Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for August, 2014

The 5 P’s of Success

Posted by admin August - 29 - 2014 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

Game day! Our Word of the Week is PREPARATION. In my talk to the team yesterday, I shared how essential following the “5 P’s of Success” is in life. Oh… Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!!! Notice the emphasis on Proper. I always ask them if this statement is true: “Practice makes perfect.” Some of them always fall for it! Why? cuz, it’s one of those “sayings” that gets repeated and just becomes accepted as being wise and true. But… it is NOT! The only practice that makes perfect is… perfect practice!

We spend a lot of time encouraging hustle during practice. We run everywhere. Once they’re off the practice field they can walk. While on the field, they run. We talk a lot about focus and paying attention to details. If a player has a missed assignment, we go back and correct it. All of these things are reminders that our practices must be performed at a high level— physically and mentally. We watch game video of our opponents and show our players keys to look for. With Hudl, we encourage them to watch video at home. We give scouting reports and game plans, etc. and etc.!! We review a lot in practice so everyone is comfortable with that game plan. We always make sure that we have a back-up ready at each position. I don’t care what type of athlete he is, we just want someone ready to go on the field in an “emergency” situation. He knows how to line up and he knows his assignment. Take care of the details, coaches!

Then last night, I got home and saw this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated on the table. NFL Preview week! I immediately turned to the article on Russell Wilson of the Seahawks. Since he is from my home state of Virginia, it was of particular interest. About half-way into the article, the writer talked about Russell’s relationship with his dad. There were 2 slogans that Harrison Wilson hammered into his son. I only remember one! and… that’s because it hit home so powerfully with what I’ve been “preaching” to our players all week. The slogan is: “Separation through preparation.” WOW!!! That’s exactly why I hold “preparation” in such high regard. It’s how you separate yourself, your team, your organization from the rest of the pack.

One other thing. I heard this one years ago from Lou Holtz. I’ve mentioned on here before that “Daddy Lou” was my head coach at William and Mary. It was his first head coaching experience. One thing he said a lot was “Failing to prepare is… preparing to FAIL!” PROPER preparation has been a hallmark of my coaching tenure. I want our players to go out there Friday night and have a “been there; done that” attitude! Nothing surprises them because we have spent the time during the week getting them ready.

How Much Contact During Practice?

Posted by admin August - 19 - 2014 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

We have had an unusual pre-season this year. August in the Tidewater region of Virginia is usually in the mid 90’s with humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife. It has been amazingly “cool” this year! One day in the 90’s and the rest in the lower to mid 80’s…. God is goooooood!

The other aspect of this pre-season that has been unusual is how quickly it has gone by. We started on Friday, August 1st. We had our first scrimmage on Monday, August 11th. Then our second scrimmage in the same week on Friday. (I’ll never do that again!!!) Now, this week is “game week!” We open on Friday with a tough opponent. Thus, my dilemma.

With 5-6 less days of practice (we are not allowed to start practice before August 1st), we had only a couple of days of full contact before we had to scrimmage another team. The players’ bodies were simply not conditioned to deal with all of the hitting that went on in a 2 hour live scrimmage. Three of our best (and toughest) players sat out our second scrimmage because of minor injuries that occurred in the first scrimmage. My conclusion is this: although we hardly ever go full live contact to the ground tackling in practice, our players needed more time to acclimate their bodies to the contact they have to absorb when full pads—live hitting occurs in pre-season practices.

I understand the concern about coaches who go waaaaaaay overboard and hit every day in practice and never relent. But, maybe the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. If little or no contact is allowed by state agencies I think we may be setting up our players for problems when they line up for real on Friday nights. I know some states have advocated a limit on how many minutes a day or a week that a team can hit. Sounds good but… who’s going to monitor it?

As I stated earlier, we rarely tackle live to the ground in practice. I learned this a loooooong time ago from my outstanding high school coach whom I played for. His philosophy was: “If they’re going to get hurt, let it be on Friday during the game— not during practice.” This philosophy has served my teams well over the years. We hit, we wrap but nobody goes to the ground. It teaches players the Pete Carroll mantra of “drive for five.” We blow the whistle and everyone lets off.

It’s a contact sport. Kids need to get accustomed to that contact during the week. Being judicious about the amount of contact your players have is the best way to go. Don’t get ’em too banged up on Tuesday and Wednesday so they can’t perform on Friday night!

