As the Superbowl approaches this weekend, it got me thinking about the importance of preparation and how well prepared these two teams will be.

They have had 2 weeks for their army of coaches to analyse the opposition, watching hours, and hours of film tape, looking for weaknesses, opportunities and the keys to success.

They will know their opponents inside out and will have an excellently defined game plan, where each player will know exactly what he has to do.

However, whilst I believe this preparation is massively important, and doubt that any team could win without it,  will it be enough.

Given that American Football is a collision sport, this means that the well known quote “no battle plans survive contact with the enemy” is very likely to apply.

This is where the teams will need flexibility in order to be able to adapt, improvise and overcome.

Flexibility can be prepared too, giving the teams different options for different situations, through contingency planning. The more things the teams have examined and prepared for the more flexibility they will have.

Contingency planning needs to be part of the preparation, planning for what to do when things go wrong. Looking at as many scenarios as possible, no matter how unlikely.

I remember a play-off game from a few years ago when Green Bay were the playing Seattle at Green Bay, and within 2 minutes Green Bay were 14-0 down, this was clearly not part of their game plan.

After just two minutes the Green Bay game plan was in tatters and they would need to go with plan B, C or even plan Z.

If teams get over confident, believing all the hype about themselves, then often this contingency planning may not be performed, and this is how shock upsets defeats happen.

The favourites were over confident and didn’t give enough respect to their opponents.

This was highlighted this weekend in the soccer when several lower league teams were able to beat Premier League opposition in the FA Cup.

Whilst the premier league teams had game plans, they were clearly not prepared mentally as they were over confident, and they were not prepared tactically as they had no plan B for the situations they found themselves in.

Everyone is affected by pressure, and when our plans don’t work this pressure can escalate very quickly, and this is not the time to de defining plans, this is the time for implementing plans we have already prepared for just such a scenario.

Having these contingency plans allows us to remain calm and focus on implementation.

If we don’t have these plans, then we can see a mix of pressure and panic, which is not a recipe for success.

As leaders it is our responsibility to ensure success and therefore it is our responsibility to ensure that the contingency planning is performed.

Ultimately, we may not need it, but its better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Preparation is not just about coming up with one excellent Game Plan, it’s also about preparing multiple plans in order to give the team the flexibility to cope with any scenario they may face.