Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

“Unity! Pride!! TOTAL Effort!!!”

Posted by admin September - 21 - 2016 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

I am reminded each time I see young people today about how our culture is “trying” to teach our youth to just be average. How to be apathetic. How to be fearful. But then I get around athletes (football players, anyway) and I am once again reminded of the impact that athletics CAN (not always does!) have on building character and teaching young men that striving for excellence in ALL that they do is honorable and the best way to conduct their lives.

I spoke to the team at the public school where I coached for 34 years last Thursday. I felt like they needed to hear from an “outsider” about how they need to continue to strive for excellence… though they had lost their first 2 games. I told them that I came there to accomplish 2 things: 1- to show support for their head coach and 2- to encourage them. I talked to them about the foundation of the program when I was the head coach. Those cornerstones were: Unity. Pride. and TOTAL Effort.

No organization is going to succeed if they are lacking in unity. If they’re more worried about themselves (their playing time; their number of carries; their number of tackles) than the team, they are sure to keep on losing. But… if they will adopt the philosophy (which I got from Bo Schembechler when he was the HC at the U. of Michigan) of “BIG Team. Little Me,” they would see a change in their team’s performance.

I told them that they need to have pride. Not arrogance but a humble pride in knowing that they worked very hard to prepare for this season and NOW it was time to reap the benefits. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished… just like an artist does after creating a work of art.

Finally, they shouldn’t ever mistake “activity for achievement.” IF… they will play unified. IF… they will carry themselves with a high degree of self-respect, then… they will play hard EVERY play! They won’t just go out and go through the motions but they will give a TOTAL effort on every play.

If they will do that, they will see changes. Not just in their won-loss record (though they probably will!), but in how they feel about their teammates and coaches… and football in general. It’ll be fun again— instead of a chore!

The coach told me at church on Sunday that it was one of the most gratifying experiences he’d had as a football coach. The kids played hard; they played together and there was a synergy that can only be found in team sports.

And, by the way, they won!!!

God Has Something Better

Posted by admin September - 13 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Kudo’s to Bob Gass Ministries again for “nailing” it this morning in their Word For You Today devotion. It really spoke to a situation that a coaching friend of mine is dealing with. The gist of the devotion this morning will be an encouragement to him and to many of you, too, I think.

It’s a capsulized look at Joseph’s life… and how, regardless of his circumstances, God was with him and had something better planned for his life. First, his brother’s sold him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Egypt where he rose in power until his boss’s wife came on to him and he refused her advances. She cried “rape” (falsely) but her husband believed her— not Joseph. Joseph gets thrown in jail. As Pastor Gass points out, “Some of us would have said, ‘It’s not fair. I did the right thing. Maybe I should have had some fun, kept my job and even gotten a promotion.’ Not Joseph! At that point in his life (here’s the KEY!) there was no better place for him to be, because he was exactly where God wanted him.”

Sometimes when we hit rock bottom, we fear that the “good life” as we know it is over. But, God has bigger plans for you. God had something much bigger for Joseph to accomplish. He has that for you too. God knows exactly where He’s taking you and He knows the lessons you must learn along the way. When things are at their worst, instead of succumbing to fear or self-pity or giving up… look for God’s hand in that situation.

I need to add that none of this works if all you have is a “passing relationship” with God. He requires a commitment to him the same way you ask for a commitment from your players. That comes by going ‘all in” for Jesus. Jesus offers the open door to God and heaven that nobody or nothing else can. Soooooooo… think about this today: are you willing to turn things over to Jesus and let HIM be your “Head Coach?!” Cuz, if you are, then God will begin to implement His plan for your life. and… God’s way is ALWAYS better than ours!!!

Injured Players

Posted by admin September - 8 - 2016 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

The team I’m “consulting” for won their opener on Monday. After getting rained out by the Tropical Storm Friday and Saturday, they finally got to play on Monday. It was gratifying to sit in the press box and see the Wing T that I helped install being executed so well. I made a few suggestions to the HC (who’s the OC) and passed on information about the defense’s reactions. They scored 5 times and did not have a turn-over. A good day’s work!

However, the star RB went out of the game late in the 1st quarter with a knee injury. A low, diving tackle caught him with his leg planted on the artificial turf and he did not come back in the rest of the game. The bad news came later that night when the MRI they took revealed 2 torn ligaments. His (senior) season is over. A bitter pin to swallow for the player and the team.

