Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for March, 2015

3D Coaching

Posted by admin March - 31 - 2015 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I was asked to speak to a group of football coaches who were attending a clinic in Nags Head, NC last weekend. Interestly, it was not about football! The Fellowship of Christian Athletes Area Director for Coastal NC provided lunch for the coaches on Saturday. He invited me to come down and share my testimony with the coaches after lunch. It was a group of about 50 coaches. I talked about a subject that I’ve covered in this blog before: “Building a Fire Wall between who you are and what you do. The coaches seemed to be listening and several came up afterwards to thank me for the message.

Scott Williams, the FCA Area Director who invited me, was so nice. He gave me an FCA golf shirt but, more importantly, passed along a book that I want to encourage all coaches to read. Actually, anybody who works with kids should read this book! It’s entitled 3D Coach. Capturing the Heart Behind the Jersey. Great title! It’s by Jeff Duke.

Duke points out in the Introduction that this book (and this style of coaching) isn’t your typical coaching book. It’s not about X’s and 0’s or game planning or training techniques. He says that 3D Coach is about…”going deeper. It’s about seeing your athletes in three dimensions– body, mind and spirit. It’s about the art of coaching. It’s about discovering what your true purpose is as a coach and rediscovering the joy you may have lost along the way.”

The author relates his experiences—trials, errors and successes— in becoming a 3D coach. I’m looking forward to digging into the book and seeing what Coach Duke can teach me.

The theme of this book relates to my time this morning in a pick-up truck with my friend and his teenage daughter! Lemme splain! (That’s my reference to my all-time favorite movie! Anyone know which movie I’m talking about??!! Hint: “You killed my father; prepare to die!)

I have been meeting with this young man for almost 2 months now. We normally meet at Chic Fil A and have breakfast while we share what’s gone on in our lives during the past week, study the Bible a little bit and just encourage and challenge each other to live lives that honor God. This morning he had to run an errand. So instead of meeting at the restuarant, we rode out to a neighboring city in his truck to pick up some supplies that he needed for work. On the way, he got a text from his teenage daughter that she was sent to the office because of “inappropriate dress”; i.e., wearing leggings with no shorts over them. My buddy was fuming! I said, “Come on, let’s ride over there and get her… take her home and change and we’ll drive her back to school. And, oh… now we can both “embarrass” her for not following the school’s rules!”

During the ride home, his daughter asked me, “Coach J., do you think my dad can coach soccer?!” A loaded question! I replied, “I think your dad could coach any sport and do well!” My buddy chimed in, “I may not know much about soccer but I can learn the game. What I do know is how to coach kids!” That really struck me.

With the knowledge of just having started to read 3D Coach fresh in my mind, I asked my friend to explain what he meant. I might add that this guy is a highly successful businessman! He stated, “A coach may not be the most knowledgeable about his sport but… he knows how to motivate kids. He knows how to build relationships with his players so that they want to play for him. His players know that they mean more to him than just being a great soccer or baseball player.” I thought to myself that this is exactly what Coach Duke is stressing in his book!

If we really want to impact the lives of our players, we have to be more than “one-dimensional” coaches. Too often we fall into the category of being a “task-oriented” coach. We are demanding a lot from our players because we want them (and us!) to be successful. That will ultimately lead to a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration. Duke calls this “one-dimensional” coaching style the “method that focuses mostly on the physical aspects of sport.”

I’ve mentioned before in previous posts what an admirer of the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, I am. I love this quote of his: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that separates the great coaches from the average ones.” Coach Wooden is saying that great coaches continue to be “students of the game” well into their careers. Great coaches continue to search out new ways to teach, to encourage and challenge their players.

Do you want to be a great coach? business leader? parent? Then you need to find new ways to “coach” based on what your athletes need. It’s a new world out there. What may have worked in the past may need some modifying or just plain overhauling! I want to encourage you to learn to be a “three-dimensional” coach. Yes, build up that players’ physical body; challenge them to become mentally tougher but… don’t forget to help them mature in their spiritual life too.

“Cultural” Responsibilities For Coaches

Posted by admin March - 25 - 2015 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

The leaders of my church had our quarterly summit the other night. Our pastor shared many important items but the one that caught my attention the most was when he talked about “Cultural Responsibilities” for the leadership in our church. As I listened and took notes, I realized that this could easily be applied to any organization… including a football coaching staff.

These are responsibilities that we as coaches (starting with the Head Coach setting the standard) have to 1- live out and 2- pass down the line… first from the Head Coach to assistants and then the whole staff to the players. Here are a few of them:

1- Always have a “can do” attitude. One of the mantras I use that helps build mental toughness in our players is to make them say out loud: “I Can Do This!” When they want to quit, it’s time to hear positive self-talk.

2- “Have to” should be removed from our vocabulary! Rather, we need to think along the lines of I “get to do this. An attitude of “have to” means we are ruled by minimums instead of maximums.

3- Never say “I didn’t know.” say, “I’ll fix it!” Creates an atmosphere of personal responsibility… which, in my opinion, is sadly lacking in much of our culture today.

