Jeff Johnson's

Quotes of the Week

Jeff Johnson was employee #1 for Nike and is a widely travelled and experienced coach with a wealth of knowledge, advice, and information to share. We are lucky and honored to have him involved with New Hampshire Track and Field and to have him share some of what he's learned from the sport over the years. It certainly exemplifies Jeff's humility and awry sense of humor.

Quotes by Jeff Johnson from his work in progress: “In Other Words: Things I Think I Said When I Was Trying To Think Of Something To Say.”

July 27, 2020

"To dream and then to dedicate yourself to fulfilling that dream is the point of the inner-directed life. It is what makes us human."


July 20, 2020

"The most effective coaches are not necessarily those with the best credentials, but the ones who give the most of themselves."


July 13, 2020

"Entropy is the natural decay of systems. Every kind of system you have in place requires permanent monitoring, maintenance and repair if it is to remain fully functional."


July 6, 2020

"We cannot create champions. We can only create the opportunities for champions to create themselves."


June 29, 2020

"When something unpleasant needs to be done, sometimes the choice is should you do it, or should you let someone else do it. If you delegate the unpleasant task you will lose the opportunity to grow your experience from having dealt with something that was annoying, difficult, or stressful. You will miss the self-satisfaction of having risen to the challenge. You will lose the self-confidence that would have prepared you for a future task you might be unable to avoid. You will fail in your responsibility and forfeit your right to leadership. So do it yourself."

June 22, 2020

"Find something positive, share something useful, close with something encouraging."

June 15, 2020

"To encourage is to infuse with the courage to try; to encourage is to inspire the patience to develop. Many is the athlete who achieved greatness because a coach he believed in encouraged him."

June 8, 2020

"Unless it is recklessly dangerous to life, do what scares you. If it goes wrong, your pride will recover, your ego will heal. If it goes right, you may alter your life."

June 1, 2020

"What is coaching? It is getting athletes to believe that what today is impossible for them, will one day be possible. That's what coaching is, and that's what coaches do."

May 25, 2020

"To empower a person, you show them what to do, you teach them how to do it, then you enlist them in the doing while you fade stupidly into the background. A person once empowered is a person forever empowered."

May 18, 2020

"Expect your athletes to be as successful off the track as well as on. Expect them to be good learners as well as good sportsmen. Expect them to be humble, respectful, and of good character. Expect them to make their teammates, coaches, parents, school and town proud of them."

May 11, 2020

"A person who values a life of ease and comfort above effort and discomfort discovers, prematurely, the effort and discomfort of frailty and old age."

May 4, 2020

Respect effort. The true value of competitive sport is measured in effort, not in numbers on a watch or tape measure, or medals in a draw.

April 27, 2020

"It is not the situation that is positive or negative; it is your attitude toward it. The situation is neutral; it is just what it is. Be conscious of your attitude, and keep your thoughts positive."

April 20, 2020

"Adversity is the greatest teacher. She demonstrates your courage and your toughness. She shows you what you can endure and come back from."

April 13, 2020

"The reward for a life of comfort and ease is insignificance."

April 6, 2020

"I hang a 'squirrel-proof' bird feeder on a tree, scatter seed on the ground to benefit the squirrels, then watch in wonder as the squirrels prefer to match themselves against the feeder rather than accept the seed freely available on the ground. If squirrels embrace challenge so easily should not we?"

March 30, 2020

Every day challenges us at least twenty times to be better people than we are naturally inclined to be."

March 23, 2020

"The tougher the challenge, the more likely we are to question our abilities, when what we should be doing instead is focusing on doing the very best we can."

March 16, 2020

"Challenge is opportunity. The most meaningful victories in life result from the acceptance of challenge, refusing to flinch, refusing to yield, and persevering to resolution."

March 9, 2020

"The athlete and the sport meet at the coach. The coach determines whether the athlete's experience was enlightening, enjoyable, fulfilling, worthwhile, and whether the athlete will want to repeat the experience next season and maybe beyond."

March 2, 2020

"Children who are shielded from the disappointment of losing in sports will never make the effort required to win."

February 24, 2020

"Character reveals itself in patiently submitting to the rigors of training, in enduring the suffering and sacrifices required to improve, and in overcoming the inevitable setbacks and adversity along the way."

February 17, 2020

"Devote your energies toward developing champions, not recruiting them. Seemingly ordinary talents will continually surprise you, and there is greater satisfaction in the developing."

February 10, 2020

"The more you celebrate your athletes' successes, the more athlete's successes you will have to celebrate."

February 3, 2020

"Before telling an athlete to do one's best, be sure the athlete knows what to do."

January 27, 2020

"Fiercely believe in your athletes. You can give them no greater gift and no greater competitive advantage."

