The Parable of the Buses


This parable was inspired by the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.

There were two buses, both going to the same destination. One bus was a rickety old yellow school bus; the other bus was a beautiful new air-conditioned motor coach. The old yellow bus was driven by a veteran bus driver who was familiar with the area and knew the destination because he had been there many times before. The other was a modern bus driven by a young driver who had just passed the test to be certified as a bus driver. He was new to the area and had never been to the destination before. He was confident because someone sitting in the back of the bus had told him how to get there. Incidentally they were both leaving at 5:00PM, the height of rush hour, and they had to be there by 7:00PM. The old bus driver had an alternate route ready if he needed it, the new bus driver didn’t even think about it.

On the yellow bus everyone was in assigned sets, the yellow shirts in the yellow seats, the blue shirts in the blue seats and the red shorts sat in the red seats. On the new bus everyone sat where they wanted, in fact two people were late and the bus waited for them. The yellow bus had a specific address and estimated time of arrival. He knew the route and the alternative route. The big new bus was depending on someone in the back of the bus for directions, that person had never been to the destination before. The driver was so confident he did not even have a map! He did not need to because he had had his GPS and he was fully certified in directional awareness by the GPS Company.

The old yellow bus arrived at the destination with fifteen minutes to spare. The alternate route he had planned had almost no traffic during rush hour. The new modern bus was ninety minutes late. First they were stuck in rush hour traffic, and then the driver turned off on what he thought was an alternate route that turned out to be the opposite direction. They both made it.

The moral of the story get everyone on the bus on time, make sure they are all in the correct seats, above all have a driver that knows the directions and preferably has been there before!

In designing a training program, lesson plan or therapy plan remember this story. Be sure you know the destination and if you have never been there before talk to someone who has. Find out how they made the trip. Have a detailed roadmap and make sure it is current. Don’t over rely on technology, follow you instincts. Have a contingency plan if the first route proves unmanageable. Simply plan the work and work the plan.

In conclusion which bus have you been on? The old yellow school bus may not be as comfortable but it will get you there with time to spare.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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