Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for December, 2009

Jesus is THE Reason for the season!

Posted by admin December - 24 - 2009 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

I received this from a coaching friend as an email attachment today. I found it so meaningful that I felt that I had to post it for everyone who stops by:

If you look for Me at Christmas
you won’t need a special star—
I’m no longer in Bethlehem,
I’m right there where you are.

You may not be aware of Me
amid the celebrations—
You’ll have to look beyond the stores
and all the decorations.

But if you take a moment
from your list of things to do
And listen to your heart, you’ll find
I’m waiting there for you.

You’re the one I want to be with,
you’re the reason that I came,
And you’ll find Me in the stillness
as I’m whispering your name.
Love,
Jesus

SPINNER S’WING T CLINICS

Posted by admin December - 19 - 2009 - Saturday ADD COMMENTS

Coaches: Several of you have asked about the possibility of “hiring me out” to come speak to your staff about our Spinner S’Wing T Offense which has been so successful the past 2 years. We concluded our 2nd season at the Middle School level (6th, 7th and 8th graders) and went 6 and 1. Our loss was to a team who also had only 1 loss and we played without our starting QB (who was also our Strong Safety) and our FB (who doubled as an ILB). I don’t know if we would have beaten them with those 2 guys healthy, but it would have helped!
At any rate, we averaged 37 points a game (with 8 minute quarters) for the second year in a row and only had to get in punt formation twice in 7 games! If we hadn’t developed “fumble-itis” in the last 2 games, we would’ve put up even more points.
A Youth League coach in WY installed the Spinner S’Wing this year and “turned around” his program— going from poor season records to a one loss season and a nice run through the play offs. He LOVES the Spinner!
On the other end of the spectrum, I had a friend adopt the Spinner for his Canadian Semi-pro League team (21 to 28 year olds) and they broke every team offensive record this year!
I have several coaches asking about it so……… I am offering my time and energy to speak at a clinic at your school or your Youth League if you are interested. I am available on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the late winter and spring. I will send you the fees I have to charge if you are interested in pursuing a clinic. Contact me by clicking the button at the top dashboard on this home page.
Blessings,
Lew

Recruiting Season

Posted by admin December - 18 - 2009 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

This is not about college coaches coming in to your school to recruit your players… it’s about YOU getting out in the halls at your school and visiting your feeder school and recruiting players for your program!!!
I had a coach write recently saying that they are really hurting for linemen— and need to find some real soon. I asked if he had been talking to kids around school. His reply was “Yes, but we don’t want to bug them to death.” He wanted to know if there was anything else that the coaches could do. My response was: take the example of what college recruiters do and emulate it! It’s a combination of utilizing good salesmanship techniques and just having a personality that will draw kids to you and your program.
As far as the “pestering” thing… think about how the college recruiters continue to “pester.” If nothing else, they are persistent! You need to be the same way. It’s not just a one contact thing. If you have your eye on a new “recruit” in your halls or maybe down at your middle school, you need to continue to make contact. Speak to him EVERY time you see him. Make it a point to go out of your way to find him at lunch or in PE class (whenever you can run into him) and talk to him. A public contact is good because other students will see him as an object of envy. He’ll begin to recognize this elevated status and be drawn to you and your program.
I would never advocate lying to a prospective player but you do want him to feel wanted. Again, think of the things that college recruiters talk to HS players about: playing time; helping win a championship; playing at the next level; people coming to see YOU play! Have you seen the movie The Blind Side yet? If not, it needs to be something you do over Christmas break! It’s a great story but what a classic example of people caring about and reaching out to a young man and “winning him over!” and I’m talking about the Tuoey’s… not the college recruiters! You might be that one person who lights the fire under that young man.
Invite a group of prospects to take a tour of your facilities. Show them your weight room; take them in the locker room; and show them your equipment room. Have a helmet for each of them to try on. Put a pair of shoulder pads on them… even a game jersey! Sell… sell… sell! In college, the culmination of the recruiting process is to get the recruit on campus. You can do the same thing. Invite a group of prospects over to your house for pizza. Show a highlight tape of your previous season. Or, show some game film. Point out what a former player did and now he’s at “State U.” on scholarship. Plant the seed that that could be you some day!
Be persistent. Be friendly. Be there for him (maybe he needs help in a class— set up some tutoring sessions). You have to sell yourself and your program. It’s not “beneath” you to get out there and talk to these kids. Don’t make promises you can’t keep but let them know that they are important to the future success of your program. I don’t understand how a HS coach can somehow think it’s demeaning to “recruit” players but when it comes to college coaches recruiting… a great recruiter is looked upon with awe and respect.
Get out there and talk to those kids in your school! Note that I said IN YOUR SCHOOL! If your school system does not allow proselyting, please don’t get labeled as a coach who goes and raids other schools’ players. Everyone of us has that overweight lug who doesn’t “look” like a football player. With some work and encouragement, he may end up looking like Nate Newton (Mr. Bad Body of the Dallas Cowboys… but he sure could play!) Don’t give up on a kid just because he doesn’t pass the “eye ball test!”
Merry Christmas!!! and remember: Jesus is THE reason for the season!

