Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for June, 2016

Team Camps

Posted by admin June - 30 - 2016 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

I’ve been on the “other side” (of Camping) the past 2 weeks! By that, I mean: I was the Camp Director. Instead of “receiving” the instruction from a visiting coach… I was the instructor! I conducted a team Wing T Camp for a school in Virginia Beach last week and led one in Chesapeake, Va. (my home city— next door to Va. Beach) this week. In fact, we ended up today.

Some things I can tell you about summer camps now that I’ve conducted a couple:

1) Get a coach who knows HOW to coach. If you’re a Wing T team, make sure that the coach you bring in has a vast knowledge of this offense but… is also able to teach it. Teach it to both your staff and your players!

2) I’d find a high school coach who meets the criteria in point #1 above. Yes, college coaches are further up the food chain. But, that’s why I’d want a high school coach as opposed to someone who coaches at the college level. If you don’t know it, there is a vast difference between the things that colleges are able to do as opposed to high schools. A Camp (to me) should be about fundamentals and basics.

3) Ask the visiting instructor to set up his Camp practice schedule the same way he conducts his team’s practice schedule during the season. There are drills and skills that you can learn from someone else’s practice schedule that can be very helpful. For instance (and this is for my Wing T friends out there), how I run our “Shoulder Skills” period is a bit unique. It teaches a lot of Wing T blocking skills that you can’t get from any other drill. One thing we do is put the big “Bertha” bags on the sideline. The players MUST keep the bag on the painted line as he drives it for 5 yards to the next line. It teaches getting that great inside/out angle while “controlling” that bag for 5 yards. IF the player does not keep it on the (side)line, he has to go again. Both schools that I “camped” at these 2 weeks really liked this drill.

4) Finally, you must be willing to pay the coach/es who come in to lead your camp. He’s performing an important service to your program and should be compensated for his time and effort.

Summer team camps are great! I also think you don’t have to travel. Invite a coach to come to your school. Provide a lunch so your staff can talk some football when the day’s work is over. It’s a BIG plus for your coaches and your players!!!

PAY ATTENTION… to Details!

Posted by admin June - 21 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

First… just “pay attention!” Then… “pay attention to details.” It all starts from getting kids to focus long enough to learn. If you can do that, things will go so much better.

I had the pleasure of teaching/leading a Wing T Camp that I’m putting on for a school in Virginia Beach, VA today and tomorrow. A great bunch of kids and the coaching staff is doing an outstanding job. We got a LOT accomplished today. However, the (what I call) “learning environment” could use some improvement. It made me wonder what it’s like in the classrooms in that school…. any high school. Trying to get everyone quiet so I can teach/explain something is hard… especially if I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me as a “visiting” coach to come down on the kids if they aren’t paying attention. It’s why I’ve always said that I want my practices to be my classroom. We’re going to be organized, cooperative and respectful. This, by the way, works BOTH ways! The teacher/coach must SHOW respect if he wants to earn respect. If I going to teach effectively, I need students/players engaged and focused. They can’t do this to the best of their ability unless they are 1) quiet and 2) truly listening.

Anyway… when I would stop a drill to explain something in detail, it was very hard to keep everyone’s attention. The player I was “coaching up” was focused on what I was saying but I’m sure it was hard for him to pay attention because most everyone around him took this one-on-one instruction time as a sign that they could chit-chat and laugh it up with their friends. I was good… I kept my tongue under control, though and I pressed on. (with a grimace on my face!!!)

I would recommend that coaches have some kind of signal to use when you need everyone’s undivided attention. I believe I mentioned this in an earlier post but it’s worth repeating. Whether it’s short blasts on your whistle or a verbal command, your players need to know that it’s time to 1- get their eyes up; 2- their mouths shut and 3- their ears open! I do this with a verbal command of: “READY- READY!!!” The players’ response is: “TEAM!”— while everyone claps. We practice it a few times until it gets imprinted on their minds then I explain what they need to know.

The next time I need everyone’s undivided attention, I again shout: “READY- READY!” and, hopefully!, everyone responds! If they don’t, they get to get down in an “up” pushup position and hold it there for 5-7 seconds. I then shout “READY READY” from there and see if they can pop up off the ground high enough to clap from that pushup position! I point out to them that it’s much easier to clap while standing up… so don’t forget next time!

Speak Life!

