Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for January, 2019

“Student of the Game!”

Posted by admin January - 29 - 2019 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I had the good fortune to have been invited to speak this past weekend at the National Wing T Coaches Clinic in Pittsburgh. There were over 300 coaches in attendance from all over the country. They were all there to do one thing: learn more about this wonderful offense that we know and love. Interestingly, we wanted to know more! That is why we were there.

It is a pleasure to announce that I am returning to coaching full-time! Welllllllllll… flex time! I still need to be available to help out my wife with babysitting our granddaughter. And I promised her that we will still be traveling in the Fall (during the season!). When the head coach asked me to be his OC, I explained that there is a commitment to helping my wife. He was amenable to my situation.

There were a number of excellent speakers at the clinic. It was fun to sit in on their talks and glean information from them. Knowing that I would be gaining knowledge was exciting for me. I had a reason to take notes and ask questions… cuz I am in the midst of putting together the Wing T offense we’re going to run this year. It reminded me how much I enjoy learning and growing. I was applying what I have encouraged coaches to be (and do!) for a number of years: BE A “STUDENT OF THE GAME!”

What’s the old saying? “If you’re not growing, you’re rotting?!” Whatever your job; whatever your situation, there is still more to learn. When you think you’ve learned it all, there’s still more knowledge out there to gain. One of my Education professors challenged us to be “life-long learners.” As teachers, we were encouraged to continue to study our craft. The same thing goes for coaching.

Go to clinics. Read books. Watch video’s. Visit and talk to other coaches. Use the off-season in the same manner that you are challenging your players to do: Get Better!!!

“Put In the Work”

Posted by admin January - 22 - 2019 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I’m reading Tim Tebow’s new book, This Is The Day. Some great life-lessons for anyone who desires to grow in Christ or simply improve as an individual.

The chapter I’m in right now is titled, “Put In the Work.” He’s talking about competitiveness and, one of my favorite concepts!, persistence. I think we learn competitiveness early in life. It’s instilled in us if we live in a competitive environment as we grow up. Persistence, too, has to be nurtured. We, as coaches, have to teach it, model it (never give up! never give in!) and encourage it. One thing Tim writes about his time at the U. of Florida really struck home. Remember… his coach was Urban Meyer.

Tim writes, “When I was at the University of Florida, our whole college program was centered on bringing out our mental toughness. Obviously, we focused on speed and strength, but it was secondary to the goal of developing grit.”

Wow!!! Are you spending as much time on the mental training as you are the physical? Particularly here in the off-season portion of the year, a coach needs to start training his players to be mentally tough. There are activities and exercises that you can use. I’d be glad to share a few with you if you’ll email me. I’m not talking about a meat grinder attitude. I’m definitely not encouraging you to replicate the Junction Boys that Bear Bryant put his Texas A & M team through! No. It’s a matter of simply helping kids to see/learn that they can do more than they think they can. Our job is to get them out of their comfort zone. As Tim says later, “It means getting inconvenienced. But if you don’t grow, you won’t change. And if you don’t change, you stay stuck.”

Like the commercial says, “Don’t stay stuck! Get GEICO.” or whatever product they’re trying to sell! *See…. that’s bad psychology in that ad. When you can remember the jingle but can’t remember the product— what good have you done?!! On the other hand, when the message is so powerful and it’s easily attached to the product, it will make your company a LOT of money! Don’t believe me? Then why do companies spend millions of dollars for 30 seconds of ad time during the Super Bowl?

We as coaches need to sell our product. In this case, it’s mental toughness and competitive spirit.

I’ll close with one more quote from the book. Tim says, “Striving for something and having a life of significance doesn’t always feel good. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s outright painful. You have to do the hard things to get to where you need to go.”

Amen? Amen!

Have A VISION

Posted by admin January - 18 - 2019 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

I had the good fortune to attend a local Sports Club meeting the other day where LaTasha Colander-Clark was the keynote speaker. She was a 2000 Olympian from our area. She won a gold medal in the 4 X 200 Relay and still holds the world record in the event. Verrrrrry impressive! and… a very impressive young woman.

It was admirable that she did not hide the fact that she is a born-again Christian from the audience when she first stood to talk. Making a “faith statement” lent credence to the powerful talk she subsequently presented over the next 15 minutes. This is a summary of the notes I took while she spoke. The theme is something that all of us should adopt. Her title was: “Have a Vision.”

A line from the movie Sister Act 2 has always remained a mantra for me. The character that Whoopie Goldberg played stated in front of her students one day that… “If you want to be somebody. If you want to go somewhere. You better wake up and pay attention!” Truth!!!

Ms. Colander-Clark was basically stating the same thing. If we want to be successful, we need to have a picture in our mind of where we want to go and what we want to do. Without that picture; i.e., vision, we are destined to fail. Why?