4- I do not gossip. Nothing kills momentum faster than gossip. Nothing destroys unity faster than gossip. You need to have a “0 tolerance” policy about gossip among your staff and players.

5- My tone of voice is encouraging. People have an internal antenna that responds to others’ comments in a powerful, emotional manner. We need to “Speak Life” into the hearts and minds of our coaches and players… particularly our players!

6-Delegate, but do not dump! For head coaches to assistants. For assistants to player… there is a huge difference between delegating and dumping. Don’t give someone under you a job that you aren’t willing to do. Don’t give someone a job without giving him the tools he needs to get it done.

7- Live with an attitude that says: “The BEST is yet to come!” This perspective creates and sustains hope. When a team loses hope, the likelihood of success decreases exponentially. When everyone else is discouraged, you as the Head Coach have to continue to “preach” this philosophy: “It’s going to get better! We’re making progress! The BEST is yet to come!”

If you want to change the atmosphere in your program; in your business; in your family… then as the leader, you have to carry the responsibility of being the “change agent” that produces a more positive environment. These 7 responsibilities will help you begin to “turn the ship!”

Sun Tsu

Posted by admin March - 18 - 2015 - Wednesday 3 COMMENTS

I watched a program on the Military channel last night that I think I saw about 5 years ago. This time, since I’m back in coaching, it was much more relevant. One of the experts they interviewed throughout the program made a point that Sun Tsu’s The Art of War book has been used by professionals in a number of different jobs. He even mentioned sports. It got my attention. I had to sit back and ask myself (so now I’m asking you coaches out there too!) what is my plan of attack? What kind of strategy do I use in coaching HS football? Do I utilize Sun Tsu’s concept of “occupying a territory” (based on the Chinese game of “go”) or am I more of a “chess player”— coaching a game of attrition? I felt like that was one of the key points brought out on the program.

I would be interested in hearing from any of my readers who have studied Sun Tsu’s principles in developing football strategy. Is there a book that you can recommend to me to read about applying Sun Tsu’ principles to coaching?

Any takers?? Thanks!!!

Giver or Taker?

Posted by admin March - 11 - 2015 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

I read something interesting recently that caused me to pause… The opening question was: Are you a Giver or a Taker?

Then the writer said that if I’m not sure how I’d answer that question… to think about this for a minute: Consider certain TV personalities. Even though they may have genuine talent their main motivation is ratings, image or approval. Dan Reiland, a Leadership Coach, says that “If communicators teach out of need, insecurity, ego, or even responsibility, they’re not giving. The needy person wants praise—something the audience must give. The egotistical person wants to be lifted up, to be superior and just a little bit better than everyone else—something the audience must give. Even the person motivated by responsibility wants to be recognized as the faithful worker, to be seen as responsible— something the audience gives. Many communicators teach in one of these modes all the time and aren’t aware of it.

Then there’s the giver. This person teaches out of love, grace, gratitude, compassion, passion and the overflow. These are all giving modes. In each of these modes of the heart the audience doesn’t have to give anything— only receive. The teaching then becomes a gift. It fills and renews.”

As coaches, parents, teachers and leaders of any sort out there reading this, I’ll ask you the same thing: are you a giver or a taker? I encourage you to ask God to help you become a giver and not a taker!

Live FULLY Alive!

Posted by admin March - 4 - 2015 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

One of the core values at my church, Community Church @ Western Branch, is: Live fully alive. What exactly does this mean? One of my favorite Bible verses is a quote from Jesus in the Gospel of John. It’s “I (Jesus!) have come to bring you life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV.

I read recently that psychologists have begun to speak of what is perhaps our biggest mental (and spiritual)health problem in our culture today. They call it “FTT,” which means “Failure To Thrive.” When a person has it they’re still able to function, but they seemingly have lost their sense of hope and meaning in their life. Interestingly, FTT isn’t the presence of a mental/spiritual illness, it’s the absence of mental, spiritual and emotional vitality.

In ancient lists of the “7 deadly sins” it was called acedia, which means “weariness of soul and inability to delight in life.” It’s exactly why Jesus looked out over a crowd of people gathered around Him; people who had broken marriages and dead-end jobs… and a feeling inside them that “I have no joy” and proclaimed that verse: “… I have come to bring you life… and life in its fullest!”

God knows what you are going through. Like those dry bones in the Book of Ezekiel that God made come alive in front of Ezekiel, God… through His Holy Spirit… can make you come alive again too. And, help you to thrive!

Paul said in the Book of Ephesians… talking about Believers and the church… that, in Christ, “the whole body builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” That’s saying that the parts of the Body help each other in the growing process. Unity and maturity are notmutually exclusive! One builds up the other just as one of us builds up another!

God wants you to to flourish so that others can be encouraged by you and thus… they can write music, help sick people and churches can thrive in ways they otherwise couldn’t. Get out of your comfort zone and get into the water. I absolutely love the lyrics of the Hillsong United song, “Oceans!” It goes: “You call me out upon the waters; the great unknown where feet may fail. And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep… my faith will stand.” Check it out… you’ll love it!

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