For legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a football game is a little like going to war.
In a rare interview, Belichick spoke with CNBC contributor Suzy Welch about a range of topics, including his leadership tips and career highlights, and revealed how he deals with the enormous pressure of making tough calls during live football games.
"I think General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower put it pretty well," he says. "A battle plan is great until you actually get into the battle. Then it doesn't mean anything."
Be well-prepared and able to adjust
Belichick says you have to try to figure out what your opponent will do next in order to win. "You have a game plan," he explains. "You see what your opponent's doing, where they make an adjustment to what you're doing, and then you have to change."
Having that kind of adaptability is what's led him to five Super Bowl wins as head coach of the Patriots, including his last one in February. He's humble about it, though. "My job as a coach is to make good decisions," he says. "It's not to go out there and block or tackle."
Belichick also says that preparation is everything in order to do well under pressure. "If you're well-prepared, you know what you're doing, and you have an idea what the opponents can do — what their strengths and weaknesses are — once you get into the game those adjustments will be, I won't say easy, but relatively easier and more manageable."
It's also key that each individual on the team understands the plan in order to react under any circumstance. "Things happen so quickly. We don't have time for one person to tell everybody what to do," he says. "Everybody needs to know what to do in those situations. That's when you're prepared."
If everything goes correctly, says the coach, then the plan should work. "You try to make sure that everybody's on the same page," Belichick adds. "It comes down to execution."
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