My focus is: what do you do now? As a coach who cares about his players’ well-being, I think it’s incumbent upon you to make sure 2 things happen. One is from the team’s perspective and the other is from the injured player’s perspective.

First the team. A meeting with the leaders/captains/lieutenants is important followed by a meeting with the entire team. It’s probably better NOT to have the injured player there but it’s not imperative. What needs to be discussed is how the team is to treat their injured teammate now that they know he can’t contribute ON THE FIELD (that’s important!) anymore. They need to go out of their way to make the injured player feels like he is still a vital member of the team. He IS!!! We have a responsibility as coaches to make every player on the team understands his role and… that the role he plays is part of the “big scheme” of things that makes the team function properly. I like the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece in its proper place is important or the picture is unclear. The same thing with players on a team. It’s easy as the regular season progresses to forget that these are people… kids… who need the same encouragement and reinforcement as anyone else. Make sure that the players include the injured player. Above all else: don’t REJECT him or make him feel like he’s not important anymore!!!

I talked to the injured RB yesterday before practice. I told him that I was praying for him and would continue to do so. It was obvious that he was hurting— physically and emotionally. What I emphasized to him was: you are still an important part of this team. The worst thing you can do right now is to withdraw. You need to stay actively involved. Attend as many practices as you can. Be at the pregame meal. Prowl the sideline during the game by cheering on your teammates. Be a part of the team. Because you’re frustrated and disappointed, the natural tendency is to close yourself off and even feel sorry for yourself. NO! You need to be investing in your team. If he’s a captain, he especially needs to continue to lead.

We had a similar situation occur 3 seasons ago on the team I was coaching. I felt like we had a chance to be a really good team. We had a veteran bunch of talented seniors. The one guy who was not only a great player but kind of the “Inspirational Force” of the team (who we could NOT afford to lose)… of course, went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first game— just like what happened on Monday. I encouraged Jack to stay involved. Even though he was on crutches and recovering from knee surgery, he made appearances at practices (for at least a few minutes) most every day. What I thought was the most critical part of his participation, though, was that his parents would be sure to get him to the games early enough that he could “crutch” out to the middle of the field for the coin toss with the Captains. Our players really reacted positively to that. Jack’s inspirational leadership helped us get to the state semi’s that year… and he played in only 1 quarter of the opening game.

By staying involved, he helped himself and the team. We certainly would’ve preferred to have him on the field for every game but… under the circumstances, it turned out very well for everyone involved.

Muscle Memory Patterns

Posted by admin August - 31 - 2016 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

I don’t normally post twice in one week but this situation came up yesterday and I felt like it needed to be addressed. I have NO idea how many coaches read these things each week but… if I’m helping one guy, it’s worth it!

This concerns “interrupting” practice to correct mistakes. The discussion (friendly dispute) came up when a coach told me that his philosophy is: if a player makes a mistake (this was during 11 on 11), he “shows” him what he did wrong and moves on. He felt like it was more important to get through the list of plays on his script than to take the time to “correct” the error and then… run the play again. My point is: just “showing” someone what he’s done wrong is not an effective teaching strategy. You need to “show” him, yes! But then he needs to “correct his mistake.” The play needs to run again… and again, if necessary, until it is blocked correctly. True, it may mean that you only get through 11 or 12 of the 20 plays you had scheduled but… you will KNOW when you leave the field that your players know how to run the play correctly and can execute it on game night.

I had lunch with my sister today and ran this situation by her. She is a professional actress, director and writer. I have “picked her brain” on numerous occasions to find out how she gets a troupe of actors ready to do a live performance on stage. It occurred to me that there are a LOT of similarities between getting ready for a live performance on stage and a live performance on a football field! Her tips have proven to be very helpful. I decided to run this issue past her today to get her feelings on it… from a theatrical standpoint.

I told her, “I was discussing with a coach about what to do if a player blows an assignment during practice. He said to me that he shows or tells the player what he did wrong and moves on…” “NO!” she blurted out! “You’ve got muscle memory patterns” involved here!!! You can’t just show/tell them what they did wrong; you have to walk them through it. There are muscle memory patterns deeply involved here. Bodily movements that are NOT corrected (right on the spot!) become ingrained on the brain! Unless the performer actually DOES the action correctly, he’s memorized it incorrectly and will continue to do it INcorrectly. The eyes need to report it to the brain (doing it the right way) which then directs neural energy to the muscles.” My reply? “Amen, sis!!!”

