Bill Belichick details his 'less is more' philosophy on coaching staffs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was a guest on Paul Rabil’s inaugural “Suiting Up” podcast, as the lacrosse-based connection between the two led to a 45-minute conversation on management, coaching philosophy and more.

For example, Belichick annually has one of the smallest coaching staffs in the NFL. Why?

“My philosophy, really, is that less is more, so I’d rather have fewer people doing more work than more people doing a little more work,” Belichick tells Rabil on the podcast. “As long as everybody is busy, as long as everybody feels productive, they feel good about what they’re doing and they feel like they’re contributing; I think when people have lag time and kind of not enough to do, that leads to getting distracted and complaining or being less productive. So even though you have more people, sometimes less work gets done.”

This is also tied to Belichick’s messaging to the team.

“From a ‘getting everybody on the same page’ standpoint, which is critical, the fewer people you have to manage, the easier it is to get everybody on the same page,” he says on the podcast. “So if you’re talking to 10 people, it’s hard to get all 10 people doing the same thing or doing the right thing. Now you make that number 20, instead of 10, it’s even more difficult.

“If you have five people supervising another 15 people, now you have another layer there where you’re not dealing directly with everybody, and now you’re somewhat dependent on other people to relay the message the way you want it done and to monitor it that way. Certainly, there’s a degree of that, but as much of that I can eliminate, I think works better for me.”

Belichick talked to Rabil about the differences between overseeing specific departments (e.g. medical, video, training, sports science etc.) that aren’t “in the football coaching manual” and actual hands-on coaching. The coaching, Belichick said, “comes easy” and is “fun.”

Other topics included the frequency of organizational meetings; what Belichick looks for in players; team culture; short-term focus; coaching Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor; how the saying “put it in the drawer” has become a motto of sorts in the second half of seasons; what books he reads; and more.

The podcast interview was completed before the NFL draft, as the team’s offseason program was beginning.

Belichick stressed the importance of the team’s work at this time, saying it “has a lot to do with what happens in November and December, so when you take these days off, there is a price to pay some time down the road in terms of where your team is.”