The E + R = O System

How I Explain It to Players, Parents or Individuals Who Have Never Heard of It

Hey everyone with Sam with The Overtime Network. This series will also be up in podcast format on National Sports Overtime. We’re going to be starting a series based on the E + R = O system that Tim Kight came up with and the Discipline system. I’m gonna try to break it down like I’m talking to someone who has no clue about what they have gotten themselves into. What this system does and the reason why I use it with any team I’m coaching or any work group or with any individual around even myself. Number one because it works, but number two, once you get to thinking like that, then it really comes alive. It just becomes something that’s part of you because you need to learn how to take ownership of the one thing that you can control. YOURSELF and YOUR responses.

So, let’s start off, I want to break this down for you guys. E + R = O and when I talk to players about this that is how I start showing it to them like a math equation. E stands for the event. Plus the R stands for response. Which equals the thing we all want the O standing for the outcome. A lot of coaches sometimes just call it the R Factor to shorten it because that is the meat of it. However with me sometimes coaching high school to middle school players then I stay with the math formula even though I’m not any good at them.

The Event Example 

Let’s give an example. So, I’m going to talk about a high school in my area. It’s Herbert Hoover High School and what I have saw happen to their football team in the last two years and what I’ve seen happen to their community. I don’t know how many years ago I think it was three or four. They had an E happen in their area. You know we discuss it above an event. An event is usually something you can’t control and it was definitely something they could not control. The River that runs right by their high school flooded the whole area. It flooded their school, their fields and their storage areas. The flood literally washed away dugouts and bleachers. It ruined their equipment, their football uniforms and helmets. The River was HIGH inside their school ruining everything from desks to books to their ductwork controlling their heating and cooling. Once the floodwaters receded. Remember I said it’s the E (Event=The Flood) + R (Response). See the Response is what you can control.

The Response Example

So what is your response about this? The television crews went up there it showed many people angry and upset. They show so many of the town crying because of the pictures and antiques that were ruined. Two years ago, Coach Joey Fields came into the Hoover community as their new Head Football Coach. His response wasn’t gee, I don’t want to coach here. I would say about 85–90% of their football equipment was ruined by this flood not to mention the football field. He didn’t say oh poor us. We don’t even have a field. No way we can win any games. Just be constantly griping about the flood so his players would be doing it too. NOPE that’s not Coach Joey Fields. His response was to be intentional about the way he thought, the way he made his decisions and the actions he took that his players saw him model for them. And they had dirtier equipment. His response could have been. This is awful. Oh poor us. We don’t even have a field, and just constantly griping. It wasn’t though, because his response was to be intentional about how he thought, how he made his decisions and how he acted around his players modeling the behavior he wanted them to do.

The Outcome Example

The O stands for Outcome. Last year which was Coach Joey Fields’ first year and they were pretty good in a Covid shortened season going 5–3. They made it to the second round of playoffs. This year they are already 3–0 and ranked fourth in the state as of today. They actually have a scary football team this year, scary as in good and you don’t want to play them. I’ll be willing to bet you if they don’t get hit with Covid, they will make the playoffs and probably go far in them. How far? That’s up to Coach Fields and his players. 

The key to producing the Outcomes you want whether it be wins, getting a project done at work, coming back from an injury, or even cleaning the house it isn’t the Event or the circumstances that you encounter. It’s how you choose to Respond. So in order to get better Outcomes in whatever you’re seeking, it requires you, your group or your team to have better Responses from the people that are involved. Your performance or Outcome is really determined with how you (Yourself) manages the Response to the Event. To get better responses from yourself or your team or your work group then you need to strengthen the culture you are building. If you are doing it within yourself then you want to strengthen your beliefs, your values and what you will and won’t stand for. You want to take personal ownership of how you respond in order to improve your productivity and efficiency in doing certain actions. If I’m a basketball coach so I need my players to respond better when they get a foul called on them. By them not getting upset or stomping around then they will have better productivity on the basketball court. They have to realize that people make mistakes and mistakes are how we learn. Read that again. By having a better Response to the Event then they aren’t looking to get a player back or counting on a referee to pay them back in the future. Just by cutting all that nonsense out we have better efficiency to get into the game. I teach this by the three clap method. Anything I coach when a mistake (Event) is made then you have three claps to get over it and go onto the next play. It’s over and done already. Let’s learn from our mistake and move on. If you train yourself then sometimes (smile and a wink) you can do it. Now I’ve also saw coaches use the rubber bands on the wrist method. They snap it, feel that jolt and say to themselves or to teammates I need to concentrate on the next play or I’m going to get better. How you Respond accelerates the change into better Outcomes whether it be in your life or in your team. But you have to accelerate some kind of change in order to get a different Outcome or a better Outcome. We’ve all heard that if we aren’t getting better then we are getting worse.