I’ve studied Principle of Learning. Any of you out there reading this who are in the classroom have sat in on seminars or taken a course on: “Learning Modalities.” Some people learn through listening (a small percentage) and a lot of people learn through visual cues. But the most effective means of learning is: DOING!!! It’s why you Math teachers out there make students come to the board and write out a problem… AND, answer it! And if their answer is incorrect? Yep! You make them work it out (maybe with help from you or another student) until they get it right!

My sister pointed out that marching bands, drill teams and dance squads all subscribe to this means of teaching intricate group maneuvers. My sister and I concurred that it’s also very applicable to an offensive football team. I think it applies to defense/special teams—ANY learning experience.

Reps! Reps! Reps! It’s tedious; it’s boring. But it’s the most effective way to learn. However… I’m sure you’ve heard the statement that: “Practice Makes Perfect.” Is that true??

NO! NO!! NO!!! The only thing that produces perfect results is perfect practice. Too many people confuse activity with achievement. I can “turn the pages in my textbook” and then announce that I’ve “read” a chapter! But… what was gained from “reading”; i.e., turning the pages? Not much.

I have huddled my 1st team offense around me many times as we are starting our Team period in practice. I show them the script. “Guys, we have 30 minutes to try and run 25 plays. That’s the challenge… to get ALL of them rehearsed. But… we will go back and repeat any play that’s not run correctly. That means, no missed assignments and everyone is hustling TO the whistle. Are you ready to accept this challenge??” If your kids have a competitive bone in their body, they’re going to work real hard to practice mistake-free and get in all 25 plays! Unfortunately, there were days when after 15 minutes had passed that I stepped back in front of the unit and showed them where we were on the script. “Guys, we’ve been doing this for 15 minutes now and we are ONLY on play number 7!!! That is just not acceptable. Let’s get focused and run these things correctly.” Yes, there were days when after 30 minutes we’d only gotten to play 17 or 18. But, I knew that those plays had been run correctly and THOSE were the plays we needed to concentrate on in the game that week.

I had college head coaches (I had 2 Hall of Famers— Marv Levy and Lou Holtz!) who subscribed to the philosophy of “reset… and hit the ‘Do Over’ button.” Not me. If we’re supposed to run 25 plays in 30 minutes and we only got through 18 then… hopefully, we’d do a little better the next day. It was an opportunity lost. I always explained it to the players in that manner. There are going to be lost opportunities in life. Try not to let it happen to YOU!!!

That’s MY story… and I’m stickin’ to it!!! Have a blessed day!!!

Be the HEAD Coach

Posted by admin August - 30 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I talked with a head coach recently who was expressing some frustration to me over how his team’s preseason had gone. There were several issues we discussed but I’ll just select one for now.

His offense was just NOT clicking in the preseason. He was concerned about it since they open up this week. I asked him about his role in all of this and was verrrrrry surprised with his response! He said that, “On game nights, I’m going to be the Special Teams Coordinator and manage the game.” I’ve gotten a little bolder and blunter in my old age so I don’t think I gave him the response he was anticipating. I said:

“Coach, who is the most experienced coach on your staff?” “Me,” he said. And, “who is the most knowledgable?” “Me.” and “Who works the hardest and commits the most time to your program?” “Me.” “Frankly, who is the BEST coach on your staff?” He humbly replied, “Well, I guess it’s ME.” “YES!!! No doubt,” was what I (just about shouted!)

I said, “But you are simply going to “manage” the game next Friday?!!! You’re going to stand there and let someone else control the game through their play calls on Offense and Defense? Coach, this isn’t college.” I put it to him pretty emphatically… he needs to be actively involved in controlling every move… not just managing the game. In my mind, managers “react” after things happen. A coach is “dictating” how things unfold.

Soooooooo… high school head coaches who read this: Unless you’ve got a veteran (former) head coach with waaaaay more experience, knowledge and success than you do… who’s come out of retirement to help you—– YOU need to be (at least!) your own Offensive (or Defensive) Coordinator— and maybe you need to be both!!!

“Good, Better, Best!”

