Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for July, 2016

2 More “P’s of Success!”

Posted by admin July - 26 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I hope a few of you have read my book or at least have followed this blog for awhile! If not, you need to know that my key to successful high school coaching (record as head coach over a 31 year career was 219-83) was: “The 5 P’s of Success!” Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

I’ve been mentoring 4-5 coaches this off-season as they prepare to run their Wing T offense this season. It has been fun to help others and… to see the progress that they’re making. But, as I’ve watched a couple of them go through Summer Team Camps where they’re been live 11 on 11, I’ve seen/heard the frustration that they’ve felt as they state that their offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders at this point like they’d want it to. What I’ve shared with them the last 2 days applies to ALL coaches. I’ve added 2 more “P’s of Success” to my formula!!! They are: PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE.

The Bible says that “patience is a virtue.” I know a lot of high school coaches who need God’s Holy Spirit to pour a lot of patience into their souls! Patience requires self control. It means remaining calm when you expect things to somehow be progressing. (Think: waiting in line at the toll booth or Disney World!!!) Kids learn at different speeds and in different ways. You’ve going to see a LOT of mistakes— especially early on when practice is just beginning. Your ability to continue to “TEACH” instead of becoming frustrated and getting upset will go a long way in building your players’ confidence. I don’t think any of your players want to intentionally mess up! If you don’t know the Fable of the Stonecutter, you need to go back about a year in my Library and find it. It’s the epitome of why patience is soooooo important.

The second P of Success is PERSISTENCE. Winston Churchill’s speech during World War II is one of my favorites and one my players always remark about when I run into them after they’ve graduated. It’s a reminder to: “Never give up and… NEVER give in!” Never give “IN” to what? Welllllll…now we’re back to “Patience!” We don’t give in to our frustrations. We don’t give in to our negative thoughts. We don’t give in to that desire to quit when things aren’t going well. We don’t give in— we stay patient and we continue to work hard. When things seem the bleakest is when a true leader steps up and leads his people through to the other side.

One of my favorite Bible passages is Philippians 3:13-14. It says to: “Forget what is past.” (You can’t do anything about it now!) So, “…straining on toward what is ahead, I PRESS ON toward the goal to win the prize…”

Press on, folks! and… NEVER give up and NEVER give in!!!

TEAM BUILDERS

Posted by admin July - 18 - 2016 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

I’m at the beach with my family this week. I’m normally preparing for the preseason practices for my team to begin. NOT this year! I still find myself “thinking football” though! For those of you who DO have to plan your preseason schedules, something popped into my head last night that I thought I should pass along to you.

Our first week of preseason practice was also our “Camp” week. We’d bring the team in at 6 am and start practice at 6:30. I regret that I didn’t start doing this earlier in my career. What a difference it is to be out in the August heat and humidity early in the morning rather than going out later in the afternoon! We bought some synthetic footballs to use when the dew was still thick on the grass… so we wouldn’t waterlog our good balls. Keep some towels available and the synthetic balls work well.

After a 2 to 2 1/2 hour practice, we’d come inside. We get out of the heat and out of our pads and enjoy some “team time.” The mom’s would bring popsicles and the guys would hang out in the locker room for 20-30 minutes. We’d include some “white board” or “Hudl video” time if needed. But the highlight of the Break was the “Team Builder” period!

I brought in motivational speakers every other day to share a message with our team. There are quality speakers available in your community who will come in and share for free. You don’t have to pay people for their time. If they want to be remunerated for their time, then their heart isn’t in the right place and you don’t need them! Give them 20 minutes to inspire or challenge your players. It was always worthwhile.

The opposite days, we did some type of team-building exercise. I have written about these before on this site. So, if you’re new check out the previous posts. The one I thought about last night that I want to emphasize today is: “Egg Roulette!” I first saw this on a YouTube video of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. We did it for the first time 2 years ago and we had so much fun with it that the players were adamant that we had to do it again this past season!

It requires some preparation on your part. Buy a dozen eggs. Hard boil 8 of them— NOT all 12!!! You want 4 of them to remain “normal.” Set up a table at the front of your team/locker room with 2 chairs across from each other and the carton of eggs sitting in the middle of the table. I’d also suggest that you spread out a plastic cloth across the table and even onto the floor around it. It’s going to get messy!!!

Let your players select one veteran and one rookie to represent the team. Those two come forward and get seated across from each other. Give each of the remaining players 1 or 2 Hershey’s Kisses. We use these all the time for “betting chips” and rewards for answering such questions as blocking rules or proper alignment. They don’t cost much so keep a huge bag in your desk. You can give them out any time you want. Anyway… every player gets to “bet” on which player they think is going to “win” the Egg Roulette. They place their “bet” on the side of the table where their man is sitting. It’s always interesting to watch the dynamics of this; i.e., which player they put their “money” on.

The contest begins with one of the players selecting 1 of the 12 eggs. NOTE: all 12 look the same! The players do NOT know which eggs are hard boiled. They cannot pick it up and shake it. They simply choose an egg, pick it up and crack it on their head!! The goal is to “find” the hard boiled eggs. IF… they crack one of the 4 “regular” eggs— of course, it’s going to be real messy! The kids love it! They’re cheering and booing. They’re encouraging “their” player on which egg he should (or shouldn’t) select. Of course, one more “regular” egg on his head and he loses. The 2 players continue to go back and forth until one of them cracks TWO of the “regular” eggs on his head. At that point, the game is over! The players who bet on the winner not only get their Kiss but collect the Kisses from the players who bet on the losing player.