The BCDs

I know, I know I have to explain what in the world the BCDs are. I’m not leaving you behind. But watch you’ll be calling them the BCDs too. You are going to want everyone to know them and minimize them. B is for Blaming, C is for Complaining and D is for Defensiveness. You have to minimize these in yourself or your team to change your Responses to Events. It’s about making excuses, saying that’s not my fault or getting defensive about something before you even think it through. Notice I didn’t say eliminate. You’re human. You are going to do them.

I’ve always found that I can minimize my BCDs by having a person who I am close enough to and that I trust a lot that I can use as a sounding board. That may not be my best friend. Now let me explain why you don’t want to use close friends. Close or best friends will a lot of times tell you what you want to hear. They’ll agree with you because you are friends and don’t want to fight or argue about something they may or may not care about. Maybe they’re in the same situation but in a little bit different light so they are truthful with themselves or you. They’ll want to compare situations or talk about that one time they did whatever kinda like you. Maybe they don’t have your best interests at heart because this solution is better for them, not you. You don’t need anyone that is going to intensify your blaming, complaining, or defensiveness. You want to have someone that you do trust and that you may or may not see all the time. Maybe another coach or a mentor that is not your boss. You want them to have experience in what you are going through so you don’t have to explain every little thing.

My Own Example

Some of you may or may not know that I coached at one point in my life on both the high school and middle school levels in many different sports. I was 19 years old as a head coach of a middle school program. The only time I was an assistant was to a coach who I think of as a mentor and he’s one of the best coaches in our state currently. May break the state record for wins this year or next year. I got out of coaching awhile to do some other things, but two years ago I was asked to become an assistant coach for someone not my mentor and last head coach I worked for. Quickly, I found it extremely hard to be an assistant coach after being a head coach for so long then being out of the game only to step back into an assistant’s role. I didn’t think it would be that hard. So I needed some sounding boards quick before my mother disowned me and other friends put me on a permanent screen calls lists.

Well my two sounding boards which I told them that’s exactly what they were became two ex-players of mine that I had continued having a bond with. One of which I won a State Championship with which bonded us together forever. He and I talk ball all the time even before me going back to coaching. The other one I had known since she was 13 years old and had played middle school basketball, ran hurdles, softball and played high school volleyball for me when I was coaching back in the day. After this experience with both of them, I think they both need to get into or back into coaching or helping kids in some way. I used them the whole season to run things by. Or really to make my Response better hoping to get better Outcomes. They both knew basketball, the world I was in and both knew how I was or could be, so that’s all I needed.

Sounding Boards

I would tell them, “Hey, this is my issue with my team. This is my issue with myself. This is my issue with administration. This is my issue with my head coach.” Sometimes they were already interrupting me with please tell me you didn’t do whatever and I would say hmm…I did. Then they would tell me what they thought or I would ask is this the right response or not? Sometimes they were actually at the game to see or wanted a step by step description of the situation and my Response to the Event. But they always gave me their best advice and even though I fought them sometimes they still had the best interest of my team in their mind. I feel like both know me and know that I want the players put first. They definitely weren’t afraid to call me on things, mostly on my BCD days. Just like they did as players. I would talk to them separately, but it was funny they both usually came up with the same solutions. I learned a lot about myself from the current players, but also my sounding boards.

One of my sounding boards listened to me whine about whatever for about 2 minutes and then just said can you change that? Well, no. Then why are you wasting my time talking about it, so shut up about it. That’s how blunt and honest they were with me and that’s when I truly learn the Response to Events Changes Outcomes. It did change how I coached or at least looked at things. At one point towards the end of the season, I was extremely upset, disappointed and flat out mad like wanting to shake someone mad. I talked to them both that day. Both could tell instantly that I was angry. Believe me as a young coach they both knew anger with me. When I told one of them what I was angry about the response was so you’re quitting? I was like…what? Both knew me as a coach and a person so well and knew that I trusted them completely to tell me the truth. The sounding board responded with it’s time for you to quit. I responded with why…the season isn’t over yet. It floored me that they would think I needed to quit. It was the exact shock I needed to get through the season and make a change. 

My sounding board said this is all you’ve complained about the second half of the season. You are blaming people and you are getting defensive with anyone who suggest anything to you like have you tried this or tried that. You’re not happy and I bet your players aren’t either. You can’t change it and you know it, so why don’t you quit? I said well, I don’t want to quit. This is something I’ve had a passion to do since I was 12-13 years old. I worked with the high school coach to learn basketball coaching from scouting to breaking down film to teach how to set a screen. Why on Earth now that I’m back in it would I quit? The response was then this is an obstacle and you need to get over it, under it, get around it or go through it. You have to do something on YOUR end. That’s the only thing you control. The other sounding board didn’t tell me to quit like that, but might as well have. They got to read me the riot act too. So a discussion started about having different responses or staying away from what was triggering me to get so upset and angry. 