We are likely to fail because somewhere along the road to success there are going to be some speed bumps. There might even be a wreck. Do those obstacles slow us down? OR… do they cause us to give up; tuck our tail between our legs and… slink off to the Land of Quitters. That’s the place where people make all kinds of excuses for WHY they failed. The main reason they failed is because they lacked a vision. With that vision, you have a driving force that keeps you going. Without a vision, you’ll never “see” yourself succeeding. When the times get tough, the weak get going… right out the door!

One of my “life verses” from the Bible is Phil. 3:14. It paraphrases, “PRESS ON toward the goal!” Press… is short for pressure! Pressure will come to bear but I choose to remain strong and hopeful. I know that “God’s got this” and He will take care of me. For a Christian, surrender is just another word for VICTORY. We surrender means trusting the things/people/situations in our life to God. “I can’t do this on my own, Lord. I give (surrender) it to YOU!”

It took 10 years before my “vision” of what I wanted our football program to look like finally came to fruition. I had to “press on” through many trials and sorrows. But, I knew that God had given me a vision and He did NOT want me to give up.

Create a Vision Statement and live it out! Through thick and thin, God is with us!

Back In The “Grind!”

Posted by admin January - 9 - 2019 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

I recently accepted an offer to become the Offensive Coordinator at a local high school! Yes… I have “UN-retired” for the 3rd time! There have been a lot (overwhelmingly) of positive posts from friends on my Facebook page— congratulating me on my return to coaching. However, there are a few who are questioning why would I want to get back in the grind! I have an answer. Let me let Dabo Swinney speak for me!

Dabo was asked why he’s already prepared to start the grind all over again so soon. His response was priceless! Dabo stated, “I’m looking forward to Friday. That’s the fun part about what I do. We get to start over every year and plug guys in and let them go play. I’m excited about it. It’s always a fun meeting for me to kind of reset the room, if you will, and kind of paint a picture of what this new journey is going to look like and what we’ve got to do. Every year is a new challenge and you don’t carry anything over.”

Does that sound like a grind??!! Dabo’s attitude is not only positive but infectious. No wonder he’s getting the country’s best recruits.

That is what I missed. I love the preparation phase of a new season. Evaluating, studying, planning and teaching the staff and players is FUN! It’s fun because I know what my life’s purpose is and how God wants me to fulfill that purpose. If you don’t know what your life purpose is, you need to discover it. I discovered mine when my sweet wife spoke a “Word” over me about 35 years ago. Other friends, who I love and respect, confirmed what God had shared with her… that He wanted her to share with me. It was one simple statement. “This (coaching) is your ministry.”

My priority as a high school football coach was (and now is) to: Share the love and hope of Jesus Christ with my players and fellow coaches. Simply put: “Love Jesus; love people.” When we seek God as the priority in our life, He will take care of the rest. (Check out Matthew 6:33 in the Bible!)

When you know your purpose in life and properly prepare yourself (and your coaches and players), it’s amazing what you can accomplish. We’re going to win a lot of football games in the next few years! Of that, I have no doubt. Why am I so confident? Because the young man who is our Head Coach has been “tutored” by me since he was a Freshman in high school! He played for me and coached with me. He wants to do things the right way. I am honored to join his staff.

Small Beginnings

Posted by admin January - 2 - 2019 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

I’ve been having conversations with a young first-year head coach over the holidays. He related how he was disappointed in their first-season’s record. They went 7-3! Made the play-offs. Won their first play-off game and lost in the 2nd round to an undefeated team. I asked him, “which part of all that success are you most disappointed in??!!!”

This post, then, is not for any coaches in this young coach’s situation. This post is for those of you who weren’t very successful in your first (or second) season of being a HC. My encouragement to you is a verse from the Bible! It says, “Do not despise these small beginnings… for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”

You need to remember what I read from Bob Gass recently. He wrote that “great endings usually start with humble beginnings.” Building a successful program is just that… a building process. Some call it a grind. I don’t like that cuz it brings up negative connotations in my head. Yes, it was frustrating to build a successful high school football program. The first few years were not easy. But, I also found it exhilarating when I saw that we were taking steps in the right direction.

I adopted the philosophy (and, thus, the title of my book) that Little Things CAN Make a BIG Difference! One of my closest friends in coaching always reminded me to “pay attention to details!” That was easy for me because I’m a bit OCD anyway! Staying focused is never a problem for me. You need to adopt the same point of view.

And don’t quit just because things don’t look like they’re ever going to get better! In my first 5 seasons as a HC, we were 22-25-3. The last 25 seasons we were 177-56… with 8 conference, 1 regional and 1 state championship. Those first 5 were tough. But, it was those small beginnings that were the bedrock of persistence and determination which carried us to so much success over the next 25 years.

Do not despise small beginnings!

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