Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for April, 2019

5 Qualities of a Successful Head Coach!

Posted by admin April - 8 - 2019 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

I’ll be watching my “home-state team” tonight when UVa plays for the NCAA basketball championship. I’m not a big fan of college basketball (pass it around the perimeter for 20 seconds, then someone attempts– and usually misses a 3) and then they go down to the other end! Yawn!!! But, I’ll be cheering on UVa for one reason: Coach Tony Bennett. He is the epitome of class. And…. a darn good coach!

There was a quote in the paper the other day in an article by writer David Teel from Coach Bennett’s sister, Kathi Bennett, who is also a college basketball coach. What Teel reported from her is the focus of this post.

Kathi said, “He’s (Tony) is good on all fronts. Relationships, X’s and O’s, motivation, perspective. He’s steadfast.”

Wow! I started thinking about those 5 qualities and how they fit Tony Bennett and my conclusion was: she’s right! Then I started thinking about some other head coaches I know (either personally or professionally) to see if they “check the boxes” on those 5 qualities. Some graded pretty high; others, not so much!!! It amazed me when I compared their ratings on the 5 qualities to their winning percentage. A very strong correlation!

Let’s look at each of them briefly:

1- Relationships: We are social animals. Our ability to relate and get along with others goes a long way in how effective we are as a leader/head coach. We all need a degree of self-awareness to tell us if we are relating effectively with those we work and live with.

2- X’s and O’s: You’ve heard the saying that “it’s not the X’s and O’s but the Bobby and Joe’s” that determine success. That is true to an extent. We have to have some talent to be successful. But, what about those teams that DO have talent and still don’t win consistently? We’ve played people over the years that I knew going in that our team was simply better-prepared; i.e., better-coached, than our opponent. You’d better know your craft and be able to teach it well.

3- Motivation: It’s the underlying theme of this site. Motivation encompasses most everything that involves the critical mental part of the game of coaching. How do you go about motivating a bunch of 16 and 17 year olds to play with intensity and enthusiasm… throughout a game; throughout a season; throughout a year? Motivation, to me, means encouraging others to achieve more than they think they’re capable of.

4- Perspective: How do you see the world? How do you see a challenge? How do you see yourself? It’s sorta like your “world-view.” When you lose a BIG game (like Tony Bennett did in the 1st round of the play-off’s last year), how do you handle it? When you win that championship, what does it do to your view of things? Your perspective… and being able to keep a positive, healthy perspective is crucial to your mental well-being!

5- Finally, Steadfast: Perhaps my favorite Bible verse is Philippians 3:14. It says to “press on towards the goal…” Press on! That means that there’s going to be pressure. Can you remain steadfast in striving to achieve your goal when things don’t go well? Can you press on when confronted with obstacles that seem insurmountable? On the other hand, will you remain steadfast when things are going well? Or… is that when you get lazy and relax?

If you’re reading this, I encourage you to take a piece of paper and a pen and write down these 5 qualities… then grade yourself (letter grades are fine or 1-5) on where you think you are. Then…. this is important!… ask someone who you respect and will be honest with you (and who knows something about coaching!) and ask them to grade you! Then compare the two. It will be an excellent exercise in growing and developing as a coach and as a person.

“It’s Not WHAT You Do; But, HOW You Do It!”

Posted by admin April - 2 - 2019 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Agree? The title is something that I heard someone state recently about good leadership. The guy used this statement to make a point… a point that I did not (totally) agree with.

I do agree that too many leaders/coaches/parents forget how important delivery is! I recall the first time I heard a recording of Adolph Hitler giving a speech to the Nazi party faithful. I was walking down the Social Studies hall at our school. One of the US History teachers was showing a film. The part I heard was Hitler delivering his speech. I was so intrigued that I stopped and stood next to the class doorway and listened. Hitler’s passion and enthusiasm were so contagious that I found myself stepping into the entrance-way of the class to actually see him! It is important to know that I do not speak one word of German! I had NO idea what the man was saying. It didn’t matter. His tone of voice; his gestures; his volume were all so appealing that it didn’t matter that I didn’t understand what he was saying. It was HOW he said it… or rather (back to our title!) HOW he did it that had me… and the thousands of Germans in the crowd listening to Hitler in person… so enthralled!!! I walked away shaking my head— knowing how easily we can be “pulled in” by a charismatic leader.

As a leader, you are a role model. Your values are more often caught rather than taught. Your players are constantly watching you… studying you. It’s your level of enthusiasm; it’s the passion for coaching that inspires those under you. I’ve often said that “your attitude is contagious. Is yours worth catching??!!!!”

So… Yes! Never forget that HOW you do something is far more important than you may ever realize. It has a tremendous impact on those who work for you.

But… here’s where I disagree with the speaker’s statement that “WHAT we do isn’t as important.” YES, it IS!!!

You can be the most enthusiastic, excited, passionate coach in your district. But, if you and your staff don’t know WHAT they are doing, you’re kids aren’t going to win many games! They may be an emotional, fired-up team but… if they can’t execute, they’re doomed to failure! Your staff needs to know the fundamentals of football. Your staff needs to have effective drills and… be able to teach them. They must know when a player makes a mistake and effectively correct it. All of these “what’s” are just as important as the “how’s.”

Now… if you know what you’re doing; but, your approach stinks… you’re probably in for a long season too! It is having the proper mixture of the two that makes for effective leadership. That’s why the amount of each ingredient is critical to producing a delicious chocolate chip cookie. (MY favorite!) Mess up the recipe and the end result will not be pleasant! Mess up the “what’s” and the “how’s” and your chance for success significantly decreases.

HOW you do something is just as important as WHAT you do!!!