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“You’re constantly looking for a way to connect the day with a story line, what a game has to do with the standings, what occurred against that team previously. But not everyone will respond to a certain message. Some players want it very direct, good or bad. Some, you have to build up with positives first. Some want to see it on video. Some want to talk face-to-face. Some are good with just shooting them a text message to think about as they’re going to bed.
“A lot of our job is to keep the fire burning. You have to find ways to change it up. The season is long or the team is tired. That’s when I’ll bring in music at practice or more competitive drills, to get them moving.”
But he doesn’t pretend to have all the answers.
“In some cases, they’ll respond better to one of our assistant coaches or (general manager) Kyle Dubas, maybe a teammate. I might send them to the gym or strength coach and trust their expertise. Maybe they have to work on their own mental side. Sometimes (players) have great suggestions, sometimes they’re off-base.
“It’s very personal. You can’t have just one communication style.”
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COMPETE, FOR PETE’S SAKE
Keefe says his time spent at the Seattle Seahawks training camp in 2019 made a huge impression on his coaching ethos. He’d read up on their leader, Pete Carroll, and was granted observer status and two 45-minute audiences in his office.
“Pete has a two-word philosophy: ‘Always compete’. The way he defines it is not just about competing against other people, it’s competing with yourself, to always be evolving, seeking to improve. There are lots of layers you can add to that, always competing to push your teammates, challenge your opponents and give yourself an edge.