Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Beat the Heat!

Posted by admin August - 17 - 2010 - Tuesday

If it’s as hot where you are as it has been here in Tidewater Virginia then you know it’s HOT!!! I hope that all of you are being careful to deal with the heat and humidity in an effective way. I still marvel at the fact that when I played back in the 60’s and early 70’s, drinking water was considered a BAD thing! We loaded up with salt tablets before practice (just so all of the water in our system would be “soaked up” by the sodium!) and then took no water breaks during a grueling 3 hour practice.

I want to mention a couple of things you can do to be sure that your athletes are properly hydrated during practice. First, remind them to re-hydrate after practice when they get home at the end of the day then… lots of water before they come to practice. Secondly, we let the kids bring a big jug of water on the field with them. If they are not involved in a drill, and with the coach’s permission, a player can jog over and get a drink and hustle back to his group. OR… if you have student managers/trainers, they can walk around the practice field with squirt bottles and give a player in need of water a shot of H2O. Be sure to include WATER BREAK as one of your Periods on your written practice schedule. If, God forbid, something were to happen to a player during practice and a meeting with your principal and/or an attorney was required, you could present your practice schedule with a prescribed Water Break, or two, on it as evidence of your taking the time to be sure they are hydrated.

From a psychological standpoint, I learned something from a former assistant coach that helped our kids cope with the mental part of dealing with the heat of August practice.

I came out of the coaches’ office one morning as we prepared for practice and could see that the kids were dragging already. It was 8 am and the temp was already in the 90’s! I called them together and told them the following “story”— tongue in cheek: “Guys, I just got off the phone with Coach “Jones” (of our upcoming first game opponent). I told him that it is realllllllllly hot today and if he would agree NOT to practice his team today, then we wouldn’t practice either. Thus, we’d stay even in our preparation. Well, gentlemen, Coach “Jones” said ‘No’— that the Eagles had to practice. Soooooooo… we have to practice too! When you get hot and sweaty out there today, just remember: it’s Coach “Jones'” fault. I was going to give you the day off. But since the Eagles are practicing, we have to practice too. We don’t want to let them get ahead of us in preparation, do we? Ya’ll do want to win this first game don’t you?! Then, get out there and take it out on Coach “Jones”— cuz he’s the reason that you have to practice today! And… remember that the night of the game!”

Of course, there was NO phone call. And the veterans knew I was doing it tongue in cheek; but it became one of those “team traditions” that the kids came to expect. You have to be an effective story teller if you’re going to be an effective communicator.

And… while I’m at it— this came up the other day. The Mom of one of my players from last year called me. Her son is at the high school now but she needed to “vent” to someone. Right off the bat, one of the high school coaches had been disrespectful to her and her son. Now, a good athlete has chosen NOT to play football. He was publically embarrassed in front of his teammates and then when the parent confronted the coach, she felt that he was rude to her. Guys: please don’t alienate the parents. If you feel you can’t keep lines of communication open with parents for FEAR of them badgering you about why Junior isn’t getting any playing time, etc.— then you are coaching in the wrong decade and century. People are going to be confrontive. You need the people skills to listen and defuse… not avoid them or attack them if they want to talk. You want to build bridges, not walls! Just sayin’!!!

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