ASU head coach of sports performance Shawn Griswold has a secret to his success.
Is it a special lifting technique? No. A secret regimen? No. It’s something much more human.
“If I (had) to say, it (would be) relationships and getting kids to know you care about them,” Griswold said.
Griswold played football at Utah State University, and it was there, from his mentor Milt White, that he learned the value of developing relationships with the players he would later come to coach.
Griswold went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 1996 and master’s of science degree in 1998 from Utah State.
When Griswold finally came to ASU after stints at Tulsa and Pittsburgh, where he served with coach Todd Graham, he was impressed with the speed and athleticism he saw from the Sun Devil players. But there was still something missing: discipline.
Changing the culture of a team can be a tough task, but getting the players to buy in to the new program wasn’t a problem for Griswold.
“It really wasn’t bad at all,” Griswold said. “For the most part we didn’t really have any challenges and those that were (challenges), that didn’t make it, well they’re not here anymore.”
During that time, Griswold started to develop his close relationships with some of the players. It’s that closeness that allows him to push players like redshirt junior Devilbacker Carl Bradford.
“He always gives me words of advice and things like that,” Bradford said. “To have that relationship is pretty special. … I like that I can sort of go to him and sort of get my mind right in a sense.”
Redshirt junior right tackle Tyler Sulka likes the fact that he can go to Griswold just to talk.
“He’s a really good guy. You can go to him and talk to him about anything,” Sulka said. “I like him a lot, because he’s close with me, and he tells me what I need to work on, and if I need to get better, what I need to do.”
The familiarity Griswold has allows him not only to be close to the players but also to push them harder in the weight room.
“If I know my guys better, then I know when they’re having good days and bad days,” Griswold said. “If Carl (Bradford) walks in and I know something’s not right, I have the ability to go ask him, ‘Hey what’s going on? You’re not the same today.’”
Griswold, who recently received a contract extension that will see him with the Sun Devils until at least 2018, said being on good terms with his players his crucial to their success.
“If you just come in a room and throw weights on the board and you just go and you don’t talk to guys and don’t build that relationship, you’re not going to get nearly as much out of them,” Griswold said. ” … I think you can coach them as hard as you want, as long as you care about them.”
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