Posted by admin August - 23 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

We were on vacation last week. We didn’t find out until we arrived that we had neither phone service nor internet! Our 10 year old granddaughter called it “living in the old timey days!!!” Sooooooo… no post last week! But, I’m back!

I had a conversation with a coach yesterday who was talking about the motivation/interest level of his various players. They are installing the Delaware Wing T so I have been a “Consultant” for him. He commented that “this is an offense for the underdog and overachievers. My more talented players get bored easily and lose focus.” That statement caused me to pause… and think! What do we do with those players on our team who are obviously gifted? How do we motivate them to continue to improve?

Then, I saw in the paper (yep! old school! I still read the printed local newspaper every morning!!!) that Notre Dame dismissed a former “5 star athlete” from their team. The article commented about how the player had never shown much of the “greatness” that he’d shown in high school while playing at ND. What happened? Why didn’t this player continue to shine like he had in high school? I think it has to do with how we motivate these “more talented” players on our team.

There are 3 statements which I have always “preached” to my players which relate to this situation of challenging the reallllllly good ones (and everyone else!) to continue to work hard, improve and dominate. They are:
1- from Tim Duncan, “Good. Better. Best… You can never rest! Until your good becomes better and your better becomes best!”
2- from Kevin Durant, “Hard work beats “talent” when “talent” doesn’t work hard!”
and 3- from the Bible, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

The stars need to be challenged to work to improve their skills, their attitude, and their leadership abilities just as much as that big ole offensive tackle who’s trying as hard as he can! These guys, the gifted ones, can’t be allowed to just get by on their athletic ability alone. They may dominate in high school but… if they get the opportunity to play at the next level (when EVERYONE is just as good or better than them!), they will have needed their high school coach to have “pushed” him to be even better than he already is!

Add a Little Stress!

Posted by admin August - 11 - 2016 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

There’s a pop song from my teen years in the 60’s that is part of what this post is about. I don’t recall what singer/group sang it but it went… “Try a little tenderness.” When dealing with people (especially teenagers!) in this day and time, using your softer/gentler side, Coach, can go a long way in promoting good will! Good will with your players; good will with their parents; good will toward your school administrators. I’m paraphrasing but… there’s a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs that says: “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Which to me means: stay cool in those stress-filled situations. It’ll promote calm and, in the long run, help you develop more self-control. God knows best!

Thus, leading to my topic today. It sounds like the antithesis of that first paragraph but… hang with me, cuz it’ll all come together in the end!

STRESS. Stress has developed a “bad name” in our culture today. Everybody talks about staying away from stressful situations. Avoiding people who cause you stress. Find ways to ease your stress. Hey, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere”… right??!!! NO!!! Like most anything else, avoidance doesn’t make the problem go away! If you’re going to be involved in a competitive sport like football, there is going to be stress. It’s the nature of the beast. What I’m about to say is a bit radical… but, I think stress is actually a good thing!!!! Wellllllllllll… properly-regulated stress is a good thing. If your body had no stress/no tension, you’d be a slug! Your muscles constantly have some tension. When you call upon your body to react (like when a football play starts), the stress level on your body— that which your muscles and nerves produce— propels you into action. So, NO stress is not a good thing. A football team that has little or no stress before a game is either waaaaaaay over-confident or just doesn’t care. Everyone— every team needs some stress to be able to perform at their peak level. Thus the rub!

How do you, as a coach, KNOW how much stress is just right? Your team is made up of dozens of young men… each with a different personality. Sociologists have discovered, though, that in a group setting the group mind-set takes over. What you get is a “synergy” that transcends individual make-ups. It’s like what those sociologists call “Group Think.” A wise coach studies his team… looking for signs of what the Group Personality is. There are always going to be some “outlyers.” But, for the most part, if a kid is playing a team sport… he’s playing it because he enjoys the interaction with other people. He’s willing to sacrifice some of his individuality for the sake of the group/team. Coaches need to observe their team when they’re together. It could be in a structured situation like when they are in the weight room together. It could (and should) be in a more relaxed setting, too— like when they’re hanging out in the locker room before practice. When I was a head coach, we met in the Team Room before we went on the field for practice. I made announcements; we talked about practice; we might have a scouting session but… the kids knew to meet in the Team Room (ALWAYS!) before we went outside. I would arrive and many times would not start the meeting right away. I’d just observe. Who’ sitting where? Who’s sitting with whom? Where’s the laughter coming from? Who seems subdued today? You begin to get a “feel” for your team’s personality. That will be important as you face the weekly grind of trying to win as many games as you can.

