Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for July, 2018

Nobody Leaves the Field!

Posted by admin July - 31 - 2018 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Practice has begun in Tidewater Virginia and, guess what? It’s muggy!!! and raining… a LOT!!! The HC that I’m consulting for asked if we should go outside or go to the gym? I told him that “football practice doesn’t get rained out! It gets rained on!! I think that if you might have to play in rainy, muddy conditions that you should practice in it — as long as there’s NO thunder/lightning in the area! We went on out yesterday and it turned out to be a good practice.

There are times in the season when you simply have to go inside. We have used the gym over the years to get a lot of reps during Team period. Make sure everyone is wearing tennis shoes and nobody goes to the floor, but… you can accomplish a lot.

The thing that disturbed me— that I want to share with you today— happened the other day. As practice ended, the HC yelled, “Everyone help clean up the field.” There were bags, dummies, pennies and line spacers that needed to be put away in the shed. As most of the players headed to different spots on the field to help clean up, I saw a couple of “escapee’s” taking off for the locker room. Fortunately, I had my whistle! I blew it to get their attention and then waved them back. As I was corraling them, a group of 5-6 started wandering off toward the locker room too. It was then that I called the whole team up!

I explained that NOBODY leaves the field until ALL of the equipment is in the shed! It’s another example of the 80/20 Principle (80% of the work will be done by 20% of the organization!) I explained that if everyone would join in, the stuff would be put away quicker. Then… everybody will get in sooner. However… NOBODY leaves this area (where the shed it!) until the shed is locked!

There is nothing that is more UN-teammanlike (is that a word?!!) than for a slacker to get to do something while a few players stay and do all of the work! You’re always going to have those who don’t want to do their “fair share.” It doesn’t mean they should be rewarded for being selfish.

Assign a coach to monitor things. He positions himself so that he can observe that nobody leaves the area until the HC gives the thumbs up! It’s just one more little thing to promote unity and good will among the players.

“I Resolve To …..”

Posted by admin July - 24 - 2018 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

As the football season kicks off for most teams in the next few weeks, it made me remember how I used to feel as preseason practice approached. For a long time, its approach brought a mix of excitement and fear. In later years, it amounted to excitement and worry. But, as my faith in Jesus increased I was able to approach a new season with joy and anticipation! That’s what faith does! For those of you still in the “worry” stage, let me share a couple of thoughts that I read in my Pastor Bob Gass daily devotional, The Word For You Today.

Hopefully, you have set your goals for the upcoming season. Those should include team goal and personal/individual goals — for your players and you! Remember when you set a goal or, make a resolution… it will only happen when you’re resolute! This means having a “mind that’s made up.” Nothing is going to deter you.

Here are some things that you should consider resolving to do this season:

1- Make time for the important things in your life. Whether it’s God or family or work/teaching, resolve to set aside time each day to focus on the important things/people in your life. I’d even recommend that you have a “date night” with your spouse or girlfriend one night each week! Get enough rest. Find time to exercise. Make time to pray and read your Bible… even if it means getting up 20-30 minutes earlier. It’s worth it.

2- “Divide and conquer.” If you take on too many things at the same time, you are going to get overwhelmed. Then you’ll find yourself losing focus and giving up on certain goals/resolutions that you’ve deemed important. Prioritize. Eliminate. You build on success by mastering one thing at a time.

3- Record your successes and failures. It’s the only way to determine if you’re making progress. You have to even “look back” occasionally to see how far you’ve come. If your progress isn’t where it should be, you can see what you still need to work on. Once you reevaluate, reset your goals and… RE-start!!!

“Never give up… and never give in!!!” Winston Churchill

“All Aboard!”

Posted by admin July - 17 - 2018 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Official pre-season practice begins next week in Virginia. It seems to be earlier and earlier every year! I can remember when starting the 2nd week in August was considered “early.” Please be cautious in planning out your season’s practice schedule. Most of you will be going hard for 4 months once your practices start. Kids today, too many of them anyway, don’t seem to “stick to” a commitment like they used to. While I am a proponent of keeping your practice schedule a) organized and b) basically the same… I do think there’s a place for “breaks” in the action. I’ve mentioned on this blog before that, for example, asking players to come in on Saturday morning after playing the night before may be asking too much. They need time over the weekend to unwind, rest and heal up.