Living Life God’s Way!

Posted by admin August - 11 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

I’ve had the joy of discipling one of my former players this summer. He started attending my church in June when he got home from college and has been worshipping with us all summer. He leaves for college on Friday so I had lunch with him yesterday. We covered a lot of ground as we ate— dealing with what this Christian life really looks like! I came upon something this morning that I think sums up what it means to live the Christian life. You have to: Live life God’s way.

There are 3 important truths that will help you enjoy the life that God wants you to live. The first is: Believe that God wants you to succeed. The Bible is pretty emphatic that God loves us and wants to see us happy and successful. God is with us. God is for us! He will never leave you nor forsake you. But, it requires giving your heart to Jesus first. You have to “join His team” before you come under His guardianship. Life has value. God has a special work for His adopted children (see John 1:12.)

Someone once asked me, “What defines success?” Here’s a great answer: Success is the progressive achievement of a God-given goal resulting in feeling good about yourself.

Secondly, Consult God before you set goals. The Bible says, “We should make plans— counting on God to direct us” (Prov. 16:9 TLB.) If you find yourself constantly stressed out and anxious, you may be on the wrong track… from where God wants you to be! It’s necessary to go back and check with God to confirm what He has shown you to do. Taking the idea from the first point, God wants us to succeed in 6 areas in our lives: a) spiritual; b) relational; c) physical; d) mental; e) social; and f) financial.

Finally, Invest in yourself. One of the best passages in the Old Testament is when Solomon became king. God visited him and asked Solomon what he desired more than anything. Solomon’s reply? Wisdom! Solomon wrote in Proverbs, “Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7.) You need to recognize the importance of gaining wisdom— not knowledge— but the “common sense” that only comes from Holy Spirit. If you’re willing to spend money at expensive restaurants or buy fine wines but not on good books, your future is already determined! The first book you need to invest in is a Bible. (and get a version that you can understand! I prefer the New International Version.) John writes, “And the Word was God” (John 1:1.) That means that every time you read God’s Word, you’re depositing more of God into you. Wow!!! Think how that affects your character. It’s important to cultivate a teachable spirit. Again in Proverbs, Solomon writes, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning” (Prov. 1:5.) This is living life God’s way. Do you want joy, peace and an unshakable confidence that God is in control? Give your heart to Jesus and then begin to live the life that God wants you to.

Kisses!

Posted by admin August - 8 - 2014 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

We’re in the midst of “Camp Week.” We bring them in at 3pm and stay till 8:30. We get a lot of work done ON the field but a lot of “team building” goes on off the field too. We have an hour break from 5:30-6:30 where we give them a chance to eat a light snack. The moms bring popsicles every day and the guys get a chance to just “hang out.” We have a team building activity each day also.

Something happened yesterday, though, that I wanted to bring to other coaches’ attention. We announced on Tuesday that the O linemen would have a blocking rules test on Thursday. I could immediately sense the anxiety level rising in the group as I made the announcement! I’ll chalk it up to a “Holy Spirit Moment” cuz… just as I realized how they were reacting (negative emotional vibes), I sensed the Lord saying: “Give them Kisses!” huh??!!!

I continued with, “Guys, here’s the deal. You’ll get 10 questions. For every rule you get right, Coach will give you a piece of candy… a Hershey’s Kiss!” Oh my gosh!!!! You’d have thought we had just proclaimed that Thursday was going to be the new Christmas day!!! The negativism vanished and they were bubbling like we’d offered a silver dollar for every right answer! Unbelievable!

My point? There is certainly a place for punishment. But don’t forget the power of positive reinforcement!!! I shared this in my book, 101 Little Things That Can Make a BIG Difference: “If you want a behavior repeated, reward it!” Simple behavioral psychology principle. And it works!

The test results by the way were excellent! We had 4 linemen who got all 10 rules correct; 7 more who only got 1 wrong and 5 more who only got 2 wrong. We had several who were in the 50-60% range but… they are rookies and their head is still swimming from everything we’re throwing at them. But, at least they got several correct.

Instead of worrying about the impending test, the kids got fired up and (obviously) studied their rules Wednesday night! Why? So they could earn a reward!

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