January 20, 2020

"When adversity strikes - losing, injuries, terrible weather, whatever - recognize that your attitude to it all is of critical importance. If you can maintain your optimism and enthusiasm through the tough times, your team has its best chance to maintain theirs. Find the positives and broadcast them. That's leadership."

January 13, 2020

"Never doubt that athletes train and compete for their own reasons, not yours; that they work with you, not for you. And that is as it should be."

January 6, 2020

"It s not what the coach knows that matters. It is what the athlete learns and how inspired they are that matters."

December 30, 2019

"Set standards for excellence, opportunity and fairness, for athlete-ownership, participation, recognition and satisfaction that will make every kid in school want to be a member of your team. If you like your teams large and deep with talent, consider yourself in the customer service business. Give your customers more than they expected."

December 23, 2019

"Never underestimate your athletes, either as athletes or people. And if you do, never give voice to your misgivings. Instead, encourage and praise. You will be pleased at how often they will surprise you. "

December 16, 2019

"When your athletes are doing well, emphasize improvement; don't let them ease up. Keep them focused on their progress. When your athletes are doing poorly, emphasize encouragement; don't let them give up. Keep them passionate and confident."

December 9, 2019

"Create a team environment where excellence is expected. Many kids will be experience that for the first time. Self-discipline, responsibility, accountability are all elements of excellence."

December 2, 2019

"It is important for a coach to identify what our sport is all about and what it takes to be successful. It's always been my notion that it takes just as much time to train and race half-assed and without discipline as it does to do it right. Spell this out for kids at the outset of each season and get them to commit to doing the job right. Because it is just that little extra effort - that extra concentration and focus - that separates winners from losers. It's such a small thing, really, but it has such huge positive consequences."

November 25, 2019

"Don't despair of an athlete, no matter how untalented he may be, if he is sincerely trying to improve. The striving may not produce the athlete, but it will produce the man."

November 18, 2019

"Many coaches yell at their athletes during competition, but I've had my own athletes warn me, 'If you ever yelled at us like that.....' I think we need to make the distinction between calling encouragement to the athlete and yelling at the athlete. Also if a coach offers mid-race advice, it should always be something the athlete can actually do, like, 'Move outside' to a runner in danger of being boxed, as opposed to 'Pick up your pace' to a runner who has already exceeded their ability and is just hanging on. If coaches are going to yell into the heart of a race, we need to be offering something positive. When we address our athletes at full volume, we need to choose our words carefully."

November 11, 2019

"Never ask an athlete to do something he doesn't have the ability or fitness to do. One of the worst things a coach can do is have an athlete 'fail' a workout. The athlete will either start doubting himself, or he'll doubt you as a coach."

November 4, 2019

"Compete fairly and honestly. Adhere to the unwritten laws of sportsmanship and fair play when you lead your athletes into competition. Otherwise, your attitude and behavior may result in a common, but rarely considered athletic injury, namely, an injury to their character, honor, or integrity."

October 28, 2019

"Athletes inspired to train hard and compete at their best own advantages for life that non-athletes may never have."

October 21, 2019

"It is important for coaches to regard the future more than the past, to attend to what still needs to be done, more than what has already been achieved."

October 14, 2019

"What is it that drives people? Success? Wealth? Fame? These are the obvious answers but late in life one looks back and sees that the driving force was always fulfillment: The knowledge that, with your life, you were able to achieve something or contribute something of value."

October 7, 2019

"There is only so much reverence to go around, and when we waste it on celebrities rather than achievers, society and civilization are in peril."

September 30, 2019

Fallacy #3: You must force athletes to do what they don't want to do.

Coerced athletes don't stay around. Keep training moderate and satisfying.

September 23, 2019

"Fallacy #2: What doesn't kill them makes them stronger.

Certainly not in the training of athletes. There is an optimal training stimulus and an optimal recovery period that will achieve the maximum improvement for each individual athlete within each training phase, within each stage of the athlete's development."

September 16, 2019

"Fallacy #1: If a particular training plan worked before, someplace else, it will work here now.

Training plans must be flexible to circumstances of place and personnel."

September 9, 2019

"Do not expect your athletes to be exceptional performers. Expect them to be exceptional strivers and exceptional teammates. Expect them to be of exceptional character, courage and accountability. If athletes meet those expectations of exceptionalism, performance will take care of itself."

September 2, 2019

"At the beginning of every season, clarify your expectations for your athletes. Expect enthusiasm, you will get enthusiasm. Expect leadership, you will get leadership. Expect teamwork, you will get teamwork. There will likely be some attrition in the first few weeks, but the athletes who remain will respond to you. Generally people are eager to learn and to better themselves, especially if they are having fun doing it."