I am “consulting” for a local team. I’ve mentioned them a couple of times in previous posts. I am having a blast… helping install the offense I love and just interacting with the players and coaches. The young head coach and I are forming a good working relationship that is becoming more and more of a “bonding” situation where he knows I’m there to help him. So, he is learning to trust me. I offer my expertise and experience and he is soaking it up. I told him that he has a “teachable spirit” about him. They have their first pre-season scrimmage tonight. I have been pleased with the progress they’ve made in learning to execute the Delaware Wing T. Tonight they get put to the test.

I shared with him what I thought was the best (mental) way to approach tonight’s scrimmage. We’re pretty big into NASCAR racing here in Tidewater, Virginia. I suggested (cuz THAT’S what a consultant does!!!!) that he use a NASCAR analogy for tonight. It’s just a “Test Drive.” We want to see how the “engine” responds when we put it on the track and push the pedal to the metal! Don’t make a big deal about “winning and losing.” Tonight is about EXECUTION. NO turn-overs! NO missed assignments! NO major penalties. It’s only a scrimmage. It will not count in their regular-season record. Down-play it so the… HERE WE GO!!!: their STRESS LEVEL stays low. You don’t need them all hyped up tonight.

I had teams that were soooooooo hyper before a game that I had to find ways to calm them down! Other teams required a very emotional appeal before each game to “wake them up.” Others, we said that they had “Quiet Fire.” There was a high level of intensity but… they did NOT need anyone to “pump them up” before a game. That’s YOUR job, Coach! You’ve got to learn what your Team Temperament is and then, when necessary, ADD a little stress! OR… at other times, try a little tenderness… to calm them down.

I’ll close by sharing one of the most amazing pre-game environments I was ever around in my 31 years as a head football coach! It happened before our State Championship game last fall. We’d gathered to head out on the field for the game to start. I was looking for the “pulse” of the team to see if I needed to pump them up OR… calm them down. (I’ve been known to tell a stupid joke… I love puns! before a game to get a groan. Laughter releases stress!) I looked in those kids’ eyes to try and determine where they were emotionally and psychologically and, guess what I got looking back at me? The most peaceful, yet determined look on faces that I’d EVER seen! I KNEW at that moment that we were going to win that game! I didn’t need to say anything. Our “NASCAR Engine” was finely-tuned! We were ready to fly! And… we did! It was over in the first half! The stress level was perfect-a-mundo!!! I was smart enough to just “leave it alone.” You need to develop this power of observation too.

Play-calling

Posted by admin August - 2 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I’ve always enjoyed reading. When I was young, I loved the Hardy Boys Mysteries and biographies of famous men. As an adult, I find great wisdom and practical advice in the Bible. A good mystery is always entertaining too! It always amazes me the little “nuggets” you can pick up when you read. I was reading a novel recently about World War II when the lead character, an American soldier embroiled in the Battle of the Bulge, commented about how the German Panzer (tank) commanders were using Stonewall Jackson’s strategy against the Americans! I checked out the quote the author attributed to Gen. Jackson… and it was confirmed. Here it is:
“Always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy whenever possible.”

I made the connection to play-calling in a football game and how important it is, whether on Offense or Defense, to use this philosophy to put your opponent in a bad way!!! What was Jackson saying that a Coordinator/play-called can use? “Do the UN-expected!” You want to keep your opponent out of sorts as much as possible. It’s, for instance, why I like the Delaware Wing T offense so much as the ultimate high school offensive attack. By its very nature, the Wing T with its shifts, motions, unbalanced formations, misdirection plays and deception is a perfect example of Gen. Jackson’s tactical plan. I can’t tell you how many times over a 28 year coaching career of running the Delaware Wing T that I had opposing coaches exclaim, “We HATE to defend that stinkin’ Wing T offense you run!” Your ability to seemingly “pull a play out of your hat” and have it be successful drives opposing coaches crazy! Little do they know the planning and strategy that went into having that “right play” ready at the opportune time. IF… you have Stonewall’s quote in the forefront of your mind, you’ll pull off those surprises against your opponent!

