From The Super Bowl To High School: How To Be A "Pro's Pro" With Trent Dilfer

From The Super Bowl To High School: How To Be A “Pro’s Pro” With Trent Dilfer

Trent Dilfer has done a lot of incredible things in his career. He is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and was on ESPN as an analyst for many years. His newest challenge? Building a successful football program at a small private high school outside of Nashville. Dilfer took the time to speak at the 2020 AFCA Convention in Nashville to talk about what he’s doing to build the program’s success.

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It didn’t take long in his session for him to make a point about why he coaches. The purpose of his coaching. It comes from this,

Every coach wants to make an impact. It’s part of the job. You are going to have an influence on young people if you are a football coach. He wants to have an impact that sets up his players to be successful well beyond the football field.

How does he do this? He strives to create a program that had the same type of identity that the Ravens did when they reached the pinnacle of football, a Super Bowl Championship. It was a team of “Pro’s”. It’s widely talked about, the idea of a “pro’s pro” but what does that actually mean?

 This all resonates with the idea of doing good, not just sounding good. It matters to a professional. The idea, according to Dilfer, is to live differently, in a manner that causes others to want to join. This is where the inspiration behind the team’s mantra of “Be Set Apart” comes from. Be Set Apart has 2 main pillars to it:

  1. Do hard things.
  2. Be uncomfortable.

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With the idea that we are trying to positively influence young people, doing hard things is paramount. Doing hard things breeds confidence. Setting lofty goals and striving to reach them breeds confidence. Doing hard things also helps you accomplish the second pillar. Be uncomfortable.

“I believe the edge of uncomfortable is where you find greatness.”

The discussion transitioned to leadership and how Dilfer and his staff strive to lead and what they are looking to develop in the program. They want thermostat leaders.

If there is one big thing to take away from this session, let it be this. The idea that as a leader you need to control what you can control. The idea that thermostat leaders will take whatever is going on, and change it. The idea that you will be proactive, not reactive.


But becoming a thermostat leader doesn’t happen overnight. You need a goal to strive for, something tangible to help guide you on the way. Which is where the idea of EEAF came from. Dilfer talks about the acronym that his family has used for years to help them keep their eyes set on what’s important.

  • Energy
  • Effort
  • Attitude
  • Focus

While the first three are pretty straight forward, let us focus on the fourth for a moment. Focus. The idea that you own the moment. However, Dilfer has a different approach to it. The understanding that it is not wise to not expect people, especially young people, to not lose focus from time to time. But it is important to be able to get them to be able to refocus themselves on what’s important. All this to say, how Dilfer trains leaders is through the idea of,

“The way you do small things is how you do all things.”

You should absolutely watch the session in its entirety. Dilfer shared countless nuggets and points of emphasis about how he strives to lead kids towards winning life. While the goal is to win some football games along the way, winning in life is much more important.

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