August 26, 2019

"When coaches expect little from their athletes, invariably their athletes live down to those expectations. It is essential for coaches to verbalize high expectations as well as the means by which those high expectations will be achieved."

August 19, 2019

"People rarely ask enough of themselves though they are willing. They require only a leader with an expectation."

August 12, 2019

"As much as young people seek discipline and boundaries, so too do they seek someone who will expect something from them."

August 5, 2019

"Athletes perform up to or down to the expectations of their coaches. Your expectations establish the direction in which your team will go."

July 29, 2019

"Any athlete who strives for excellence, regardless of talent, is an athlete you want on your team. Ironically, the less the talent of your dedicated striver, often the greater inspiration to others."

July 22, 2019

"Excellence is a learned skill, not a natural one. It is the outgrowth of intense awareness, lofty intention, planned direction, conscious effort, skilled execution, and a consuming attention to detail."

July 15, 2019

"Coaching is not as much about gaining victories as it is about inspiring excellence. But if you inspire excellence, victories are sure to follow."

July 8, 2019

"To be an example is your most forceful influence, so be a good one. In all matters, strive to talk your talk and walk your walk. Don't be a situational good example."

July 1, 2019

" Your example sets the tone, justifies your leadership and clarifies your expectations. You have to work as hard or harder, and be as attentive to detail as you ask your athletes to be."

June 24, 2019

"Teaching may suggest what should be learned, but example determines what is learned."

June 17, 2019

"Upon arriving for a competition at an unfamiliar track, acquaint your athletes with how they might move about the facility without passing in front of photo-timers, crossing jump runways or aprons, or entering dangerous throwing areas. Athlete awareness of all that is going on around them is not just good manners that insure the orderly conduct of the meet, but also a potentially life-saving safety measure."

June 10, 2019

"Athletes of meager talent nevertheless share equally with abundantly talented athletes that which is most valuable in sport: the striving, the effort, the adversity, the discomfort, the anxieties, the setbacks. Spare no athlete the length and breadth of your coaching capacity. For every athlete experiences sport the same."

June 3, 2019

"Our gains in knowledge and experience, the pleasures of the practice field, the thrill of our athletes in competition, our joy in their success, the brotherhood of coaches, the opportunity to influence young lives, these are the enthusiasms of our maturity and the lasting memories of our dotage."

May 27, 2019

"Enthusiasm starts with the coach. If the coach is enthusiastic, the athletes will be enthusiastic, too. If the coach is not enthusiastic, he's in the wrong business. All our knowledge as coaches is useless without infecting our athletes with the enthusiasm to work."

May 20, 2019

"Coaches have every right to expect and demand effort from their athletes. They came to you. They knew what they were getting into. They understood it would not be all fun and games. Competitive sport is that, too, but the first requirement of sport is effort from all its participants, not just in their preparation for competition, but in the contest itself. Effort is part of it, and some suffering, too."

May 13, 2019

"Education should result in a freedom from the isms and dogmas of the world, and a passion for learning and truth. If it doesn't, it was not an education. It was brainwashing."

May 6, 2019

"Discipline elevates a team, uniting its members, bolstering the weak, and instilling pride and confidence in the uniform and each other."

April 29, 2019

"I find it a simple and useful principle to treat every person I meet as a customer of what I do not know, nor does it matter, but a customer, nonetheless. That doesn't mean I try to sell him something, only that I greet him with respect and try to provide him a valued service."

April 22, 2019

"To yield to conformity is the province of the meek. To stand tall with confidence in yourself and the rightness of your values is the posture of the courageous. Be an original not a copy."

April 15, 2019

"Confidence is a fragile state, never to be taken for granted in even our most 'solid' athletes. Coaches must constantly attempt to reinforce confidence if their athletes are to maintain a consistently high level of performance."

April 8, 2019

"In sport, athletes mimic nature's primordial principle: compete. In nature's competitions, however, first prize is frequently life; for the also-rans, often death. In sport, the consequences of competition are not so grim."

April 1, 2019

"All the credit belongs to the athletes. If they have the potential to win and the skill to execute, they likely will win. All we coaches can do is louse them up, and the best coaches among us dedicate themselves to not doing so."

March 25, 2019

"If we view competition as a contest against our opponents where, in order for us to succeed, we must impose defeat upon them, then we have created a negative environment. We are relieved if we win (because we, ourselves, have avoided defeat), disappointed if we lose. If, instead, we view competition as a contest with our opponents where, in order to succeed, we - all of us - must marshall our resources to perform at our absolute best, then we have created a positive environment. We - all of us - are uplifted and inspired to our best result independent of 'winning' or 'losing'. The positive environment yields the greatest satisfaction and enjoyment, sparking a love for competition that we can sustain for a lifetime."

