Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for March, 2019

Transfers and Recruiting

Posted by admin March - 18 - 2019 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

This whole subject of students transferring schools to play for a better shot at a scholarship realllllllllly bothers me. I blame it on free agency. It started at the professional level when players were allowed to chase the money. Then, it began to effect the college game. Don’t like your situation? Transfer. Now, it seems, it plagues high school ball too. At least it does in our area. I know it does in other states too.

There is a friend of mine who coached (successfully) in Florida for a number of years who just recently opted out and moved to take over a program in Alabama! Why? Cuz Florida allows “open transfers.” Players can transfer from one school to another in the state and be immediately eligible! So, a disgruntled player can transfer on Monday from School A to School B and on Friday night he can suit up and play for School B… against School A!!! Wow!

If it’s an issue, then how do you deal with it? First off, if it’s still a rule in your state that recruiting is illegal then… you don’t do it! And you tell everyone on your staff that they don’t do it! As is often the case, it’s the adults who create the problems. My rule of thumb has always been: if I’m approached by a player about transferring to my school, I tell him 2 things: 1- your family must move into our zone and 2- have your parents call me to set up a meeting. Once they approach me, I will discuss what our school has to offer. Until then, the player is off limits.

How do you keep players from wanting to leave your program? That is more difficult to cope with. As I mentioned, the coach I know from Florida was very successful— a couple of state championships. And still, players wanted to leave. Why? They expected more playing time. They expected more scholarship offers. They wanted to play for a winning program. They wanted to play for a coach who they felt would treat them better. I don’t think you can deal with any of these things and still run a solid program. Unless you allow the players and their parents to run your program… and even then, someone is going to think they’re being treated unfairly… you’re never going to make everyone happy.

I think it’s important to treat players and their parents with respect. But, as my high school coach reminded me several times over the years: “Lew, you are the coach. They are the parent. Who’s in charge?!” The principal and AD hired you to lead the program. It’s your job to help your players both on and off the field. Accountability; respect for authority; and working together for a common goal are 3 objectives of any high school football program. Your job as HC is to see that these objectives are met.

It is often the case that if you take care of these little things, the wins will follow. Chase the wins and you’ve got your priorities out of order. When asked what his main purpose was as a football coach, the coach stated: “To win football games!” The other man responded, “Friend, winning football games is too small a thing to live for!” Amen!

“Mattering Matters!”

Posted by admin March - 5 - 2019 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Unfortunately, I forgot where on the internet that I read this last week but it has reallllllllllllly stuck in my head! The person writing it was talking about Leadership and the components of effective leadership.

I’ve read a lot of books and listened to a lot of speakers discussing leadership. What this man wrote was, I thought, profound! The gist of his message was: Mattering matters!

There are people in our programs that we consider essential to making our organization successful. And they are essential! However, there are people in our programs who, at best, we’d call marginal. If you’re talking about a high school football team, it’s those guys who are on the team but aren’t likely to play much. You keep them around cuz they’re good kids and, maybe, you hate to cut players who have a good attitude and work hard. It’s these marginal players that we have a responsibility to make feel like they have a contribution to make. You never know! I recall a Freshman running back we had back in the 90’s whom our JV coach deemed too small and he wanted to cut him. The guy stuck around and — long story short — by his senior year, he had a dozen D1 offers!

From a business standpoint, one could ask the owner: “Do you know the name of your custodian?” Or, “do you speak to the Security Guard when you check in each morning?” These people need to feel like they matter. Because… here’s the KEY: when people feel like they matter to the boss/head coach, their performance improves! When someone is made to feel like they are essential to the success of a team, they are going to be motivated to perform at a level that produces success.

Take the time to get to know that back-up offensive lineman. Spend some time with the kid who you consider to be “last on the depth chart.” It’s all about making your weakest link as strong as you can.

This is why I’ve always advocated meeting individually with all Varsity veterans during the off-season. Give them a goal-planning sheet to fill out and bring back to you. Use what they wrote to promote discussion. And… don’t make all of the questions about football. Ask them about their life goals. Ask them where they see themselves 10 years from now. Ask about their family. All of this is showing your players that they matter to you. You’re very likely to see an increase in performance/motivation because you took to heart that mattering matters!