Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for September, 2016

“Unity! Pride!! TOTAL Effort!!!”

Posted by admin September - 21 - 2016 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

I am reminded each time I see young people today about how our culture is “trying” to teach our youth to just be average. How to be apathetic. How to be fearful. But then I get around athletes (football players, anyway) and I am once again reminded of the impact that athletics CAN (not always does!) have on building character and teaching young men that striving for excellence in ALL that they do is honorable and the best way to conduct their lives.

I spoke to the team at the public school where I coached for 34 years last Thursday. I felt like they needed to hear from an “outsider” about how they need to continue to strive for excellence… though they had lost their first 2 games. I told them that I came there to accomplish 2 things: 1- to show support for their head coach and 2- to encourage them. I talked to them about the foundation of the program when I was the head coach. Those cornerstones were: Unity. Pride. and TOTAL Effort.

No organization is going to succeed if they are lacking in unity. If they’re more worried about themselves (their playing time; their number of carries; their number of tackles) than the team, they are sure to keep on losing. But… if they will adopt the philosophy (which I got from Bo Schembechler when he was the HC at the U. of Michigan) of “BIG Team. Little Me,” they would see a change in their team’s performance.

I told them that they need to have pride. Not arrogance but a humble pride in knowing that they worked very hard to prepare for this season and NOW it was time to reap the benefits. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished… just like an artist does after creating a work of art.

Finally, they shouldn’t ever mistake “activity for achievement.” IF… they will play unified. IF… they will carry themselves with a high degree of self-respect, then… they will play hard EVERY play! They won’t just go out and go through the motions but they will give a TOTAL effort on every play.

If they will do that, they will see changes. Not just in their won-loss record (though they probably will!), but in how they feel about their teammates and coaches… and football in general. It’ll be fun again— instead of a chore!

The coach told me at church on Sunday that it was one of the most gratifying experiences he’d had as a football coach. The kids played hard; they played together and there was a synergy that can only be found in team sports.

And, by the way, they won!!!

God Has Something Better

Posted by admin September - 13 - 2016 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Kudo’s to Bob Gass Ministries again for “nailing” it this morning in their Word For You Today devotion. It really spoke to a situation that a coaching friend of mine is dealing with. The gist of the devotion this morning will be an encouragement to him and to many of you, too, I think.

It’s a capsulized look at Joseph’s life… and how, regardless of his circumstances, God was with him and had something better planned for his life. First, his brother’s sold him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Egypt where he rose in power until his boss’s wife came on to him and he refused her advances. She cried “rape” (falsely) but her husband believed her— not Joseph. Joseph gets thrown in jail. As Pastor Gass points out, “Some of us would have said, ‘It’s not fair. I did the right thing. Maybe I should have had some fun, kept my job and even gotten a promotion.’ Not Joseph! At that point in his life (here’s the KEY!) there was no better place for him to be, because he was exactly where God wanted him.”

Sometimes when we hit rock bottom, we fear that the “good life” as we know it is over. But, God has bigger plans for you. God had something much bigger for Joseph to accomplish. He has that for you too. God knows exactly where He’s taking you and He knows the lessons you must learn along the way. When things are at their worst, instead of succumbing to fear or self-pity or giving up… look for God’s hand in that situation.

I need to add that none of this works if all you have is a “passing relationship” with God. He requires a commitment to him the same way you ask for a commitment from your players. That comes by going ‘all in” for Jesus. Jesus offers the open door to God and heaven that nobody or nothing else can. Soooooooo… think about this today: are you willing to turn things over to Jesus and let HIM be your “Head Coach?!” Cuz, if you are, then God will begin to implement His plan for your life. and… God’s way is ALWAYS better than ours!!!

Injured Players

Posted by admin September - 8 - 2016 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

The team I’m “consulting” for won their opener on Monday. After getting rained out by the Tropical Storm Friday and Saturday, they finally got to play on Monday. It was gratifying to sit in the press box and see the Wing T that I helped install being executed so well. I made a few suggestions to the HC (who’s the OC) and passed on information about the defense’s reactions. They scored 5 times and did not have a turn-over. A good day’s work!

However, the star RB went out of the game late in the 1st quarter with a knee injury. A low, diving tackle caught him with his leg planted on the artificial turf and he did not come back in the rest of the game. The bad news came later that night when the MRI they took revealed 2 torn ligaments. His (senior) season is over. A bitter pin to swallow for the player and the team.

My focus is: what do you do now? As a coach who cares about his players’ well-being, I think it’s incumbent upon you to make sure 2 things happen. One is from the team’s perspective and the other is from the injured player’s perspective.

First the team. A meeting with the leaders/captains/lieutenants is important followed by a meeting with the entire team. It’s probably better NOT to have the injured player there but it’s not imperative. What needs to be discussed is how the team is to treat their injured teammate now that they know he can’t contribute ON THE FIELD (that’s important!) anymore. They need to go out of their way to make the injured player feels like he is still a vital member of the team. He IS!!! We have a responsibility as coaches to make every player on the team understands his role and… that the role he plays is part of the “big scheme” of things that makes the team function properly. I like the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece in its proper place is important or the picture is unclear. The same thing with players on a team. It’s easy as the regular season progresses to forget that these are people… kids… who need the same encouragement and reinforcement as anyone else. Make sure that the players include the injured player. Above all else: don’t REJECT him or make him feel like he’s not important anymore!!!

I talked to the injured RB yesterday before practice. I told him that I was praying for him and would continue to do so. It was obvious that he was hurting— physically and emotionally. What I emphasized to him was: you are still an important part of this team. The worst thing you can do right now is to withdraw. You need to stay actively involved. Attend as many practices as you can. Be at the pregame meal. Prowl the sideline during the game by cheering on your teammates. Be a part of the team. Because you’re frustrated and disappointed, the natural tendency is to close yourself off and even feel sorry for yourself. NO! You need to be investing in your team. If he’s a captain, he especially needs to continue to lead.

We had a similar situation occur 3 seasons ago on the team I was coaching. I felt like we had a chance to be a really good team. We had a veteran bunch of talented seniors. The one guy who was not only a great player but kind of the “Inspirational Force” of the team (who we could NOT afford to lose)… of course, went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first game— just like what happened on Monday. I encouraged Jack to stay involved. Even though he was on crutches and recovering from knee surgery, he made appearances at practices (for at least a few minutes) most every day. What I thought was the most critical part of his participation, though, was that his parents would be sure to get him to the games early enough that he could “crutch” out to the middle of the field for the coin toss with the Captains. Our players really reacted positively to that. Jack’s inspirational leadership helped us get to the state semi’s that year… and he played in only 1 quarter of the opening game.

By staying involved, he helped himself and the team. We certainly would’ve preferred to have him on the field for every game but… under the circumstances, it turned out very well for everyone involved.

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