Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for July, 2020

Girls vs. Guys!

Posted by admin July - 28 - 2020 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Because of the “virus scare” and the closing of the fitness center where I worked out, I bought a Beach Cruiser bicycle a few months ago and have been riding a couple of miles each day through my community. It led me to meeting a neighbor who is a former Ice Hockey star. We’ve bumped into each other several times and yesterday we got to talking about coaching.

Now that he’s retired, he’s coached both his daughter and his son in various sports. He shared something that really “jumped out” at me when he said it. Let me share it and then…. YOU think about the impact of it for a minute. What he said was:

The difference between coaching guys and girls is… guys “play well and feel good about themselves” while girls have to “feel good and then they play well!”

WOW!!!

I attempted to coach my daughter in both softball and basketball when she was young. I found it very frustrating. I could not “reach” the girls the way I was “reaching” the guys whom I coached. Flashing back on those futile attempts to coach girls sports occurred as my neighbor uttered those words. “That’s it! He’s right!” I found that if I fussed at the girls or sternly corrected them, they shut down! But… when I encouraged them or (gulp!) laughed with them over a mistake, they responded positively! *”There’s no crying in baseball!” and… there’s no laughing in football coaching!” LOL!

Those of you who read this blog are more than likely coaching guys. So let’s unpack the male side of my friend’s statement. It will shed some light on why I’ve stressed for years that we have to be properly prepared so that we perform at peak performance on game night. Remember: Guys “play well and feel good about themselves.” Why is this so?

First, guys and girls are simply “wired differently.” It’s the way God made us. (Look it up in the Bible… it’s right there in the first chapters of Genesis!) Not that girls aren’t competitive but guys just seem to take it more personally when they lose. I think it’s the competitive spirit that our society infuses into the male ego. As I’ve heard Joe Erhmann speak, he says that “guys compare and compete.” We look at others and accept the challenge to look/perform better. Guys simply feel better about themselves when they win!!!

As coaches, then, it is imperative to strive to bring out the best in our male athletes. Most of them want to be pushed. Guys need encouragement too; but, making corrections and fussing at them when they don’t hustle (one of my pet peeves when I coached!) is almost expected. We need to prepare them properly so they play well. They play well… they usually win! This is why I talked to my teams constantly about “eliminating mistakes.” The team that has the least turn-overs usually wins. I harped on not committing foolish penalties. I stressed execution. It was more important to stop practice and correct a mistake than getting a bunch of plays run before the period ended. If we could out-hustle and out-execute our opponents then our chances to win increased tremendously.

When guys “play better, they feel better.” When they feel better, they subsequently play with more confidence. When they play with more confidence, they play with more vigor. You find that the snowball gets rolling and the momentum that’s built leads to a program that is consistently successful. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden used to say, “I don’t worry too much about my opponent. I focus on preparing MY players… prepare them to compete and execute. Don’t worry about the outcome (winning or losing); focus on correcting mistakes.” Nick Saban has taken this philosophy and created his “process.” It’s worked pretty well for him! You should consider doing the same thing.

The HEAD Ball Coach!

Posted by admin July - 22 - 2020 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

If you’re like me and you are “starved” for some sporting events to watch (that are not college bowl games from 5 years ago!) then I have a show for you! I recorded it so I’m going to watch it again and take notes. It was on the SEC Network last night. The series is called SEC Storied. The episode was about Coach Steve Spurrier… not the “Old” Ball Coach but, the “HEAD” Ball Coach— he corrected the interviewer a couple of times!

I’ve never been a big Spurrier fan. When he was at Florida, I rooted for Florida State. So, I was really glad when Nebraska (who I also liked) crushed Florida in the National Championship game in ’96. This show, however, cast Coach Spurrier in a different light. If you are the type who studies other successful coaches for tips to help you and your program, then you need to find and record this show. I was amazed at the job he did— not just at Florida but later at South Carolina. Did you know that USC won 11 games for 3 straight seasons while Spurrier was there??!! They didn’t win 11 games total while our son was there as an undergraduate in the late 90’s!

One thing that jumped out at me was how many people said that Coach Spurrier was actually a really humble guy! I never saw that in his public demeanor. Whether it was “running it up” in a game— and his histrionics on the sideline— or his snarky comments during interviews, I did not find him to be very appealing. What I did not see, though, was the confidence that he instilled in his players. I believe it was former Tennessee Head Coach Phillip Fulmer who said during the show that “Coach Spurrier not only motivated his players but… he inspired them.”

Your players are going to reflect your personality. What you model is what they are going to exhibit. Keep that in mind as you prepare for your season. In Virginia, it’s not going to be until January. No football this fall!

The “New Normal”

Posted by admin July - 13 - 2020 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

My family and I spent a week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina last week. It was good to get away. We’ve been going to the Nags Head/Duck, NC area of the OBX for almost 40 years. So, it was nice to “get away” and enjoy something of the “old” normal! Cuz what I want to share with you today has to do with the “New Normal” and what that looks like.

Call me a pessimist; though, I prefer realist… but, I have my doubts that any football is going to be played this fall— at ANY level!!! I’ve talked with coaches from about 7 different states in the last 2-3 weeks and they all say the same thing: “Welllllllllllll…. we’re hoping that we get to play. But the way the State Association is talking, I just don’t know.” I think those state associations are just putting off the inevitable!

Now… let me make it clear. I, too, hope we play football this fall! I’m even praying that God would take away this pandemic and get things back to normal— the “old” normal. And, I will continue to pray that prayer. But, I have also learned that God is a LOT wiser than I am and He has a plan and a purpose for every season under heaven. I sense a shaking in the heavenlies and it’s all about re-thinking our priorities and values in our culture.

Think about what our country would look like without football— or basketball next winter! Professional athletes (who are grossly over-paid!) would have to go out and find a real job. Many colleges would have to close their doors for lack of revenue. Without football and B-ball, the money dries up. They can’t afford to keep the doors open. College athletes would have to go to class— to get an education; not to stay eligible. High schools (if they even open) will lose the excitement of school opening and football season starting— bringing excitement and enthusiasm to the school and community. High school athletes wouldn’t have to spend innumerable hours training to get that elusive college scholarship. Entire TV networks would fold. There’s no “big time” sporting events to cover so they have no reason to charge money to watch their programs. Get my point? Our whole culture will change. For the good? Or… bad?

Sports (football in particular) has been a huge part of my life since I was a kid in the ’60’s. *That’s the 19-60’s… not 18!!! LOL It shaped my life— personally and professionally. But maybe we’ve allowed athletics to consume us. What happened to playing sports for the fun of playing and competing? Now it seems… it’s all about the money. Whether it’s a scholarship or a big contract, we seem to have lost sight of what the true value of athletic competition really is.

But… I think we’re going to find out this fall! I hope not. But I think we need to get ready for the “new normal!”