Posted by admin June - 17 - 2016 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

One of the core values of my church, Community Church @ Western Branch, Chesapeake, VA, is: “Speak Life.” It amazes me what a word of encouragement can do for someone. It may seem like its of little import to you but… the person receiving it?? It can be life-changing!

Most of us have heard the story of the boy who was on his way home from school one day with ALL of his books in hand. A neighborhood girl passed him as he walked toward his house and told him that she appreciate his help in Math class today… that he was really smart. The boy shared later with his parents that he’d planned to go home and commit suicide that afternoon cuz nobody at school liked him. But the girl’s comment had changed everything and literally “saved” his life!

Our words can have just as much impact on our players’ lives. You never know when a word of encouragement can lift someone out of the dumps. I had occasion on Monday to see a boy “light up” when I spoke to him at the end of the workout.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve been riding over at 6:30 am to a local school on Mondays to help them install the Delaware Wing T offense. This past Monday was the last one of the spring. I had noticed that the guy they had working at right tackle was very unsure of himself back in April when we started. He lacked aggressiveness because he lacked self-confidence. As the Mondays went by, I was drawn to this young man and kept explaining things to him. He was showing improvement each week. I pulled him aside on the way in off the field this week (because it was our last workout), shook his hand and said to him, “I’m very proud of you!” He looked at me a bit quizzically. I followed with, “Yes, verrrrry proud of you! You have shown soooooooo much improvement from the beginning till now. You are going to be a “beast” this fall!”

Wellllllll…. he lit up like a Christmas tree. I think he “floated” to the locker room. He had a big ole smile on his face and a giddyup in his step. I hope that I made his day. And, perhaps, his whole season! I was glad that God had given me the nudge to go over and speak to this young man and bless him.

Make time to encourage your players; your wife; your kids. They get enough negatives that slipping in a positive comment will do wonders for their self-esteem. We could save a lot of money on trophies and certificates if the people in charge would just take the time to let the kids they work with know how much they are appreciated. Speak “LIFE!!!”

Summer Workouts

Posted by admin June - 8 - 2016 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

For only the second time in the past 42 years do I find myself staying home when other schools are involved in their summer workouts. I stood and watched a 7 on 7 game last evening. It was fun to see the kids compete but at the same time I found myself kinda evaluating things as they unfolded. I had one head coach stop by and chat about how “this 7 on 7 stuff is a waste of time.” I’m not sure I agree. Here are some benefits to keeping your players engaged throughout the summer.

First, and most importantly!— if they’re not playing football, they’re going to find something else to do! Teens like to stay active— at least the ones you want playing for you. The “couch potatoes” and “game-boy experts” are rarely going to participate in a team sport like football. It’s outdoors; it’s hot and there are other people around to interact with. It’s the multiple sport athletes that you want to be coming to football workouts. If you don’t offer some type of competitive activity, they’ll go find a basketball game or track meet to compete in.

Coming right on the heels of that is: you want to keep your football players together as much as possible during the summer. 7 on 7 tournaments, weight-lifting, speed training, “skills n drills”— all of which are important to improving individual skills but also, build team unity.

As far as 7 on 7 itself, I think it has a number of benefits. True… it’s not “real” football but, you get to see which kids are athletic enough to run, catch and break on the ball in the air (on offense and defense.) How quickly does a player grasp what you’re trying to install? How well does he apply it on the field when the ball starts flying around? Admittedly, it is a bit “artificial” for the QB! I’ve seen too many “7 on 7 wunderkinds” who, once rushers and blitzers started coming at them they choked!, but… it lets you evaluate how well the QB sees the field and… is he understanding the concepts of your passing offense? I think the defense is where you gain the most in playing 7 on 7. With more teams focusing on the spread passing game, it makes sense to get as many looks as possible running your pass coverage. Does a player know where to line up? Does he understand where his zone is? Does he break on the ball when it’s in the air? These are all important skills that can be addressed in 7 on 7 games.

Even if you can’t play 7 on 7 against other schools in your area, compete intrasquad-wise. We played 7 on 7 against each other 1 night a week all summer. We even let the linemen join in if our numbers were low! They loved it and it gave them that “undercover conditioning” during the game. Kids like to be active and they like to compete. These are the 2 things that summer workouts provide. Get your players together and get them working! You will reap the benefits.

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