It’s great fun! It’s a great way to get their minds off of the heat and humidity. Most importantly, it’s building a memory that the players will carry with them for a long time. It’s one of the things that makes football such a great team sport!!!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Posted by admin July - 12 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Aretha Franklin sang about it in the 70’s. People are crying out for it every day. We need to realize in this country until we start showing (genuine) respect for others…. especially people from different races and backgrounds than us… this world isn’t going to change!!!

I had the pleasure of worshiping at a church on Sunday where the pastor is a former assistant coach on my staff from years ago. We’ve remained close friends throughout the years (25 or so) while he pursued other things in his life. God put a calling on his life about 10 years ago and he went to Divinity School to get his M Div so he could become an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was a great motivational speaker when he spoke to the team when we coached together. He was even more powerful from the pulpit! Pastor Sam talked at length about the division we face in this country today and HOW we can change things. He was adamant: “It is only through the love of Jesus Christ and the Body of Christ coming together to 1- share this love with other churches and 2- then, UNITED, sharing this love with a nation that’s hurting are we ever going to see change; i.e., racial reconciliation, take place in America.

Oh…. did I mention that Pastor Sam is Black and his church is an AME Zion church? Yes, totally African American. Mine was the only white face in the crowd. And, you know what? I was completely comfortable— though I knew that some of the congregation were wondering “what the heck is HE doing here? Especially after what took place in our nation the last few days!” I was there for 3 reasons: 1- I love Jesus! 2- I love Pastor Sam Warren and 3- I love those people in Sam’s congregation! God impressed upon me Saturday night that He wanted me to go to Hood Chapel on Sunday to support my Brother-in-Christ. Sam was hurting. He is my friend– my Brother! Holy Spirit said to “go!” I was welcomed by his congregation— a bunch of wonderful, godly folks. It was a special time… one I will never forget. Oh, I plan to go back and worship with them some more!

I had another conversation with another pastor, white guy, yesterday. He knew of our program’s success during my coaching career. He wanted to know how I was able to “relate” to my African American players (the majority of our team rosters were Black) so well over the years. First off, I gave credit to Coach Sam Warren (of whom I just spoke). Sam showed me how to relate to these kids… from a different racial background. It really was pretty simple (in theory!): just LOVE these kids. SHOW THEM RESPECT! Let them know that not only are they athletes but that you care about them as people. Their self-worth is found in being part of a team where every player is RESPECTED… for his talent AND as a person! Sam was instrumental in “changing the culture” in our program. In just his second year with us, we went 10-0 and captured our District championship. The kids knew that we loved them and respected them enough that we were NOT going to be satisfied with anything less than their best— on AND off the field. With Sam’s influence, I forged friendships with our players, black and white, that I still cherish and maintain today. We took the “theory” and put it into PRACTICE. That part is NOT easy. It requires WORK!!! But, together, Coach/Pastor Sam and I brought about changes that propelled those kids to be the best they could be. I’m proud to have been a part of it.

I was reared by two parents who taught my sister and I to be “color blind.” People are people and we need to look on the inside. If we’re going to judge” (NOT “condemn” but judge/evaluate) people, do it based on their character— NOT the color of their skin! Once I gave my life to Jesus at age 33, I had the power of God’s Holy Spirit to help me do this! Now, I look at people— regardless of their race or cultural background— and try to see them the same way God sees them… through eyes of love. It’s not easy. That’s why I have to rely on Holy Spirit’s strength to get me “over some humps”— when I see things happening in our nation which upset me terribly. It’s time to “change our culture.”

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Show me just a little respect.” are the lyrics to the song! Good words to live by.

Coaching and Ministry

Posted by admin July - 8 - 2016 - Friday 1 COMMENT

My heart is heavy today as I hear the tv news channel in the next room going on and on about all of the violence and hate exhibited in our country over the last few days. It’s disturbing; it’s shocking; it’s depressing… it’s disgusting!!! There are agents of evil at work in our culture who want nothing more than to see as much turmoil as possible. They revel in the hate and misery that is so apparent lately. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I need to stand up and declare that God is still in control and we need to turn to Him if we ever want to solve these problems. Diversity training and other such classes do NOT change a person’s heart. Only Jesus can do that!

As coaches and leaders of our next generation, it becomes even more important that we set an example for our young people. There are values that this country is built upon that we as individuals must present to those we have influence over. I always felt strongly while I was actively coaching that I had a responsibility to be a positive role model and to be an ambassador for Christ to the young people I worked with. If you are a Christian, I want to encourage you to recognize that Jesus is counting on you!!! He’s counting on you to show the young people whom you work with that there is a way of love… not hate. That there is a way of mercy and forgiveness and not anger and aggression. I truly believe that you will experience a new level of fulfillment when you begin to see that what you do (coaching) is an important part of God’s will for your life. We frequently talk about God’s will as some sort of “mystery” that God somehow keeps hidden from us. NO! It’s exactly the opposite. My point is: why would He want to keep it a big secret??!! He’s showing us through His Word and through circumstances HOW He wants us to live our lives! We just need to “open the eyes of our hearts” to see (and hear) His calling on our life.

When you’re coaching, do it with a thankful heart, as though the Lord is your boss— because He is! When you work with that attitude, you will come alive. When each of us is doing what God has called us to do, the world around us is a better place. All skill is God-given. By living in conscious interaction with Holy Spirit, we can further develop those skills He’s given us. That’s when we start changing the world for better… one heart and mind at a time.

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