After the Season, Part 2

Posted by admin December - 11 - 2009 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

I am very fortunate that my Principal is also a former head coach! We enjoy bantering back and forth during lunch duty and hall monitoring about football related topics. He was nice enough to read the blogs posted here and give me some feedback this week. He brought up several things that he feels I should present to you guys as you head into the off season. So, “Thanks Lee for your input!”
This is the time of year to do a Needs Assessment of your program. Most of you will look back and only really think about the last 2 or 3 games when reflecting on your season. It is necessary to evaluate all 10! The Christmas holiday break is a great time to sit down with your video machine and game tapes/dvds and, yes!, chart EVERY play!!! (This should have been done during the games.) If you do not have a coach who is charting every play, offense and defense, during your games… that’s a “little thing” that you need to include next season. It saves you a lot of time during this post-season evaluation. As you look at each play, you are watching for the “break down.” Who missed a key block? Did the RB make a proper cut? This will give you a detailed picture when you take the game results and analyze them. Total up each play in your offense and see how “efficient” it was; i.e., what was the average gain for each play? and.. how many times did you run it during a 10 game season. If it did not average at least 4 yards a carry, you need to ask 2 questions: 1- why wasn’t it efficient? and 2- do I need to keep it in our playbook? If you decide that it’s worth keeping, then the next step is to find out how you can improve upon it.
You will do the same thing with your defense. Who made the tackle? Where was the break down? Was it in technique? Was it poor alignment? or.. was it that the player(s) simply lacked the skill level to make the play? What play(s) hurt you consistently? How did you do when comparing how you defended the run vs. the pass? Remember: statistics can be deceiving! You may have a “great pass defense” (only gave up 50 yards a game, for example) but the reality is: nobody had to throw against you because they rushed for over 300 yards a game! A little drastic, but I think you get the point.
I would encourage you to do the same analysis with your kicking game. Look at each kicking team and do that “Needs Assessment” for kicking, blocking and coverage! If there is a consistent breakdown, it is one more thing that you have to find an answer for.
Once you have these weaknesses exposed and these questions posed, you have to find some answers. The big question would be: do we stay with the offense and defense and/or kicking game that we are using now (is there enough positive that we want to continue to try and get better) or… do we go to something else? I would submit: Guys, there’s no “magic bullet” out there! Now, your personnel might not be suitable for a particular offense (no QB to run the spread passing game) or your philosophy on defense (read and react) might need to be modified but my advise is: IF you spent a lot of time deciding that “this” was the offense or defense for your program… don’t go changing again just because it did not work as well as you’d hoped this year! Stick with your knitting!!! Learn more about it. Coach your coaches so they can teach their position better; but don’t give up on a proven offense just because it didn’t produce as well as you wanted. I have mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating: I have a good friend who coached with me before getting a HC job at a new school that just opened in our region. He decided to install the Del. Wing T like we ran at my school. Like most new programs, they struggled the first year or two and people had to find things to explain why they weren’t successful. The blame fell on that “antiquated offense” he was trying to run! Even some of his staff was asking for a change. He called me for advice and I told him to “stick with it! It’s a proven offense; you know how to run it; keep developing your staff and your personnel.” It took a couple more years but they did stick with it. Now 5 years later, they led our Region in offense and scoring offense… using that same old “broke down” offense that everybody said wouldn’t work! Guys: your opponents want you to “keep fishing” for an offense and defense because that means that you have no confidence in yourself and, more importantly, you have no sense of “identity” within your program. We used to call some school’s the “flavor of the week” offense. It was almost silly to prepare a defensive game plan and scouting report because on Friday night, it was doubtful that we would see anything like what we’d watched on tape in preparation for them. We knew right then that we had them where we wanted them.
You want your kids, your school, your community, your area to “recognize” something about your team. Our identity was wrapped up in our Del. Wing T offense and the Delaware/Michigan winged helmets that we wore! Everybody knew who it was when we played because we had an “identity.”
But…. if you did not do the homework when your first installed your current system and you are dissatisfied with you’re doing, you need to talk to someone who can give you the information that you need to successfully install a new scheme. My principal says to find a clinic that you can attend that will give you the information you need to make the change. The clinic you choose is determined by your needs assessment.
I have a section in my book, “101 Little Things…” that talks about visiting other staffs. The big clinics are great and your staff should attend one together. I feel, though, that you can gain a lot more individual attention by meeting with a coach on an individual basis for a day or two. Find someone who runs the system that you want to install and ask him if he would be willing to meet with you. Offer him a “clinic fee” to speak with you and your staff. (*NOTE: any of you who are interested in installing the Wing T with the Spread Shotgun Package included, I do clinics AND camps. Just let me know if you’d be interested) By meeting on an individual basis you can ask all the questions you want, watch film together and really soak up all the knowledge this coach can share.
I had a coach from Utah contact me about 4 years ago. He wanted to fly to Virginia and spend a week with me learning as much as he could about our Spread Shotgun Wing T package. We spent 4-5 hours a day for 5 days just talking offense. His family came with him and they did the “tourist thing” to Williamsburg and DC while we talked football each day. Everybody had a great visit.
When you get back from your clinic it’s time to go to work. As I mention in the book, head coaches have to “coach the coaches.” Your assistants have to be as clear about how to teach the offense, at least their position(s), as you are. That is a KEY TO SUCCESS!!! Now… get to work on those game films!
Thanks to LF for his input on this one!
God bless you and Merry CHRISTmas
Lew

