Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for May, 2019

Wooden’s Wisdom

Posted by admin May - 21 - 2019 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I’ve encouraged those of you who read this regularly to read books about (and by!) successful people. I read a lot of biographies when I was young. They taught me to dream big! Since my professional career began, I’ve focused more on books by successful coaches. I also like to read books on leadership. You should too!

One of my all-time favorite coaches is the former UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden. I know he coached in a different culture than we have today but… his philosophy is timeless. I think if more coaches/leaders were to adopt Coach Wooden’s principles of success, our society would be a better place to live.

I was thinking about my post from last week— focusing on perseverance and self-discipline— when something about Coach Wooden popped into my head. I want to share it here as a great example of why “stickin’ to your knittin’” will bring forth success!

The first time that Coach met with his UCLA players… the first thing he would do was: demonstrate how to put on their socks correctly!!! What??? Yep! He would show them how to put on their practice/game socks correctly so they wouldn’t cause blisters!!! Can you believe it?! Here are 12-13 of the best college basketball players in the country. They’ve played B-ball since they could probably just start to walk! And Coach is showing them how to put on their socks so they won’t get blisters!!!! THAT is crazy!

Why would he do this? More importantly… why would he do it at the beginning of every season? Because Coach Wooden knew that taking care of the little things is a key to success! He was disciplined enough to never over-look this “little thing.” He did it cuz he cared about his players but… I also think he did it to show them that taking care of something that appears rather insignificant can help them succeed in big ways!

“Learned” Laziness

Posted by admin May - 17 - 2019 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

I got into a discussion with a coach the other day. I asked him how his team’s off-season workouts were going… since school is coming to a close and teams will soon be transitioning to PRE-season preparations.

He told me that he’s been pleased with how things have gone since they started working out in January. The kids had worked hard but…. he thought that they had gotten lazy here at the end of the school year. He kept on talking but that statement resonated with me. It continued to percolate in my head as the day went on. I called him later and shared this:

I remember studying in Psych 101 that there is such a thing as learned laziness! It comes about because people just naturally gravitate toward the “least common denominator”…. that is, getting away with doing as little as possible!… if you don’t motivate them to get up and move. If people learn that they can get away with sitting around or giving less than their best effort (and don’t get criticized), then they will continue in that fashion. I believe that this is what happened to this coach’s program.

He explained how they started out like a ball of fire! Everyone was flying around and working hard. Now, 4 months later, the fire seems to have burnt out. I asked him about HIS and his staff’s behavior. Had that changed? He had to admit that it had. The coaches weren’t challenging the players to move quickly between stations nor to get all of their reps in during the prescribed lifting time. I told him that, “you are dealing with something as old as time!”

It’s why Philippians 3:14 is one of my favorite Bible verses. You don’t have to believe in God to see that Biblical principles apply to life anyway! This verse says to: “PRESS on toward the goal.” Key word being “press!”

A goal worth achieving is going to require effort. More importantly, continued effort! Thus the key. Are we willing to “press on” 3 months or 9 months…. or 3 years… or 10 years to accomplish a goal? Some may call it stubborn. I call it “competitive perseverance!” This coach had fallen into the trap of slacking off; back-sliding; failing to maintain proper stress levels on his subordinates. (The key there is “proper.”) Once we stop pushing, our players will learn quickly that hustling or being enthusiastic or… whatever it is that you want them to do… is not necessary anymore.

I shared this as gently as I could with this coach cuz I didn’t want to come across as critical. I just wanted to help him and his program. He received it well.

Remember that the same thing holds true for our own life. We have to continue to demand the same level of focus, intensity or enthusiasm in our own lives too. And… it helps to have an “accountability partner” who will call us out if he sees that we are slacking off!

PRESS ON, guys!!!

“Small World Syndrome!”

Posted by admin May - 11 - 2019 - Saturday ADD COMMENTS

I haven’t posted in a while cuz my wife and I have been on a river cruise down the Rhine river in Germany. A fabulous 10 days— starting with a 3 day visit to Amsterdam then 7 days on the Scenic Opal ship. We flew home from Zurich the other day. I’m trying to re-set my “internal clock” and start sleeping at night again!

But this story is about who we met on the cruise. We made new friends who are from Canada, Australia, Great Britain and USA! As I introduced myself, people wanted to know where I was from and what did I do. “Virginia and retired HS football coach” was my answer. Apparently I said it loud enough that others overheard me speaking!

The second day of the cruise a guy came up and said, “I heard you saying that you coached high school football in Virginia. My son coaches in Virginia too.” and… he (my cruise mate) is a retired HS coach from Indiana! Once we started sharing more, I found out that not only did I know where his son coached but that I actually have met his son at a clinic! And…. they run the Wing T!!! It was hilarious when I texted my friend to tell him that his dad and I just met in Germany!!! “Small world!”

My new (retired) coaching friend from Indiana was traveling with his wife and another couple. The other guy was a former HS football coach too! Obviously, we had several impromptu “coaching clinics” while cruising down the Rhine! It was great to share stories and information.

What I realized was that: American football is a great game! and… it’s played all over the country at the same level of intensity and enthusiasm as its played here in Virginia. To run into a coaching colleague who has a son that I already knew just added to the joy of a great vacation.