Changing Responses

See when certain Events happen and you know this event is going to happen or happen again then you have to change your Response. You’ll get a different Outcome. That’s what I had to do. A lot of times it’s about communication with yourself, your team, your coaches, your players’ parents or your administration. Doing that may lead to having better teamwork, better relationships with your players or their parents or whoever. Just some kind of communication. You need to come up with your own terminology that you are going to use with everyone even yourself, so everyone is on the same page. I always used Tim Kight’s 20 square feet other than the fact I have no clue how much it was. So I used about 3–4 feet when I was coaching. If I was a coach today, right this second, then I may used the social distancing 6 foot rule because it has been drilled into everyone’s head. You put yourself in a 3–4 foot bubble around you. That’s your ownership sphere and how you respond in that bubble is what can determine the performance of yourself and ultimately our team. Inside the bubble is your Response and where you have Impact. If someone in those 3–4 feet the how are you going to Respond to that?

If I’m offensive lineman in football, someone is almost always in my bubble, so what is going to be my Response? Well it’s going to be determined in the huddle whether a run or pass was called. I will either run block or pass block, but what if you get called for holding? Then what is your Response in your bubble? Throw a temper tantrum, shove the other player down, ask for help, or go back and do it right/better. See how no matter the Event you have to have a Response. If the other team’s linebacker is jumping up and down like on a pogo stick, I have to realize that it’s not within my bubble…my ownership sphere. I only can control my bubble and not Respond to their bubble. That will help me to know how I can achieve better Outcomes. I don’t Respond to Events outside of my bubble that way that linebacker jumping up and down doesn’t effect my or my team’s Outcome. 

Think about how many times has your best friend been 6 feet away or more and you have told them something that they didn’t hear because they were playing with their phone. How many times have you told your best friend to do something and they haven’t did it or don’t want to talk about it? They ignore what you have said. Well remember, once outside of your bubble then you have no control and very little impact in reality. Now you may tell them over and over and over and they may eventually understand or do it, but most of the time they don’t. 

Behaviors and Discipline

Remember when you are using this on yourself or your team. That a successful behavior is intentional, on purpose and it’s skill driven. We’re going to be talking a lot about discipline. I hope to have a podcast episode and mostly of the time an article on it. When I use the word discipline, I don’t mean punishment. We’re talking about being self-disciplined, holding yourself or your team accountable for their Responses, and talking about getting better at goal setting. We don’t want to be Default-Driven because then we have a tendency to act impulsive, be on auto-pilot or we’re resistant to change. So with this new series that I hope to create is how you operate with discipline by your Responses to Event in order to get the Outcome we want. We will talk about accountability and how to take ownership of ourselves or our teams. Also we want to be prepared for different events in our games or our lives and what the Responses are going to be in order to get the Outcome we need or want. 

Teams and individuals need clear communication which is something I think as a society we are getting better at and worse at. They are a lot of people that want to show off all the words they know and therefore they speak at a higher level that what they need to sometimes longer than they should. With this article, I hope you can hear me talking to you. I’m not writing with perfect grammar or big words. I want everyone to understand it without listening to the podcast episode and trying to figure out my accent. In a lot of ways, society is getting better at communicating clearer because of Twitter. You’re only allowed about 280 characters. You have to learn to make your thoughts shorter, clearer and concise. As a coach you definitely want to be doing that in game situations. Clear, concise and quick, but your players need to learn to understand it, internalize it and communicate back. You can’t allow yourself or your players to operate on Default. They will go back to being impulsive when they don’t know how to react or go back to their old habits because that’s what was comfortable. They will get stuck into ruts and comfortable routines. 

So let’s talk about being comfortable with the uncomfortable. I’ve had to do this all my life. So you have to find a way to connect this to them. One of the things I used to use in basketball was the zig-zag drill. I think every basketball coach knows this drill…going from baseline corner to foul line using some move to cross over then going from foul line to half court use a cross over move on and on and on. Instead get them going as fast as they can doing that drill to get them used to being comfortable with the uncomfortable. You should have balls flying all over your gym. It will take some time but they will get the hang of going fast and doing their different cross over maneuvers. Then you add a defender to get them to learn to play defense against someone going that fast and for the dribbler to get used to dribbling with a person guarding them. Again you should have balls flying all over the place. Do NOT punish them. Mistakes are how we learn. When you see them in a game blow by someone with a hesitation move into a between the legs crossover then it will amaze you, but won’t faze them because they are comfortable. It will take time. How much? Depends on the age and skill level. Some adults are scared to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I know I am sometimes. You just have to get them to keep trying uncomfortable things and being comfortable when Events happen. If you need ideas, I’m sure we can come up with someway to make them comfortable being uncomfortable. Write me at or hit me up on Twitter @NatSportsOT

 So how about we just end on that note. We’ll hopefully talk about obstacles in our way tomorrow. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this and hopefully get better. The rest should be shorter, but no promises. I like to ramble on with ideas. Don’t forget to check out for other articles and all the different podcasts. I will be talking to you guys soon and hopefully someday I will see you down the road.

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