Frank Martin: 'If one person lets go of the rope, your team is done'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday March 27, 2017


South Carolina’s run to the Final Four has been fueled by the motto “Don’t let go of the rope,” something Frank Martin brought up late in the season.

The Gamecocks have trailed in three of four NCAA Tournament games this year, but outscored opponents by 54 total points in the second halves. On Sunday, they trailed Florida by seven, but won by seven. Martin joined Mike & Mike on Monday morning and said there’s no secret to it. It’s about how they work and hold onto the rope.

I’ve always said this: People who complain of tired legs usually sit on the couch too much. The guys that go and are in great shape, they’re always wired to go,” Martin said. “We do that. We’ve created a motto with this team, saying, ‘Don’t let go of the rope.’ And they haven’t let go. I don’t care how hard the game gets, the kids hold onto that rope as hard as they can.”

On Feb. 7, the Gamecocks lost at home to Alabama in a 4-overtime game. They won the next game at Mississippi State, but lost the next three, giving them four L’s in five games.

Martin said he had to change to mindset to fix the slide. He used a simple example of a tug of war, and when facing adversity, they haven't let go.

“Our guys, I could tell they were a little shell-shocked,” Martin said. “I told them, ‘Hey men, we haven’t been practicing as well. We obviously lost a couple games. So we’re dealing with adversity. Adversity is part of the deal. It’s not all roses. There will be difficult moments in every season every year of your life.’

“I asked them if any of them had been in a tug of war. Some guys said yes, some laughed, some had no idea what I was talking about. I said, ‘This is the way a tug of war starts. You have two groups of people pulling in opposite directions. Sometimes, your side starts getting pulled in the wrong direction. Every once in a while, somebody lets go of the rope, and if one person lets go of the rope, your team is done. It’s over, and you’re going over the line. The whole thing here is I don’t care how difficult it gets, you have to hold onto that rope.’

“That was something I shared with them at that moment, and they kind of took it to heart. We use it in huddles, we talk about it in the locker room. I don’t know if it helps us in the second half, but those kids aren’t letting go of that rope.”

South Carolina faces Gonzaga in the Final Four on Saturday night.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.