Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for August, 2010

Opening Game!

Posted by admin August - 30 - 2010 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Most of you are gearing up for your opener this week…. good luck and God bless all of you!

My old high school coach, who I’d have to rank in the coaching genius catagory (he was waaaaaaay ahead of his time! We did things in the 60’s that most teams didn’t even think of till the 80’s!) always preached to us that “the FIRST game is worth 3!” If you lose the opener, it takes 2 more weeks to “dig out of the hole” that you’ve put yourself in. High school kids and their fragile ego’s. And, if you win the opener, you have 2 weeks of peace and joy to build on. Kids want to come to practice. They listen better and the motivation level is high.

I would encourage you not to “ease up” this week in preparation… just because it’s “game week!” Do the things you’ve been doing for 3 weeks and keep emphasizing how important execution and minimizing mistakes is going to be toward winning this game. I have a coaching colleague who played his opener last Friday… and won! He is so fired up this week that I can “hear” it when I read his email!!! His one concern was: how many foolish penalties they had during the game.

I asked him how often they called penalties during practice… particularly during Team period. If you are not making a point to “penalize” your players for foolish penalties during practice, then you can expect the same thing during games.

A simple solution (I’ll use Off sides on Offense) is: If/when somebody jumps offside during Team Offense, all 22 (1st and 2nd team) drop for 5 pushups. 5 yards for offside… 5 pushups. It doesn’t seem like much, but you are trying to get their attention! You can also walk off the 5 yards back if you are in a scrimmage situation.

If a defender has a late hit, it’s 15 yards… on the whole defense! The one guy doesn’t get penalizied in the game… so why should only one guy get “punished” during practice.

PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS!!! It’s the Little Things that can make a BIG difference this Friday.

Pre-season Scrimmages

Posted by admin August - 21 - 2010 - Saturday ADD COMMENTS

Many of you are in “scrimmage mode” at this point in your pre-season practices. How you approach those/that scrimmage will have a BIG effect on your players’ mental approach to your regular season.

I would encourage you to talk about “execution” and “enthusiasm” as the Objectives of scrimmaging. Talk about how the players’ performance in the scrimmage will determine starting positions and the 2 deep depth chart. So: “play hard” and “play smart.” Winning and losing a scrimmage is, in my mind, secondary to the main purpose for scrimmaging. If you stress “winning” a scrimmage as the prime objective; it can have an adverse effect whether you win OR lose on the scoreboard. Your kids can get too over-confident OR… too devastated. The score is secondary.

Talk up that this is the chance to “take it out” on someone else since you’ve only had teammates to pound on for a couple of weeks. Go out there and show the coaches who’s aggressive… who LIKES to hit. If you make a mistake, make it going “100 miles an hour!”

This sets the tone for emphasizing to your team that the team that executes the best and minimizes errors is most likely going to come out on top on the scoreboard when the real games start.

It’s all in how you approach things.

Good luck and God bless you!

Beat the Heat!

Posted by admin August - 17 - 2010 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

If it’s as hot where you are as it has been here in Tidewater Virginia then you know it’s HOT!!! I hope that all of you are being careful to deal with the heat and humidity in an effective way. I still marvel at the fact that when I played back in the 60’s and early 70’s, drinking water was considered a BAD thing! We loaded up with salt tablets before practice (just so all of the water in our system would be “soaked up” by the sodium!) and then took no water breaks during a grueling 3 hour practice.

I want to mention a couple of things you can do to be sure that your athletes are properly hydrated during practice. First, remind them to re-hydrate after practice when they get home at the end of the day then… lots of water before they come to practice. Secondly, we let the kids bring a big jug of water on the field with them. If they are not involved in a drill, and with the coach’s permission, a player can jog over and get a drink and hustle back to his group. OR… if you have student managers/trainers, they can walk around the practice field with squirt bottles and give a player in need of water a shot of H2O. Be sure to include WATER BREAK as one of your Periods on your written practice schedule. If, God forbid, something were to happen to a player during practice and a meeting with your principal and/or an attorney was required, you could present your practice schedule with a prescribed Water Break, or two, on it as evidence of your taking the time to be sure they are hydrated.

From a psychological standpoint, I learned something from a former assistant coach that helped our kids cope with the mental part of dealing with the heat of August practice.

I came out of the coaches’ office one morning as we prepared for practice and could see that the kids were dragging already. It was 8 am and the temp was already in the 90’s! I called them together and told them the following “story”— tongue in cheek: “Guys, I just got off the phone with Coach “Jones” (of our upcoming first game opponent). I told him that it is realllllllllly hot today and if he would agree NOT to practice his team today, then we wouldn’t practice either. Thus, we’d stay even in our preparation. Well, gentlemen, Coach “Jones” said ‘No’— that the Eagles had to practice. Soooooooo… we have to practice too! When you get hot and sweaty out there today, just remember: it’s Coach “Jones'” fault. I was going to give you the day off. But since the Eagles are practicing, we have to practice too. We don’t want to let them get ahead of us in preparation, do we? Ya’ll do want to win this first game don’t you?! Then, get out there and take it out on Coach “Jones”— cuz he’s the reason that you have to practice today! And… remember that the night of the game!”

Of course, there was NO phone call. And the veterans knew I was doing it tongue in cheek; but it became one of those “team traditions” that the kids came to expect. You have to be an effective story teller if you’re going to be an effective communicator.

And… while I’m at it— this came up the other day. The Mom of one of my players from last year called me. Her son is at the high school now but she needed to “vent” to someone. Right off the bat, one of the high school coaches had been disrespectful to her and her son. Now, a good athlete has chosen NOT to play football. He was publically embarrassed in front of his teammates and then when the parent confronted the coach, she felt that he was rude to her. Guys: please don’t alienate the parents. If you feel you can’t keep lines of communication open with parents for FEAR of them badgering you about why Junior isn’t getting any playing time, etc.— then you are coaching in the wrong decade and century. People are going to be confrontive. You need the people skills to listen and defuse… not avoid them or attack them if they want to talk. You want to build bridges, not walls! Just sayin’!!!

Try God’s Way!

Posted by admin August - 5 - 2010 - Thursday 1 COMMENT

A lot of you have started practice this week… and the rest of you will most likely start next week. It’s that times, guys, when your annual “life make-over” begins— and runs for the next 3-4 months! Your attitude is going to have a tremendous impact on how these next few months go for you, your team and your family.

Have you ever watched someone learning to get around on crutches? What a struggle! Sometimes you find them trying to balance on one leg, or resting a hundred feet down the street, their hands raw and sore. Leaning on crutches can be exhausting. So can leaning on your own understanding of your circumstances.

IF… you want things to go badly for you— exclude God! Try working things out using only your own best judgment. When you hit a brick wall (and I promise that you WILL at least once this season!), try something else. When that way gets you nowhere, resort to logic… then panic! The truth is: some of us act like we’re addicted to anxiety.

We’ve been living this way so long, we’re not capable of seeing it or acknowledging it. When one worry is gone we put another one in its place. We have a line of them at our door, because the sign reads: “All welcome!” It’s like we enjoy entertaining them. But Jesus said that they’re a waste of time and energy. HERE’S THE KEY: They keep you so focused on what you think you need, or what you’re afraid of losing, that you don’t have time to enjoy what you have. Guys, that’s no way to live!

Instead of worrying, begin living this season by this Bible verse: a) “Don’t worry about anything.” b) “Pray and ask God for everything you need.” c) “Always give thanks.” d) “God’s peace… will keep your hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Go ahead— try God’s way!

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