Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

ALL In??!!!

Posted by admin January - 24 - 2017 - Tuesday

I’m hearing from several coaches that some of their key returnee’s are not showing much interest in their off-season program. “What can I do to motivate them to get in the weight room?” they ask! If I could answer THAT question, I’d be out speaking to 1000’s of people every day making a LOT of money!!! My only response is: WHAT are you doing to make your off-season program appealing to your players?

People are almost naturally drawn to something they find pleasant; while they avoid things that are deemed UNpleasant. If you want to draw your players into your weight room, then you have to provide something they find helpful to them and/or enjoyable to do. Just telling your players that you want them to get faster, stronger and bigger is not THAT appealing. This is why it takes a couple of years for the weight room to “catch on.” Kids need to see their peers starting to bulge out of their t shirts when they see them in the classroom or at the mall. They need to see them dominate on the field to see the benefits of lifting. Then they might decide that “maybe I can look like THAT if I lift?!”

But… what if you can’t wait 3-4 years? You have to come up with a “gimmick” to draw them into the weight room. The most effective way is what behavioral psychologists call positive reinforcement. Some would call it a “bribe” but that’s not fair because a bribe is payment for doing something that’s immoral or illegal. Getting into your off-season program is both positive and healthy. *Unless you do something waaaaaaay over the top like the guy did at Oregon the other week! BE CAREFUL about pushing them too soon!!! That’s a NEGATIVE reinforcement and that will drive high school kids AWAY from your program.

What can you offer to get kids to try your program? Positive reinforcement is simply another word for “REWARD.” When someone performs an act that we want them to do again (come back to the workout the next day!) then reward them. I don’t know if any of you took any Psychology classes in college. (I was a Psych major so I took plenty of them!) The one that I found to be most interesting was the Behavioral Psych class where my lab partner and I trained a rat to press a bar to turn on a light which he touched to ring a bell. Then by touching the bell, the rat got a little food pellet as a reward for “performing.” I found it fascinating that 1- the rat was “smart” enough to perform those activities (in the designated order, by the way. He’d head straight to the bell and ring it but… NO food! He had to do the other 2 things first!) and 2- that I had enough patience to train him!!! That experience helped me a LOT during my coaching career when I had some players who weren’t quite as motivated as that lab rat!

What can you offer your players that will encourage them to “ring the bell” to get their treat? Rewards can be as simple as a Chic Fil A $1 gift card. Or… a gold star on a chart. Or a card that gets them a free ice cream for lunch in the school caf. The important thing is that it has to be immediate at the beginning. You are shaping their behavior. Like a slot machine, if you want someone to keep sticking coins in it, there have to be small pay outs in the beginning. Don’t wait a month or even a week to reward your guys for (at the beginning) just attending. If you can get them coming back, they will begin to SEE the changes in their body. This should help to at least get them in the door.

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