Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for June, 2019

“PROPER Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!”

Posted by admin June - 25 - 2019 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Coaches: This will be short and sweet. If you do not have (at least) an outline of every pre-season practice already mapped out, you are risking failure for this upcoming season!

The biggest downfall of most coaches is: lack of organization. The second is: lack of discipline! The 2 go hand-in-hand. You need to set certain expectations for your staff, your players and yourself! However, those expectations/standards mean nothing if you lack the discipline (and fortitude) to carry them out.

One discipline that all leaders need is: to be organized! Plan out in advance your schedule for the fall. As I opened with, you should already have a plan for what you are going to do every day/practice starting in August. If not, hopefully this post will motivate you to get it done this week!

Use the age-old strategy of “working from the end back to the front” if you don’t know where to start! List the date of your opening game. Then list the things that you want installed by that opening game. Then… start working backwards— to your opening practice. You can always modify the schedule if something comes up. You need a plan! And you need it NOW!

Being An Effective Communicator, Part II

Posted by admin June - 20 - 2019 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

Last week, I wrote about the importance of being an effective communicator… IF you want to improve your leadership skills. The focus was primarily on public speaking/communication skills.

Today, I want to stress the importance of simply communicating!

People who work with and for you like to be kept in the loop. Not many people I know prefer being left in the dark. Our 24 hour a day newscasts and instant access to social media has fed that beast! People want (and need) to be informed. Sooooo…. be an effective communicator with your focus on communicating information to your team/organization.

One of the smartest things I did in my last head coaching position was to keep the parents informed as to what was going on with the team. I’m not sure where I came up with the idea (I’ll give credit to God’s Holy Spirit!) but every Sunday evening when I had wrapped up the previous game’s evaluations and done our preliminary prep for the next game, I would sit down at my computer and compose a Weekly Newsletter to the players AND their parents! I also included our AD, Principal and anyone else involved in our program who I felt needed to be “kept in the loop.”

I would talk about the previous game. I kept it as positive as possible. I didn’t hand out any individual accolades (unless someone had a huge game that anyone would’ve recognized!) but talked in general terms about the good things the staff saw and then some things we needed to work on.

Included would be a calendar and I would point out any important activities coming up that everybody should be aware of. Then, I would close with the Word of the Week (****Check out a previous post) and talk about its significance.

The purpose of the newsletter was two-fold. First, to accomplish the goal of being an effective communicator; thereby keeping everyone informed. Secondly, I used it as a motivational tool. By keeping the criticism to a bare minimum and accentuating the positive, the newsletter was a tool to encourage and challenge everyone to “press on.”

Qualities of an Effective Leader

Posted by admin June - 12 - 2019 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership recently. Several coaches have posed questions, and opinions, about what they think an effective leader is like. Some of them I agree with, others…. not so much! Sooooooo… I decided to formulate my own ideas about what qualities an effective leader should possess. I’ll cover them one at a time over the next few weeks.

First… a note: If you haven’t noticed, I have not used the term “great” leader. I prefer to use the term effective. That, to me, expresses more about what a leader should know and do. He knows his job and he does it well. He/she is effective in accomplishing the goal of the particular group/organization/team that the leader leads.

1st Quality: An effective leader is an effective communicator. He/she knows how to get his point across. He accomplishes this using good grammar and enunciation. He knows how to effectively use non-verbal cues (we call it body language) to convey the message he’s trying to share. Such things as eye contact, hand gestures, posture, tone of voice and using voice volume are all important. If you don’t know how to incorporate these things when talking with your team, you need to learn. They are important.

I will never forget asking a former coach (who was pretty successful) to come in and speak to our team before a big game. I knew him to be a pretty passionate fellow. Welllllll… 20 minutes later when everybody in the room (players and coaches) was asleep, I found a moment to start clapping for him— though I don’t think he was finished!– so that everyone else would join in and we could get him out of the room. It was B-A-D… and sad! Kids were laughing about it for days.

Which leads me to the other key point in communicating: Be prepared. Know how much time you’ve got and plan on shaving off 10-12 minutes from that time! I’ve learned over the years that you can say all you need to say in about 10 minutes. Did you know that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address lasted about 3 minutes??!!! Pretty impressive message for such a short speech. So, know what you’re going to say and practice with a timer.

Then, finally…. know how to FINISH!! I have seen soooooo many public speakers who had no closing! They would reach their last point and then… ramble on… and on… and on! They didn’t plan to or know how to close! I like it when speakers say something to the effect, “and my last point is…” or, “to summarize….” It sparks some energy in the audience because they know it’s coming to a close. And, it gets their attention.

So, in closing!!!— an effective leader is an effective communicator! This skill can be learned but it takes practice. Search out videos or books on the subject. You will be amazed at how much more your team/organization will respond to you when you can communicate your message succinctly, passionately and clearly.

Attitude is EVERYTHING!

Posted by admin June - 5 - 2019 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

A young coach posed a question to me the other day which makes for a good topic to write about.

He shared how his team had gone from the “out house to the pent house” in one season! The euphoria of that special season has still not worn off. Unfortunately, it’s now holding the players’ mind captive! The staff is having a very difficult time motivating them to work hard this spring. He fears that their “we’ve been to the mountaintop” attitude does not bode well for the upcoming season! He wanted to know how I handled this after one of our championship seasons. I shared a couple of things. Here they are:

1- I don’t think you want to totally destroy their swagger. Confidence can be a fleeting thing. It doesn’t take much adversity for a lot of adolescents to “cave in” their positive attitude. That’s why I like a great statement I first heard from Pastor Mark Batterson. He says: “Stay humble. Stay hungry.”

That says a LOT! It gives a coach a platform to talk about “balance.” Be proud of what you accomplished but don’t turn into a bragger. (Stay humble… and thankful for what you accomplished.) I think it’s the cockiness that destroys work ethic. It becomes a “look what we DID” instead of a “look what we still have to DO!” Thus, the need to (constantly) remind your players: STAY HUNGRY! Complacency destroys motivation.

That leads to point number 2: I think you need to be “preaching” attitude every time you get with your players! They are doing the hard physical work in the weight room. But, they need “mental” training just as much. Presenting the same message in different ways is an art that only a coach who develops his communication skills can share. Having a file full of “stories” is how one is able to do this. If you tell the same story over and over, it gets stale and its impact lessens with each repetition.

I would suggest looking at athletes, singers, movie stars— famous people, who, when you share their story, the kids will recognize the name. Examples of how someone got a big head and stopped working hard— and suffered the consequences— is a terrific wake-up call. Lines from movies (especially sports movies) can have tremendous impact also. I love the scene from Facing The Giants where the coach is challenging the player to keep bear-crawling down the field!!! It’s worth showing every season.

3- Finally, check your enthusiasm level. Are you as energetic? Are you challenging the players? OR… are you “sitting on your laurels” too? Check your own attitude before you start complaining about the players.