Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for October, 2019

“Saturdays In The South”

Posted by admin October - 10 - 2019 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

If you are as big a college football fan as I am, you need to watch the ESPN series in conjunction with the SEC Network called Saturdays In The South– The History of the SEC Football. It is grrrrrrrreat!!!

They’ve broken the conference’s history down by decades and presented the key players, coaches and games that were highlights for that particular decade. My first recollection of college football goes back to the late 1950’s. I remember someone talking about the LSU Tigers defense being called the “Chinese Bandits.” I thought that sounded pretty cool. Then I read about their star RB, Billy Cannon, and I was hooked! I’ve followed college football ever since. Cannon and LSU were highlighted in part 3 of the show.

Last night I watched Part 6, the 90’s. A lot of it was about Steve Spurrier and his Florida Gator “Fun ‘n Gun” offense. They also talked about Tennessee’s unlikely run to a national championship— right after Peyton Manning had graduated! Tee Martin was the QB and Phillip Fulmer was the coach.

They had a segment where the UT team was in their pre-game meeting and Coach Fulmer was “charging the troops!” There was a huge poster mounted on the team room wall and Fulmer had obviously written on the chalk board something that he was using as his “prop” to inspire the team. There were 7 things that he had written on the chalk board and as he read each thing, he had the players repeat it back to him… out loud! I thought that was pretty cool! So, I hit rewind and listened/looked again.

What Fulmer was using was “Coach Bob Neyland’s 7 Maxims.” I’m not going to go into detail here about each one. I looked them up on the internet and found them on volnation.com.

The 7 maxims themselves are what I’d call “Keys To Victory.” What I think is so important here, though, is that the Coach was emphasizing those 7 maxims to his players before a game. They were obviously important enough to Fulmer that he used them as the basis for his pre-game talk. More importantly, he had the team repeat them OUT LOUD to him.

If something is important enough to post on the wall of your locker room, you must have the self-discipline to be sure that you bring the team’s attention to what those posters say— over and over again. If you don’t, they’ll be ignored! If they were important enough to hang on the wall, you need to reinforce what they say from time to time. In UT’s case, apparently he did it every week.

“Fun” vs. Being “Funny!”

Posted by admin October - 4 - 2019 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

I asked the team at the end of practice the other day if they were having fun? It just seemed to me that the whole season has seemed like a big drudgery to them so far. There is no life; no enthusiasm; no joy! I encouraged them to “loosen up” and enjoy the ride.

Sometimes as coaches we get so “locked in” that our intensity hinders the players from enjoying an activity that is supposed to be FUN! We need to find opportunities to break the monotony and produce a relaxed, joyful atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be anything big or well-planned (though, those type of activities are good, too!) to get your players to enjoy themselves.

A “little thing” that I used to do was to dance for/with the players. We always had music on in the locker room before practice. I could hear it in my office. If it was a “dance-worthy” song, I would come out of my office boogyin’ and shakin’ (being a little silly too!) to the beat of the song. The kids would see me and start cheering! Some would come join me and we’d dance together. I’m sure they thought that “the old man is crazy” but that was ok. I wanted to show them that being together as a team can be (and should be) a joyful experience!

I’m well-known for telling really bad jokes! I love puns and will take any opportunity to share a funny one. I’d get up in front of the team to start a meeting… appearing all serious… and then tell a silly joke! The kids would moan and groan but it was fun!!!

Now… you have to be careful, particularly with adolescents, that “fun” doesn’t spill over the line to what I call “funny.” This is when you allow things to get out of hand. The player who has some issues with self-control can say/do something that is inappropriate. The player who’s a bit of a show-off will try to bring too much attention to himself. This has to be dealt with. A brief team meeting usually sets people straight. If not, a 1-on-1 with that player who is trying to be “funny” may be necessary.

You need some wisdom to recognize when someone does step over the line and deal with it. If not, it can cause the whole team to lose focus.

All of this changes on game day. Rarely do you find me relaxed on game day. I put on my “game face” early in the day and I expect our players to be the same way. We’ll have fun after we win that night!!!

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