This “mystify, mislead and surprise” strategy can be exhibited very simply by saying… for an offensive play-caller: “You call a pass play when the defense expects a run! and… you call a run play when they’re expecting a pass!”

Let me assure you that this is not an attempt to encourage you to be reckless in your play-calling. Being tagged as a “river boat gambler” or a “pirate” (like some famous players and coaches!) is NOT what I’m suggesting. I’m simply pointing out that there’s nothing wrong with crossing up your opponent once in a while to keep him off balance. I have a long-time coaching friend who has always said (and done!), “We get 3rd and long— 12 yards or more— we’re going to run fullback trap! And we’re going to get the first down!” Unexpected? Yes! Reckless? Not at all! It simply is calling a play that the defense does not think would be called in that situation.

Thomas J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson is recognized as one of the greatest commanders in the history of warfare. His tactics and strategies are world-famous. One of the strategies he employed which “mystified” the Union generals during the American Civil War was how quickly he could move his army. “Tempo” has become one of the “hot things” that offenses have incorporated. I’ve discussed this topic in the past on this blog so I won’t go into detail now. I WILL say that not huddling or running a Sugar huddle a la Auburn and Gus Malzahn can be that surprise element that keeps a drive alive or gives you a “cheap” score.

One of the coaches I gained a lot from was Bobby Bowden when he was so successful at Florida State. He always had a trickeration play in his game plan and wanted to call his “trick” before his opponent called theirs! I adopted this strategy a few years back and it produced some very positive results— in games AND on the practice field! We would introduce the “Trick of the Week” on Monday. It was always met with great enthusiasm by the players. They were excited to see what Coach J. had “cooked up” for us that week!!! Anything that raises the “fun quotient” in practice means that that practice is more spirited and focused. Whenever we practiced our “trick” the players worked extra hard to perfect their assignment. By Friday night we were ready to spring it on our opponent. There were games where I ended up not even calling it. If that was the case, we just saved it for the next week. This was the situation in our state championship game last fall. In the state semi’s we got off to a quick lead and did not need to call our “trick of the week.” So, going into the finals we had 2 tricks ready! My attitude going into that championship game (since I was retiring regardless of the outcome) was “Let it ALL hang out! Don’t leave anything uncalled on the play sheet. We were going out in a blaze of glory!”

With 2 “tricks” on my Ready List, I decided midway through the 2nd quarter to spring the first one. Our qb hit our “stacked” flanker with a screen pass. He got one block from the SE and went the distance… 40 yards and TD! We got the ball back quickly and from almost the exact same spot on the field, we called our second “trick” (a Double Pass with motion) and… yep! It hit for a 35 yard TD! We got both 2 point conversions and in a matter of 4 minutes, we broke the game wiiiiiiide open! Why? Cuz I incorporated General Jackson’s strategy: “Mystify, mislead and surprise your opponent!”

2 More “P’s of Success!”

Posted by admin July - 26 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I hope a few of you have read my book or at least have followed this blog for awhile! If not, you need to know that my key to successful high school coaching (record as head coach over a 31 year career was 219-83) was: “The 5 P’s of Success!” Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

I’ve been mentoring 4-5 coaches this off-season as they prepare to run their Wing T offense this season. It has been fun to help others and… to see the progress that they’re making. But, as I’ve watched a couple of them go through Summer Team Camps where they’re been live 11 on 11, I’ve seen/heard the frustration that they’ve felt as they state that their offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders at this point like they’d want it to. What I’ve shared with them the last 2 days applies to ALL coaches. I’ve added 2 more “P’s of Success” to my formula!!! They are: PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE.

The Bible says that “patience is a virtue.” I know a lot of high school coaches who need God’s Holy Spirit to pour a lot of patience into their souls! Patience requires self control. It means remaining calm when you expect things to somehow be progressing. (Think: waiting in line at the toll booth or Disney World!!!) Kids learn at different speeds and in different ways. You’ve going to see a LOT of mistakes— especially early on when practice is just beginning. Your ability to continue to “TEACH” instead of becoming frustrated and getting upset will go a long way in building your players’ confidence. I don’t think any of your players want to intentionally mess up! If you don’t know the Fable of the Stonecutter, you need to go back about a year in my Library and find it. It’s the epitome of why patience is soooooo important.

