for any organization that desires to see the most from and for their players and employees.

Lessons on incorporating program expectations (for coaches, players, and parents alike), developing team motivation, and peer leadership are detailed in ways that can applied beyond the football field.

The football starts in Chapter 3 with Practice, Scouting, and Gameplanning. As the book dives deeper into football themes and stratagem I would encourage all football coaches to keep reading. Regardless of what type of offensive and defensive schemes you run, the Offense and Defense chapters are worth reading. As a spread/Air-Raid influenced coach I personally found the Running Backs section particularly valuable. More than just knowledge for knowledge sake, read all parts of this book, as there is application for all programs.

Offseason conditioning is perhaps the most important thing that makes De La Salle De La Salle. The chapter is not as much of an in-depth day by day plan, rather it is more a recipe for the conditioning principles that guide the Spartans: work hard year round, show up on time, get your work done, and get out. Conditioning only takes up a few pages of the book, but it is an important few pages in understanding how quality programs can be successful.

Chasing Perfection: The Principle Behind; Winning Football The De La Salle Way is a book that I will consult from my bookshelf throughout the year. It is an overview, a guide, and a reminder for the ways quality programs can be run. The De La Salle coaching staff tells you what they do, why they do it, and how it can be helpful for reader and the programs they run. They qualify their results with statistical and anecdotal evidence. From time to time it feels like a collection of memoirs from a staff that has done brilliant things for youth. More often however, it reads like a manual. Most importantly it is clear that the mission of the book is to empower other coaches to build youth to be great for others- the very mission the De La Salle program undertakes for their athletes.

-Coach Tim Davis

Why we coach.

May 13, 2016

A new offseason is here. Well, it’s not really new. It’s been going since January; maybe even since the final seconds of the state championship game ticked away at The Nest on Hillcrest late October ‘15.  A great acknowledgment must be given to forty some dedicated student-athletes that stayed relationally connected to the team since that final play. Seventh Hour, basketball, track, and baseball have been great centers of community for these hard working young men and women.


The work has been difficult. The workouts (you can check them out on the Eagle Speed & Strength Facebook) have pushed them to new limits. They will finish 7th Hour today with a foundational preparation for the speed and ferocity of football. The academics have been difficult. Cliché: being a student-athlete means you are a student first. And you are. But you are also an athlete. You are both a student and an athlete. That balancing act of multiple intelligences, the stress of time demands, and the perseverance through physical exhaustion must be applauded.


But what does it all mean? Why do we ask our students to do this training and this game? It certainly is not just purely for a football field outcome. One can work hard, but no effort in January will guarantee a win in October. It cannot be individual accolades. We work very hard to “injury-proof” ourselves, but when kickoff occurs every young man that straps on a helmet must be prepared to play his last play. In 2014 we lost a potential All-State receiver in a simple preseason scrimmage to an ACL tear. The kid worked so hard in January; never saw a play in 2014. There are no guarantees in football, only a dogged determination to work though the process. 


And therein lies the reason why we do this- to work through the process of building and maintaining relationships.


From here I must thank and acknowledge my greatest influences. Most notably in the coaching ranks Joe Ehrmann and Tony Franklin. Each have showed me that at the end of the day relationships are why we do what we do.


Ehrmann’s book InSideOut Coaching changed the way I did my job. He spoke of transforming students, not transacting with them. The “do this for me” and “I’ll reward you with that” philosophy was challenged. We were very successful in our first few seasons at West. It was easy to dust off shiny rings and think to ourselves that we could promise similar results if players just did what we told them to do. Instead what we saw were players (very successful on-field athletes) leaving the program without certain necessary social-emotional tools to make them productive leaders in our society.


Check out Coach Ehrmann’s TedTalk on what it means to “Be A Man.”


The mantra of transformational coaching changed my outset. It refocused me on the player. It reminded me I’m a teacher. It challenged me to care about the emotional well-being of the child that looked like a grown man.


We are business clients of Tony Franklin. He owns a football consulting service of which we are proud members. Scheme-wise he is perhaps the greatest influence on what you see here in West Anchorage on Friday nights. His consulting, seminars, and access to spring camps at University of California have allowed our staff to learn from great football minds nationally. “The System” as it is called also gives a common language to talk shop with other high school coaches facing the same issues on and off the field. But what I admire most about Coach Franklin just recently occurred. Fresh off of coaching the future number one NFL draft pick, Jared Goff, Coach Franklin left Cal (a situation by all accounts he was very happy with) and took a job at Middle Tennessee State. Why?


“When Laura and I made this decision to leave Cal and move back closer to our family we were very fortunate to have an opportunity arise soon after. The new opportunity allowed me to continue to coach football as well as have a closer relationship with our parents, children and grandchildren.”



Relationships. Specifically we coach for relationships that are built on the foundation of family. Family is the most important social unit in our society. We all have one and are all involved with our families at varying levels. The courage to fight for your family, protect your family, and make career decisions putting your family first are causes that we believe in.


Football is difficult. It is painful. It is sacrificial. Often the hardest workers go unnoticed. It is perhaps one the greatest sport to learn leadership, selflessness, and the need for placing others- treating others- greater than one self.


Everything we do is driven by the principle to create hard working leaders who have fun at what they do. Why? Because these are the type of young men we want leading our community: those that wear the name of Anchorage on their chest and the name of their family in their heart.

Coach Tim Davis is the head coach at West Anchorage High School in Anchorage, AK.