Your weekly practice schedule doesn’t need to deviate much. People don’t like change. But, at the same time, you don’t want your schedule to become “routine.” That leads to lack of focus. I’ve talked before about scheduling an “off day” on a predetermined Monday during the season. I also learned from my players that going out in helmets only on a Monday can be a “spirit-lifter.” Those types of changes RE-energize your players and that is important.

It’s also important to curtail live contact during practice. The concussion issue is important. Players need to be protected. Unnecessary contact during practice can be detrimental. I’ll always remember what my high school head coach said when asked why we had little or no live contact in practice once the season started. He stated, “If they’re gonna get hurt (and I hope that’s never the case!), I don’t want them to get hurt during practice.” The NFL has shown that you can do live tackling without having to hit another person!

If you haven’t utilized a tackling machine or the tackling rings… or simply tackling a “blocking” sled, you are missing out on opportunities to have a player tackle full speed while using good/safe technique without contacting another player. We became big advocates of Pete Carroll’s “Hawk Rugby Tackling” technique. Not only did it prove to be safer but, in particular, our open-field tackling improved tremendously! Why? The kids told me why: “Coach, I feel so much more confident coming up to make a tackle knowing that I don’t have to put my head in front of the ball carrier.” Wow! How true! The old “cross the bow” tackling technique is actually quite dangerous. The “Hawk Rugby” tackle teaches the players to put their head behind the tackler; wrap up his legs and roll!!! Check out the video’s that Coach Carroll has posted if you haven’t seen this technique explained.

“Rudy!”

Posted by admin July - 3 - 2018 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I ran into a former player over the weekend. We had a great time reminiscing about the “good old days!” He brought up something that I’d forgotten about till he mentioned it. I’m not sure if this idea is even in my book, 101 Little Things That Can Make a BIG Difference. It’s worth repeating even if it is!

Most of you reading this have probably watched the movie Rudy. The story of the walk-on to the Notre Dame football team who gets to go in for 1 play in the last game of his senior year… and proceeds to sack the QB on the game’s last play! The players carry him off the field on their shoulders. That picture inspired me to consider having our own “Rudy Moment” for our football team. What developed provided a lasting memory for one special person.

That next season at our last game, I selected one of our offensive linemen to move to running back for one play! He practiced it a couple of times each day. On Friday night, late in the 4th quarter, I sent him on the field at fullback to run his play. The team knew what was coming and the word had gotten out to our fans… so everyone got really excited as the offense broke the huddle. As it happened, there were a couple of years that we gave the ball to the “designated lineman/fullback” down on the goal line. He scored! Another time, I sent him in on the extra point. We went for 2 and he scored. That just added to that young man’s joy— knowing that an O lineman had a chance to score points!

The one that topped them all, though, was the year we had a real “Rudy Moment!” We had a Team Manager who had been with us for 4 years. He loved football but was too small to play. So, he chose to stay involved by being a manager. He was very smart and very responsible. He literally became my “right hand man.” I realized as we entered our last week that it would be pretty cool if we could “suit him up” and let him play one play. I put him at Defensive End (just like Rudy) and turned him loose! To top it off, when the team found out on Monday that our “Rudy” would be dressing out on Friday night, they went nuts!

Game night approached and I helped “Rudy” find some pads that fit. When the team burst onto the field before the game, “Rudy” was right up front. As the clock ticked down to end the game, I could sense the tension and excitement building. We went on defense with about a minute left and I sent “Rudy” onto the field with the 2nd defense. The stadium erupted! I was just praying that he wouldn’t get hurt.

They snapped the ball; “Rudy” rushed across the line. They faked a run and the QB bootlegged away… right into the waiting arms of our “Rudy.” He got the sack— just like in the movie! I couldn’t believe it! WOW!!! The team mobbed him. As the game ended, they hoisted our “Rudy” up on their shoulders and carried him to the sideline so we could line up to go shake hands.

THAT’S the story that this former player shared. It was one of the highlights of his high school career! Those are the kind of lasting memories I’d hoped to leave for my players. We won a lot of games and had some great times. But, what this former player wanted to talk about was our “Rudy Moment.”

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