Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

“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!!!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Posted by admin July - 12 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Aretha Franklin sang about it in the 70’s. People are crying out for it every day. We need to realize in this country until we start showing (genuine) respect for others…. especially people from different races and backgrounds than us… this world isn’t going to change!!!

I had the pleasure of worshiping at a church on Sunday where the pastor is a former assistant coach on my staff from years ago. We’ve remained close friends throughout the years (25 or so) while he pursued other things in his life. God put a calling on his life about 10 years ago and he went to Divinity School to get his M Div so he could become an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was a great motivational speaker when he spoke to the team when we coached together. He was even more powerful from the pulpit! Pastor Sam talked at length about the division we face in this country today and HOW we can change things. He was adamant: “It is only through the love of Jesus Christ and the Body of Christ coming together to 1- share this love with other churches and 2- then, UNITED, sharing this love with a nation that’s hurting are we ever going to see change; i.e., racial reconciliation, take place in America.

Oh…. did I mention that Pastor Sam is Black and his church is an AME Zion church? Yes, totally African American. Mine was the only white face in the crowd. And, you know what? I was completely comfortable— though I knew that some of the congregation were wondering “what the heck is HE doing here? Especially after what took place in our nation the last few days!” I was there for 3 reasons: 1- I love Jesus! 2- I love Pastor Sam Warren and 3- I love those people in Sam’s congregation! God impressed upon me Saturday night that He wanted me to go to Hood Chapel on Sunday to support my Brother-in-Christ. Sam was hurting. He is my friend– my Brother! Holy Spirit said to “go!” I was welcomed by his congregation— a bunch of wonderful, godly folks. It was a special time… one I will never forget. Oh, I plan to go back and worship with them some more!

I had another conversation with another pastor, white guy, yesterday. He knew of our program’s success during my coaching career. He wanted to know how I was able to “relate” to my African American players (the majority of our team rosters were Black) so well over the years. First off, I gave credit to Coach Sam Warren (of whom I just spoke). Sam showed me how to relate to these kids… from a different racial background. It really was pretty simple (in theory!): just LOVE these kids. SHOW THEM RESPECT! Let them know that not only are they athletes but that you care about them as people. Their self-worth is found in being part of a team where every player is RESPECTED… for his talent AND as a person! Sam was instrumental in “changing the culture” in our program. In just his second year with us, we went 10-0 and captured our District championship. The kids knew that we loved them and respected them enough that we were NOT going to be satisfied with anything less than their best— on AND off the field. With Sam’s influence, I forged friendships with our players, black and white, that I still cherish and maintain today. We took the “theory” and put it into PRACTICE. That part is NOT easy. It requires WORK!!! But, together, Coach/Pastor Sam and I brought about changes that propelled those kids to be the best they could be. I’m proud to have been a part of it.

I was reared by two parents who taught my sister and I to be “color blind.” People are people and we need to look on the inside. If we’re going to judge” (NOT “condemn” but judge/evaluate) people, do it based on their character— NOT the color of their skin! Once I gave my life to Jesus at age 33, I had the power of God’s Holy Spirit to help me do this! Now, I look at people— regardless of their race or cultural background— and try to see them the same way God sees them… through eyes of love. It’s not easy. That’s why I have to rely on Holy Spirit’s strength to get me “over some humps”— when I see things happening in our nation which upset me terribly. It’s time to “change our culture.”

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Show me just a little respect.” are the lyrics to the song! Good words to live by.

Coaching and Ministry

Posted by admin July - 8 - 2016 - Friday 1 COMMENT

My heart is heavy today as I hear the tv news channel in the next room going on and on about all of the violence and hate exhibited in our country over the last few days. It’s disturbing; it’s shocking; it’s depressing… it’s disgusting!!! There are agents of evil at work in our culture who want nothing more than to see as much turmoil as possible. They revel in the hate and misery that is so apparent lately. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I need to stand up and declare that God is still in control and we need to turn to Him if we ever want to solve these problems. Diversity training and other such classes do NOT change a person’s heart. Only Jesus can do that!

