Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

3D Coaching

Posted by admin March - 31 - 2015 - Tuesday

I was asked to speak to a group of football coaches who were attending a clinic in Nags Head, NC last weekend. Interestly, it was not about football! The Fellowship of Christian Athletes Area Director for Coastal NC provided lunch for the coaches on Saturday. He invited me to come down and share my testimony with the coaches after lunch. It was a group of about 50 coaches. I talked about a subject that I’ve covered in this blog before: “Building a Fire Wall between who you are and what you do. The coaches seemed to be listening and several came up afterwards to thank me for the message.

Scott Williams, the FCA Area Director who invited me, was so nice. He gave me an FCA golf shirt but, more importantly, passed along a book that I want to encourage all coaches to read. Actually, anybody who works with kids should read this book! It’s entitled 3D Coach. Capturing the Heart Behind the Jersey. Great title! It’s by Jeff Duke.

Duke points out in the Introduction that this book (and this style of coaching) isn’t your typical coaching book. It’s not about X’s and 0’s or game planning or training techniques. He says that 3D Coach is about…”going deeper. It’s about seeing your athletes in three dimensions– body, mind and spirit. It’s about the art of coaching. It’s about discovering what your true purpose is as a coach and rediscovering the joy you may have lost along the way.”

The author relates his experiences—trials, errors and successes— in becoming a 3D coach. I’m looking forward to digging into the book and seeing what Coach Duke can teach me.

The theme of this book relates to my time this morning in a pick-up truck with my friend and his teenage daughter! Lemme splain! (That’s my reference to my all-time favorite movie! Anyone know which movie I’m talking about??!! Hint: “You killed my father; prepare to die!)

I have been meeting with this young man for almost 2 months now. We normally meet at Chic Fil A and have breakfast while we share what’s gone on in our lives during the past week, study the Bible a little bit and just encourage and challenge each other to live lives that honor God. This morning he had to run an errand. So instead of meeting at the restuarant, we rode out to a neighboring city in his truck to pick up some supplies that he needed for work. On the way, he got a text from his teenage daughter that she was sent to the office because of “inappropriate dress”; i.e., wearing leggings with no shorts over them. My buddy was fuming! I said, “Come on, let’s ride over there and get her… take her home and change and we’ll drive her back to school. And, oh… now we can both “embarrass” her for not following the school’s rules!”

During the ride home, his daughter asked me, “Coach J., do you think my dad can coach soccer?!” A loaded question! I replied, “I think your dad could coach any sport and do well!” My buddy chimed in, “I may not know much about soccer but I can learn the game. What I do know is how to coach kids!” That really struck me.

With the knowledge of just having started to read 3D Coach fresh in my mind, I asked my friend to explain what he meant. I might add that this guy is a highly successful businessman! He stated, “A coach may not be the most knowledgeable about his sport but… he knows how to motivate kids. He knows how to build relationships with his players so that they want to play for him. His players know that they mean more to him than just being a great soccer or baseball player.” I thought to myself that this is exactly what Coach Duke is stressing in his book!

If we really want to impact the lives of our players, we have to be more than “one-dimensional” coaches. Too often we fall into the category of being a “task-oriented” coach. We are demanding a lot from our players because we want them (and us!) to be successful. That will ultimately lead to a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration. Duke calls this “one-dimensional” coaching style the “method that focuses mostly on the physical aspects of sport.”

I’ve mentioned before in previous posts what an admirer of the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, I am. I love this quote of his: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that separates the great coaches from the average ones.” Coach Wooden is saying that great coaches continue to be “students of the game” well into their careers. Great coaches continue to search out new ways to teach, to encourage and challenge their players.

Do you want to be a great coach? business leader? parent? Then you need to find new ways to “coach” based on what your athletes need. It’s a new world out there. What may have worked in the past may need some modifying or just plain overhauling! I want to encourage you to learn to be a “three-dimensional” coach. Yes, build up that players’ physical body; challenge them to become mentally tougher but… don’t forget to help them mature in their spiritual life too.

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