Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for May, 2012

The Nature of Groups, Pt. 2

Posted by admin May - 22 - 2012 - Tuesday 1 COMMENT

Individuals have a need to be identified with others. Belonging gives us a feeling of having status. Thus, the reason why we have “fans” who enthusiastically follow their favorite team! For players on the team, it’s a case of finding security through belonging. Each member of your team desires a defined place or role on your team. This defined role gives each team member the security of having something stable from which to work.

The second point is: all individuals seek status. Through membership in various groups the individual is seeking a means of gaining some recognition. Status depends on what the individual thinks about his role on the team and on how he defines success for himself in his role.

It’s important to note that a player may gain feelings of esteem from the status of the group to which he belongs. If your team is well thought of and belonging to your team brings credit to each member, then there is built-in status for your players to be a part of your program. The Marines have long used this means of satisfying individual esteem needs through the prestige of the Corps. This is a good thing for it serves as a strong motivating force. Simply put, people like to belong to groups that they are proud of.

The final point I will share today is a secret to building successful teams. It is called Identification with the Group. We know that individuals join or identify with a group because that association pays off in satisfying needs. These needs (which we’ve talked about) must be satisfied by the group (your team) to cause the player to whole-heartedly identify with it. At the same time, the group must benefit from the identification of its members. This means that accomplishment of the group’s goals (winning football games!) is a responsibility of all team members.

What I’m saying is that group identification must be satisfying to all members rather than just a select few. KEY: there is no surer way to lose group members and the effectiveness of your team than by favoring a selected few. The group is not a team until all members start identifying themselves with it! When your players start boasting about your team or simply show pride in belonging to your team, your players are accepting team success or failure as his own success or failure. If you are showing favoritism to a certain player or players, it is a surefire way to destroy team cohesiveness and thus group identification breaks down. I know a coach who let his quarterback play on Friday night even though he’d been suspended from school that week and had missed several practices. Friction started which eventually led to the disintegration of his whole program.

I’ll look specifically at Group Dynamics starting next week. If you would like to talk about any of this I’ve written or you have a question, please click on the Contact Form and write. I love to hear from you guys! In Christ, Lew

USMC Leadership in Action, Pt. 2

Posted by admin May - 17 - 2012 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

I want to talk about a subject that I had only heard about but found it explained quite well by the Marines! It is Group Dynamics. When individuals come together in a group, their individual needs take on a whole new dimension. Each person is not only influenced by his own needs but he is influenced by the needs of other people in the group. This mixture creates a very complex and dynamic force. An effective leader needs to have a working knowledge of group dynamics. An understanding of group dynamics helps the leader discover new ways not only to motivate his team but to do it in a way that will provide a sense of satisfaction to those in the group.

The key here is to develop a “group personality” of its own. The use of “I” gradually changes to “we” and the group starts functioning more as a team with a common purpose rather than a bunch of selfish individuals who are only looking out for #1! One of my mantras with my teams over the years is: “Big TEAM… little Me.” As long as you have kids who are more concerned about the name on the BACK of their jersey instead of the one on the FRONT, you will have to continue to work on this transformation. A truly functioning team is created when each member gains satisfaction from his membership and his role in the group.

When you hear your players using the word “we” instead of “me,” it indicates that satisfaction is being gained and that person is identifying himself with the group. So, the successful leader is going to understand the nature of a group by referring to his knowledge of those individual needs (that I shared last week) and how they can be satisfied by belonging to the team.

More next week!

USMC Leadership in Action

Posted by admin May - 8 - 2012 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I have just started reading a book that a friend of mine who’s a retired Marine officer passed along to me. It’s title is Leadership in Action. If you want to learn about leadership, these are the guys to go to. Nobody produces better-trained leaders than the United States Marine Corps. I’m braggin’ on them and I’m a retired Army officer!!!

The Foreword gets right to the point. It states that “the traits of a leader mark him as a very positive person who has definite goals— who knows where he is going and how to get there. He does in fact possess the skill, knowledge, and self-confidence that enable him to attain the goals which he sets for himself.” Two very important characteristics are brought out before the author even starts the body of the book: leaders need to be positive and optimistic. Secondly, they need to set goals… and know how to achieve them.

Part 1 of the book deals with “Psychology of Leadership.” If you have never taken a course in Sports Psychology, you are doing yourself and your team a disservice. I am shocked at the number of coaches that I come in contact with who know little about the application of psychology of leadership. They know little about topics like 1- the basic human needs; 2- the frustrations that occur when these needs aren’t met and 3- the adjustments that people make to compensate for their failures. An understanding of these 3 elements of psychology will help a leader to develop the human relations skills that one will need to be a successful leader. Human needs, both physical and personal-social, are motivators which cause people to behave in certain, predictable ways. The 4 major classification of needs that are presented in this book are: the need for SECURITY, the need for ACCEPTANCE, the need for RECOGNITION and the need for ADVENTURE.

I’ll conclude this entry by saying that a person can satisfy his needs for security, acceptance, recognition and adventure and yet feel he still must reach greater heights to build his own feelings of self-worth and self-respect. It is at this point that a person approaches his fullest potential. A wise leader will be aware of this need for adventure and self-fulfillment in his players. The coach will use the players’ desire for adventure as a means to inspire his players to greater accomplishments.

Leadership is the art of influencing others to perform as a team to accomplish a common goal. A knowledge of what motivates a player and what makes him behave in a certain manner helps a leader to create those situations that will stimulate the players to constructive action toward the team goals.

QUESTION: Do YOU know the principles behind accomplishing this?

No coach can hope to know all about every player on his team. But, understanding some common factors in people can help a leader to understand his players and thus to more effectively guide them to a level of productivity that leads to a great season.

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