As coaches and leaders of our next generation, it becomes even more important that we set an example for our young people. There are values that this country is built upon that we as individuals must present to those we have influence over. I always felt strongly while I was actively coaching that I had a responsibility to be a positive role model and to be an ambassador for Christ to the young people I worked with. If you are a Christian, I want to encourage you to recognize that Jesus is counting on you!!! He’s counting on you to show the young people whom you work with that there is a way of love… not hate. That there is a way of mercy and forgiveness and not anger and aggression. I truly believe that you will experience a new level of fulfillment when you begin to see that what you do (coaching) is an important part of God’s will for your life. We frequently talk about God’s will as some sort of “mystery” that God somehow keeps hidden from us. NO! It’s exactly the opposite. My point is: why would He want to keep it a big secret??!! He’s showing us through His Word and through circumstances HOW He wants us to live our lives! We just need to “open the eyes of our hearts” to see (and hear) His calling on our life.

When you’re coaching, do it with a thankful heart, as though the Lord is your boss— because He is! When you work with that attitude, you will come alive. When each of us is doing what God has called us to do, the world around us is a better place. All skill is God-given. By living in conscious interaction with Holy Spirit, we can further develop those skills He’s given us. That’s when we start changing the world for better… one heart and mind at a time.

Team Camps

Posted by admin June - 30 - 2016 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

I’ve been on the “other side” (of Camping) the past 2 weeks! By that, I mean: I was the Camp Director. Instead of “receiving” the instruction from a visiting coach… I was the instructor! I conducted a team Wing T Camp for a school in Virginia Beach last week and led one in Chesapeake, Va. (my home city— next door to Va. Beach) this week. In fact, we ended up today.

Some things I can tell you about summer camps now that I’ve conducted a couple:

1) Get a coach who knows HOW to coach. If you’re a Wing T team, make sure that the coach you bring in has a vast knowledge of this offense but… is also able to teach it. Teach it to both your staff and your players!

2) I’d find a high school coach who meets the criteria in point #1 above. Yes, college coaches are further up the food chain. But, that’s why I’d want a high school coach as opposed to someone who coaches at the college level. If you don’t know it, there is a vast difference between the things that colleges are able to do as opposed to high schools. A Camp (to me) should be about fundamentals and basics.

3) Ask the visiting instructor to set up his Camp practice schedule the same way he conducts his team’s practice schedule during the season. There are drills and skills that you can learn from someone else’s practice schedule that can be very helpful. For instance (and this is for my Wing T friends out there), how I run our “Shoulder Skills” period is a bit unique. It teaches a lot of Wing T blocking skills that you can’t get from any other drill. One thing we do is put the big “Bertha” bags on the sideline. The players MUST keep the bag on the painted line as he drives it for 5 yards to the next line. It teaches getting that great inside/out angle while “controlling” that bag for 5 yards. IF the player does not keep it on the (side)line, he has to go again. Both schools that I “camped” at these 2 weeks really liked this drill.

4) Finally, you must be willing to pay the coach/es who come in to lead your camp. He’s performing an important service to your program and should be compensated for his time and effort.

Summer team camps are great! I also think you don’t have to travel. Invite a coach to come to your school. Provide a lunch so your staff can talk some football when the day’s work is over. It’s a BIG plus for your coaches and your players!!!

PAY ATTENTION… to Details!

Posted by admin June - 21 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

First… just “pay attention!” Then… “pay attention to details.” It all starts from getting kids to focus long enough to learn. If you can do that, things will go so much better.