What now?!!

Posted by admin December - 3 - 2009 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

I just received a note from an internet coaching friend from another state that he has been fired as head coach at his school. Wow!!! This is not a situation that I hope any of you have to deal with. We look jadedly at these high-priced college HC’s who get fired and think of the “golden parachute” that they’ll receive and we don’t feel too badly for them. But… for a high school HC to be fired— that’s a different story! There are not many of us who are in it “for the money.” To be let go because we failed to achieve a satisfactory win/loss record in the eyes of an AD or Principal is a bitter pill to swallow.
So how do we deal with it? It would be easy to say that you just “suck it up”; blow it off and move on with your life… but that would cheapen the time and effort and heart and soul that you have poured into your program. Plus, since we are dealing with self concept issues here, it is not healthy to just take the typical “whatever” attitude and try to just force the pain and frustration from our mind.
As a Christian, I would recommend that you talk to a pastor or friend who is a Believer and, as the Bible says, “cast your cares on Him (Jesus) because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7. We are a 3 part being: physical, emotional and spiritual. You may see it as strictly emotional but your spirit has been dealt a severe blow and it needs healing. God, through His Word, has always been a ready Source of strength for me during my career. I would refer you to a little book entitled: “Power For Living” by Jamie Buckingham. Type in the title on any internet search engine. You can order a copy for FREE! I think all of us can use some power for living—especially at at time like this!
Second: don’t withdraw. Your family needs you and you need the support, love and encouragement of your family. My tendency (when I was at a low point in my coaching career) was to retreat, sulk and have a pity party. It’s always a party of one. That way, you can have a self-fulfilling prophecy that “nobody cares about me” because you have shut yourself off from those who care about you the most. Let them minister to you. The best advice I ever heard from a professional counselor about helping someone out of depression was: get involved in other peoples’ lives. At this time of year, there are numerous opportunities to invest your time in others’ lives. It will lift their spirits… and yours!
Finally… it IS a time to re-evaluate your life goals. Find someone who will be objective, realistic and who knows you and knows your program that you were just dismissed from. Ask for some tough answers. Where did I go wrong? What could I have done better? If you still want another chance to be a HC, you have to look at yourself and determine what actually caused your dismissal. Your level of “self awareness” is critical. It is easy to blame your dismissal on “no talent”; “lack of support in the community”; Kids lacked motivation; poor facilities… but the truth of the matter is: there are many successful high school coaches who have overcome these things and are successful despite these problems. Perhaps you are simply not, at this point in your life, prepared to lead a program. There is a time of seasoning for all of us.
The big question is: what have you learned from this experience— as bad as it was? How can you grow from it?
I love the quote from Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life (another excellent book that I’d encourage you to read if you haven’t. And even if you have, read it again this winter!) that says “What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.”
God bless you!

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