Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for October, 2017

Hope!

Posted by admin October - 31 - 2017 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I wrote last week about my friend who died. It was a rough week. We held a “Celebration of Life” service for my friend yesterday. He had asked me a month ago if I would conduct the service. How could I say no? It was amusing to see the look on some people’s faces when they saw me get up on stage to do a “funeral” service. “I thought you were a football coach??!” they said. “I was… but I am also an ordained pastor!” I replied. I could see the cognitive dissonance all over their faces!

How about you? What are you “known for” or “known as” in your community? We get pidgeon-holed at times. Be sure, as the Bible says, to let your light shine.

I want to talk about HOPE today. When people gather at a funeral, their immortality comes right to the forefront. We don’t like to think about death and eternity. Funerals cause us to actually face it. It’s uncomfortable. Why? Cuz we’re not PROPERLY prepared to face it!

You know if you’re read a lot of my posts that “The 5 P’s of Success” concept is pretty much the foundation of anything I talk about when it comes to coaching, parenting, teaching and/or life in general. The same thing holds true with death. But I have some good news for you today. You CAN know in advance where you’re going when you die! There is hope!!!

Most of us live UNprepared to die… even though it’s inevitable. I am prepared to die! I’m not ready to die but I am prepared. What prepared me? A relationship with Jesus Christ. John 3:16 is not only one of the most famous verses in the Bible, it is also one of the most important! To paraphrase it, it tells us: “God loves each of us so much! that He let his Son die on a bloody Cross. If you believe in Him, you can have eternal life in heaven.

Jesus offers to everyone the gift of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life with Him! This gift is called grace and, yes, it is AMAZING! (Just like the song says!) If you’ve never accepted this offer of salvation and eternal life with Jesus… then I want you to know that God invites you to come! As a follower of Jesus, I invite you to come.

Seeing what happened to my friend last week (he was only 58), I think it’s important that we all understand that our lives on this earth can end without warning! I shared with the people in attendance at the celebration service yesterday the following words: If my friend Earle (and because I’m writing this… so I’ll say me too!) could share one thing with you, it would be THIS:
Make peace with the God who created you! Don’t reject Jesus’ love. There is no one who will ever love you more than Jesus! His love is sufficient to meet ALL of your needs!

Write me if you’d like to know more about this. In Jesus’ love, Lew

A “Real” Loss

Posted by admin October - 25 - 2017 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

It’s amazing how life’s experiences can put things in perspective for you! We, as coaches, get sooooo wrapped up in winning football games that we forget that there are things (and people!) in our lives that are a LOT more important than getting a “W” on Friday night. It was brought home to me this week.

On Sunday, one of my closest and dearest friends died. He’d been battling cancer for 6 months or so and had deteriorated quickly over the last 2 weeks. I went by to see him several times a week right up until the end. It was sad to see such a vigorous, kind-hearted man dwindling away to just a shell. But, his suffering ended on Sunday morning. He went home to be with Jesus! As much as I miss him, I know that he is now free of pain and is full of joy being in the presence of his Lord and Savior. My job now is to comfort his family.

This has taught me to cherish those people that God has placed in your life. Preparing to win football games is important… don’t get me wrong! However, don’t neglect the other parts of your life only to “die on the altar of success” in coaching! You will regret it.

I heard a song the other day which summed up my philosophy on life. It’s by the female Christian singing group Point of Grace. The chorus is a call to how all of us should live our lives. It’s entitled Turn Up the Music. It goes like this:

“Turn up the music! Turn it up loud. Take a few chances. Let it all out. You won’t regret it… lookin’ back from where you’ve been. Cause it’s not who you knew and it’s not what you did… It’s HOW YOU LIVE.”

Good advice for all of us.

Pay Attention to Details

Posted by admin October - 17 - 2017 - Tuesday 1 COMMENT

I was fortunate to have had a lot of excellent coaches work with me and for me during my tenure as a head coach. One in particular still influences my life today. “Coach Sam” was called to be a pastor so he left coaching to devote himself to Jesus and his ministry. I visit his church from time to time to soak up some of that wisdom that God’s Holy Spirit has given him. If you don’t have someone in your life like Coach Sam…. wellllllllllllllll, Pastor Sam, you need to get one. If you DO have a “pastor Sam” in your life, lean on him for godly wisdom.

One of the most important things I gleaned from Sam during the time he coached with me was our title for this week: “Pay Attention to DETAILS.” In other words, NEVER assume anything. Never assume that the directions that you give your assistant coaches will be carried out. Follow up! Never assume that your instructions to your players are understood. Quiz them. Ask questions. Get them to demonstrate what they have learned. Pay Attention to Details.

