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Dan Keating Explores The Influence of Bill Walsh -Champions Behave Like Champions Before They Are Champions

Dan Keating Explores The Influence of Bill Walsh -Champions Behave Like Champions Before They Are Champions copy

Dan Keating understands the profound influence that legendary coach Bill Walsh had on the world of sports. As someone who played for Mike Pressler at Duke University in 1999 and has coached lacrosse at both the high school and college levels, Keating’s coaching philosophy is heavily inspired by Walsh’s principles. With nine years of college coaching experience at Lehigh University, St. Joe’s University, and Stockton University, as well as head coaching stints at St. Joe’s Prep and Malvern Prep, Keating explains how Walsh’s strategies can be applied to lacrosse.

The Importance of Clarity

Dan Keating explains that clarity is paramount in coaching. Understanding your role as a head coach and clearly defining the roles of those you lead is essential. For Keating, the most important part of his job is being an educator, ensuring that the practice field is a learning environment for his players. This principle echoes Bill Walsh’s approach to leadership, where clarity and defined roles were critical to his success.

The Role of a Head Coach

Dan Keating understands that the role of a head coach is multifaceted. It involves building and sustaining the program’s culture and consistently reinforcing its core values. Teaching the essential skills and techniques of the game, equipping assistants with necessary teaching resources, and preparing athletes for success are key responsibilities. Effective delegation and communication with all members of the program, including assistants, athletes, faculty/staff, and parents, are also crucial. Keating’s coaching style is deeply influenced by Walsh’s philosophy of leadership and organization.

Four Pillars of Coaching

Dan Keating’s coaching framework is built on four pillars, which he attributes to the influence of Bill Walsh:

  1. Player Development: Keating explains that the ability to teach the game through different teaching tools is vital. Developing correct fundamentals, especially under pressure, helps players slow the game down and process situations more effectively. A disciplined team in execution allows for greater freedom and creativity, positioning players to reach their full potential.
  2. Player Evaluation: Keating understands the importance of evaluating talent. Identifying the skills pertinent to the system you want to implement is essential. Walsh’s success was largely due to his acumen in evaluating and selecting the right talent for his teams.
  3. Preparation: Contingency planning is critical. Keating explains that preparation involves considering multiple scenarios and planning for the unexpected. This meticulous approach to preparation is a hallmark of Walsh’s coaching style.
  4. Standards of Performance: Establishing a set of behavioral norms and beliefs that define how you lead your organization is crucial. Keating emphasizes that culture precedes performance, and organizations are organic and ever-evolving. Installation of specific behavioral norms, such as punctuality, commitment to growth, and selflessness, is essential for success.

Dan Keating Explains the Goals of Developing Players

Dan Keating explains that the goals of developing players are to execute correct fundamentals under pressure, slow the game down to process situations, and allow for creativity through disciplined execution. A commitment to player development positions athletes to reach their full potential. Keating’s philosophy is heavily influenced by Bill Walsh, who believed in investing in teaching and skill development.

Player Evaluation and Recruitment

Daniel Keating understands the importance of having a clear and compelling vision for evaluating and recruiting talent. Knowing what your immediate needs are and how you plan to use your personnel is crucial. Evaluating both intangibles, such as a ferocious will to compete and commitment to learning, and tangibles, such as physical skills, is essential. This comprehensive approach to player evaluation is a cornerstone of Walsh’s success.


Dan Keating explains the importance of preparation in coaching. He utilizes a systematic approach to offensive game planning, considering key personnel, timing, field positioning, and environmental conditions. Understanding the risks involved and making necessary adjustments are critical components of effective preparation. This thorough approach to preparation is inspired by Bill Walsh’s meticulous planning and strategy.

Standards of Performance

Daniel Keating understands that establishing standards of performance is essential for organizational success. Culture precedes performance, and specific behavioral norms must be installed and upheld. Being on time, having a professional appearance, committing to growth, and demonstrating selflessness are key standards that Dan Keating enforces. These principles are reflective of Bill Walsh’s philosophy of creating a winning culture through discipline and high standards.


Leadership is not for the faint of heart, Dan Keating explains. Effective communication, possessing a relentless work ethic, and having the humility to acknowledge and learn from mistakes are crucial for successful leadership. Cultivating a culture of trust and belief within the organization is essential. Dan Keating’s approach to leadership is deeply influenced by Bill Walsh, who was known for his communication skills and ability to inspire trust and confidence in his players.

Dan Keating understands that champions behave like champions before they are champions, a lesson he attributes to the influence of Bill Walsh. Through clarity, effective coaching, player development, thorough preparation, and strong leadership, Keating continues to build successful lacrosse programs and inspire his players to achieve greatness.