Blog: This Drill's Name Won't Help You in Court

During a preseason basketball workout at Guilford College, where I served as AD - this was in 1965 - one of our highly touted basketball players collapsed during a conditioning drill. Later that night, our coach, who had been very concerned about the situation, came to see me and let me know that the player had recovered after the "scare" he gave everyone. I asked him what drill was the one that resulted in the player collapsing. He replied, "The Suicide Drill."

"If the injury resulted in a lawsuit," I asked him, "how do you think a jury would have reacted to hearing that drill's name?" We mutually agreed to change the name of the drill, and from that day on, it became "The Transition Drill."

To this day, coaches from every level of sport still refer to the universal drill as the "Suicide Drill," or "Suicides." You can even find it described positively on various websites. The Suicide Drill is not the only drill with a terminology problem, legally speaking. A popular and successful Division I-A football coach was taken to court over an injury that was attributed to what he called "The Hamburger Drill." When I conducted conditioning drills in college, the players referred to it as the "Death Run." Later on, I realized the negative implications of the drill and changed the name.

Today, when I speak at coaching clinics to coaches and athletic directors, I caution them to avoid such negative implications. As coaches and athletic directors, do yourself a favor: Review the names of your drills, and change the names that can lead to problems. "Oklahoma" is a much better name than "Hamburger."

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