Premortem Technique: A Game-Changer for Every Coach

Coaches using the Premortem technique.

Have you ever wondered how a coach can enhance their team strategy with a futuristic mindset? Discover the intriguing Premortem technique, designed by psychologist Gary Klein, which helps coaches foresee potential pitfalls and adjust plans accordingly.

Read more: Premortem Technique: A Game-Changer for Every Coach

The Core of a Coach’s Vision

Every diligent coach devises a clear strategy for offense, defense, and transitioning plays, meticulously tailored to the strengths of the team. But, crucially, how foolproof is this strategy? What if opponents unexpectedly outshine our predictions?

Understanding the Premortem Technique

To safeguard against unforeseen challenges, the Premortem emerges as an indispensable tool. In essence, it’s an exercise in proactive thinking: visualizing what could falter even before commencing. Astonishingly, many teams often lack a contingency plan, primarily because they’re reticent to entertain the possibility of failures.

A Vivid Illustration from the Business World

Picture this: The CEO summons her staff for a crucial meeting right before launching a significant initiative. Upon assembling, she candidly declares, “The project has catastrophically failed. Enlighten me on what went awry.” Naturally, her team, caught off guard, argues that the project hasn’t even commenced yet. However, her intention was crystal clear: compelling the team to brainstorm potential pitfalls, thereby equipping them to devise a nimble ‘Plan B’ if worst-case scenarios materialize.

Endorsement from a Nobel Laureate and Research Backing

Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize recipient, elucidates the merits of the Premortem technique in this enlightening video: [].

Notably, a 1989 study conducted by Deborah J. Mitchell, Jay Russo, and Nancy Pennington revealed that envisaging an event as if it has already transpired amplifies the accuracy of predicting future outcomes by a staggering 30%. Such insights cement the Premortem as an invaluable tool for coaches, especially at the season’s onset or post-winter hiatus.

Practical Implementation in Sports

Initiate by assembling your team in a conference room. Start off with a candid revelation: the existing strategy is floundering. We’re constantly being outpaced, accruing losses, teetering on the brink of relegation, or perilously close to forfeiting a championship. Over the next few minutes, every team member jots down every conceivable reason for this envisioned debacle. Post this, each member reads out a distinct reason from their list. Post-session, the coach evaluates these insights, refining the strategy accordingly.

The Double-Edged Sword of the Premortem

While the Premortem serves as an invaluable reflective tool, it demands resilience and introspection on the coach’s part. While optimism about strategies is the default stance, an occasional dose of realism can be a game-changer.


Embracing realism can sometimes be more beneficial than sheer optimism. The Premortem technique, with its future-oriented perspective, empowers coaches to address potential pitfalls head-on, ensuring that their teams are better prepared for any eventuality.



Mitchell, Deborah & Russo, J. & Pennington, Nancy. (1989). Back to the future: Temporal perspective in the explanation of events. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. 2. 25 – 38. 10.1002/bdm.3960020103.

Holiday, R. (2015). The obstacle is the way: The ancient art of turning adversity to advantage. Profile Books.

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