Interestingly, the Bible says, “The hand of the diligent makes rich.” This word diligent actually means: paying careful attention to details!!! Be diligent.

A good practice that I learned from reading a devotion from the Bob Gass ministry folks is, “When you give someone instructions, check to be sure they’ve made a note of them. If not, you should be concerned. The unlearned and uncommitted tend to trust their memory with everything, but the shortest pencil is still better than the longest memory. When someone doesn’t consider what you’re saying important enough to write down, they are sending you a signal. Even if their intentions are good, in their busyness or overconfidence your instructions can easily be forgotten. Those who are follow-through people always ask additional questions about the assignment and instructions you give them.”

So there you have a lesson learned from the perspective of the leader and… if you are an assistant right now, be that guy who always asks additional (good!) questions to get clarification and a time frame for the assignment you’ve been given.

Taking care of the little things is one of my Keys of Success. It may take a little more time and a lot more diligence to make sure you’ve paid attention to the details but… it’s worth it in the end!

Drive Killers

Posted by admin October - 10 - 2017 - Tuesday 1 COMMENT

Sorry for not posting last week. I retired a couple of years ago to give my wife the “first fruits” of my time. She wanted to travel; but, football consumed so much of my time that we were limited to going anywhere for just a 2-3 week window in the summer! So, we are beginning to check off destinations on our “travel bucket list.” Last football season, it was a Viking River Cruise in France and this fall it was a week in NH and Maine. We’ve always wanted to see the beautiful fall foliage of New England… and the seacoast villages of Maine’s coastline. We had a fabulous time.

I’ve been “consulting” for several teams all over the country this season— helping most with their Wing T offense but a couple of coaches are “picking my brain” about how to run an effective defense. I’m watching video for a number of schools and a couple of things repeatedly jump out at me that produce success on Friday night. I’m going to “go negative on you” and talk about those things that you cannot do (thus, “Drive Killers”) if you want to win on a consistent basis.

Drive Killer #1: Foolish Penalties. Let me point out that most penalties are foolish. IF you are having a coach watch for infractions during practice and… the players are penalized for them, then they have NO EXCUSE when it comes to being penalized during a game. Some of the biggest are a) illegal use of hands (it’s still Holding, to me!) and b) Illegal Procedure; i.e., either aligning incorrectly (too many men in the backfield; 2 backs in motion; or, jumping offside.) Sorry Coaches but… these are on YOU!!! These are things that must be addressed and RE-addressed in practice. You cannot let your players get away with this. 5 up/downs or 5 pushups makes the point. Let the punishment “match” the number of yards you’re penalized in a game. It’s too important to just “fuss” at the players and then rush on to the next play!

Then you get the more serious penalties like late hits and unsportsmanlike conduct. Again, “what you emphasize, you will achieve.” If you fail to emphasize how important it is to NOT commit an infraction by basically “ignoring” it in practice, don’t expect your players to suddenly not commit violations in games.

Drive Killer #2: Missed Assignments. I remain amazed at coaches who think it’s more important to “get through” their practice script of plays than it is to STOP! CORRECT!! and RUN IT AGAIN!!!— till it’s executed correctly. A missed assignment is going to put you “behind the sticks” and now you’re going to be paddling upstream on subsequent downs. Give quizzes. If a player can’t tell you his assignment on a particular play immediately, drop him for 5 push ups! If he knows it… carry a pocketful of Hershey’s Kisses… and toss him a piece of candy. Make sure whoever you put on the field KNOWS his assignments. The other side of this is HOW to execute his assignment. I see way too many teams who try to pass and the QB has barely set up before a DL is in his face! Teach your players HOW to pass block. If you don’t know how, talk to coaches of teams that successfully pass the ball and learn from them.

If you’ve read any of my other stuff on this blog site, you know that I emphasize doing a few things realllllllllllllly well. It’s not how much offense you have; it’s how well you execute what you do have! Pare things down and focus on the key things. Your players will execute them better.

Drive Killer #3: Poor Play-calling. If you drive the ball on the ground all the way down to your opponent’s 15 yard line and then decide to throw a pass???!!! What’s up with that? If you’ve been moving the ball effectively out of 1 formation, why change? It seems to me that Offensive play-callers get “bored.” You seem to be thinking: Wellllllllll… things have been going too well running this play or this formation; let’s try something else!” Really??? What’s the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” How true when calling a high school offense.

Then, the overall Drive Killer gets back to my basic premise that is the foundation of my coaching philosophy. I call it my “5 P’s of Success.” PROPER Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. The key is “Proper.” I observe too many coaches failing to prepare their players properly. It leads to a ton of mistakes that kill drives and ultimately lead to your side of the scoreboard showing LESS points than your opponent when the clock ticks down to 0!