I had the pleasure of teaching/leading a Wing T Camp that I’m putting on for a school in Virginia Beach, VA today and tomorrow. A great bunch of kids and the coaching staff is doing an outstanding job. We got a LOT accomplished today. However, the (what I call) “learning environment” could use some improvement. It made me wonder what it’s like in the classrooms in that school…. any high school. Trying to get everyone quiet so I can teach/explain something is hard… especially if I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me as a “visiting” coach to come down on the kids if they aren’t paying attention. It’s why I’ve always said that I want my practices to be my classroom. We’re going to be organized, cooperative and respectful. This, by the way, works BOTH ways! The teacher/coach must SHOW respect if he wants to earn respect. If I going to teach effectively, I need students/players engaged and focused. They can’t do this to the best of their ability unless they are 1) quiet and 2) truly listening.

Anyway… when I would stop a drill to explain something in detail, it was very hard to keep everyone’s attention. The player I was “coaching up” was focused on what I was saying but I’m sure it was hard for him to pay attention because most everyone around him took this one-on-one instruction time as a sign that they could chit-chat and laugh it up with their friends. I was good… I kept my tongue under control, though and I pressed on. (with a grimace on my face!!!)

I would recommend that coaches have some kind of signal to use when you need everyone’s undivided attention. I believe I mentioned this in an earlier post but it’s worth repeating. Whether it’s short blasts on your whistle or a verbal command, your players need to know that it’s time to 1- get their eyes up; 2- their mouths shut and 3- their ears open! I do this with a verbal command of: “READY- READY!!!” The players’ response is: “TEAM!”— while everyone claps. We practice it a few times until it gets imprinted on their minds then I explain what they need to know.

The next time I need everyone’s undivided attention, I again shout: “READY- READY!” and, hopefully!, everyone responds! If they don’t, they get to get down in an “up” pushup position and hold it there for 5-7 seconds. I then shout “READY READY” from there and see if they can pop up off the ground high enough to clap from that pushup position! I point out to them that it’s much easier to clap while standing up… so don’t forget next time!

Speak Life!

Posted by admin June - 17 - 2016 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

One of the core values of my church, Community Church @ Western Branch, Chesapeake, VA, is: “Speak Life.” It amazes me what a word of encouragement can do for someone. It may seem like its of little import to you but… the person receiving it?? It can be life-changing!

Most of us have heard the story of the boy who was on his way home from school one day with ALL of his books in hand. A neighborhood girl passed him as he walked toward his house and told him that she appreciate his help in Math class today… that he was really smart. The boy shared later with his parents that he’d planned to go home and commit suicide that afternoon cuz nobody at school liked him. But the girl’s comment had changed everything and literally “saved” his life!

Our words can have just as much impact on our players’ lives. You never know when a word of encouragement can lift someone out of the dumps. I had occasion on Monday to see a boy “light up” when I spoke to him at the end of the workout.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve been riding over at 6:30 am to a local school on Mondays to help them install the Delaware Wing T offense. This past Monday was the last one of the spring. I had noticed that the guy they had working at right tackle was very unsure of himself back in April when we started. He lacked aggressiveness because he lacked self-confidence. As the Mondays went by, I was drawn to this young man and kept explaining things to him. He was showing improvement each week. I pulled him aside on the way in off the field this week (because it was our last workout), shook his hand and said to him, “I’m very proud of you!” He looked at me a bit quizzically. I followed with, “Yes, verrrrry proud of you! You have shown soooooooo much improvement from the beginning till now. You are going to be a “beast” this fall!”

Wellllllll…. he lit up like a Christmas tree. I think he “floated” to the locker room. He had a big ole smile on his face and a giddyup in his step. I hope that I made his day. And, perhaps, his whole season! I was glad that God had given me the nudge to go over and speak to this young man and bless him.

Make time to encourage your players; your wife; your kids. They get enough negatives that slipping in a positive comment will do wonders for their self-esteem. We could save a lot of money on trophies and certificates if the people in charge would just take the time to let the kids they work with know how much they are appreciated. Speak “LIFE!!!”

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