March 18, 2019

"I think it's essential to say something to every athlete every day - preferably something positive or encouraging - to acknowledge each individual's presence and participation in practice. Athletes need and deserve to be recognized for their efforts. Everyone does."

March 11, 2019


Coaching Goals, a few ideas:

1. To see every athlete improve over the course of the season;

2. To see every athlete reach his or her potential;

3. To see the team reach its full potential;

4. To make the processes of goal setting, training and competing as instructive and as enjoyable as possible;

5. To stay injury-free;

6. To aid in the development of character and personal values in your students;

7. To create life-long athletes."

March 4, 2019

"There are, above all, two enduring qualities that coaches should impart to their athletes: standards and independence."

February 25, 2019

"Coaching is about teaching young people to compete and to believe in themselves. It is about giving them an identity - athlete - that they can build on. It is about growing their self-confidence for the next stage of their lives. It is about helping athletes to be the best they can be."

February 18, 2019

"The way I see it, coaches should strive to make themselves unnecessary; to provide their athletes with the knowledge, confidence, perspective, skills and tools to guide their own training and racing should the need arise, just as other teachers strive to make themselves non-essential to their students' continuing education. The coach should never become a crutch."

February 11, 2019

"Authority is best earned by competence, best exercised with affection, and best employed to bring out the best in those over whom you have authority."

February 4, 2019

"As a coach, you should convince your athletes that they are better athletes than they really are. Not a lot better, just a little better. If they believe in you, they will believe the more in themselves, perform beyond their expectations and you will be judged a prophet."

January 28, 2019

"Every athlete deserves respect, acceptance, and a listening ear. But every athlete must come to understand that success doesn't come easily, that it must be earned."

January 21, 2019

"Coaches teach young people perseverance, patience, discipline, teamwork, and the value of hard work. Coaches prepare the foundations for successful adults. Their's is serious business."

January 14, 2019

"You are not here merely to win. You are here to influence an athlete's lifestyle, to teach your students to be better animals. You are here to teach your students the value and rewards of effort of perseverance, of patience and achievement. You are acquainting your students with their bodies, with their need for physical work and recovery. You are teaching them the rules of health and fitness that will raise the quality of their lives. You will never realize the true satisfaction of coaching if you fail to grasp those truths."

January 7, 2019

"Teach your athletes to be self-sufficient on days of competition, so that they can prepare themselves without you, warmup without you, compete without you, cooldown and recover without you. Make your athletes own their competitions, and you will find yourself preparing champions."

December 31, 2018

"Beware of transitions in your training plan, those necessary changes of emphasis: low mileage to high mileage, slow training to fast training, flat running to hill running, grass or trails to track or road, training shoes to racing flats to spikes to bare feet. Potential injuries lurk at transition points. Ease into transitions gradually or avoid them altogether by including a little bit of everything every week. 'Every shoe, every surface, every speed, every week' is a good motto."

December 24, 2018

I used to think of coaching as achieving success by developing kids. But I have learned that it is the other way around. Coaching is developing kids through achieving success. The goal is the development of young adults: his confidence, her self-respect, his self-reliance, her self-discipline, their sense of the importance of being a good teammate, their acceptance of responsibility and leadership. The means to that goal is to reveal, then demonstrate the path to success. One way or another, in order to develop the emerging adult, the athlete must experience success, however you choose to define it: by growth, by improvement, or by winning.

December 17, 2018

Coaches are full-time teachers, psychologists, disciplinarians, mentors, role models, cheerleaders, recruiters, story-tellers and organizers.They are part-time parents, babysitters, chauffeurs, health-care providers, fund raisers and public relations flacks. Each of us fills some of these roles better than others, and individual athletes have differing views of our effectiveness in each of those roles. So accept the fact that you are differently abled and differently appreciated and just do the best you can.

December 10, 2018

Be they male or female, real competitors are often said to be 'beasts', which is meant as a compliment. But when you refer to 14-year old Sally as a beast, Sally's mother may require further explanation.

December 3, 2018

Coaches of young athletes should aspire to teach a love of effort and competition independent of immediate results. Coaches should aspire to build a habit and cheerful expectation for the daily work that will advance their athletes' goals. Coaches should aspire to teach commitment and persistence as a lifelong strategy for success. They should highlight each 'win' along the way, no matter how small, in terms of a life lesson that will have future application. None of this is easy. It requires of the coach a perspective that extends far beyond the next race.

November 26, 2018

Don't try to be a friend to your athletes. They already have friends. They need someone to teach them, to inspire them, to train them, and to reveal to them the path to success. That's your job.

November 19, 2018

Believe in your athletes. Let them know you believe in them. Good things will result regardless of the results actually achieved.

November 12, 2018

Talk to your athletes. But, unless they ask, talk to them as little as possible about their event. Talk to them about important things.