The second P of Success is PERSISTENCE. Winston Churchill’s speech during World War II is one of my favorites and one my players always remark about when I run into them after they’ve graduated. It’s a reminder to: “Never give up and… NEVER give in!” Never give “IN” to what? Welllllll…now we’re back to “Patience!” We don’t give in to our frustrations. We don’t give in to our negative thoughts. We don’t give in to that desire to quit when things aren’t going well. We don’t give in— we stay patient and we continue to work hard. When things seem the bleakest is when a true leader steps up and leads his people through to the other side.

One of my favorite Bible passages is Philippians 3:13-14. It says to: “Forget what is past.” (You can’t do anything about it now!) So, “…straining on toward what is ahead, I PRESS ON toward the goal to win the prize…”

Press on, folks! and… NEVER give up and NEVER give in!!!

TEAM BUILDERS

Posted by admin July - 18 - 2016 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

I’m at the beach with my family this week. I’m normally preparing for the preseason practices for my team to begin. NOT this year! I still find myself “thinking football” though! For those of you who DO have to plan your preseason schedules, something popped into my head last night that I thought I should pass along to you.

Our first week of preseason practice was also our “Camp” week. We’d bring the team in at 6 am and start practice at 6:30. I regret that I didn’t start doing this earlier in my career. What a difference it is to be out in the August heat and humidity early in the morning rather than going out later in the afternoon! We bought some synthetic footballs to use when the dew was still thick on the grass… so we wouldn’t waterlog our good balls. Keep some towels available and the synthetic balls work well.

After a 2 to 2 1/2 hour practice, we’d come inside. We get out of the heat and out of our pads and enjoy some “team time.” The mom’s would bring popsicles and the guys would hang out in the locker room for 20-30 minutes. We’d include some “white board” or “Hudl video” time if needed. But the highlight of the Break was the “Team Builder” period!

I brought in motivational speakers every other day to share a message with our team. There are quality speakers available in your community who will come in and share for free. You don’t have to pay people for their time. If they want to be remunerated for their time, then their heart isn’t in the right place and you don’t need them! Give them 20 minutes to inspire or challenge your players. It was always worthwhile.

The opposite days, we did some type of team-building exercise. I have written about these before on this site. So, if you’re new check out the previous posts. The one I thought about last night that I want to emphasize today is: “Egg Roulette!” I first saw this on a YouTube video of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. We did it for the first time 2 years ago and we had so much fun with it that the players were adamant that we had to do it again this past season!

It requires some preparation on your part. Buy a dozen eggs. Hard boil 8 of them— NOT all 12!!! You want 4 of them to remain “normal.” Set up a table at the front of your team/locker room with 2 chairs across from each other and the carton of eggs sitting in the middle of the table. I’d also suggest that you spread out a plastic cloth across the table and even onto the floor around it. It’s going to get messy!!!

Let your players select one veteran and one rookie to represent the team. Those two come forward and get seated across from each other. Give each of the remaining players 1 or 2 Hershey’s Kisses. We use these all the time for “betting chips” and rewards for answering such questions as blocking rules or proper alignment. They don’t cost much so keep a huge bag in your desk. You can give them out any time you want. Anyway… every player gets to “bet” on which player they think is going to “win” the Egg Roulette. They place their “bet” on the side of the table where their man is sitting. It’s always interesting to watch the dynamics of this; i.e., which player they put their “money” on.

The contest begins with one of the players selecting 1 of the 12 eggs. NOTE: all 12 look the same! The players do NOT know which eggs are hard boiled. They cannot pick it up and shake it. They simply choose an egg, pick it up and crack it on their head!! The goal is to “find” the hard boiled eggs. IF… they crack one of the 4 “regular” eggs— of course, it’s going to be real messy! The kids love it! They’re cheering and booing. They’re encouraging “their” player on which egg he should (or shouldn’t) select. Of course, one more “regular” egg on his head and he loses. The 2 players continue to go back and forth until one of them cracks TWO of the “regular” eggs on his head. At that point, the game is over! The players who bet on the winner not only get their Kiss but collect the Kisses from the players who bet on the losing player.

It’s great fun! It’s a great way to get their minds off of the heat and humidity. Most importantly, it’s building a memory that the players will carry with them for a long time. It’s one of the things that makes football such a great team sport!!!

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