Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Belichick on Navy Football

Posted by admin November - 16 - 2017 - Thursday

This was just too good to pass up!
My local newspaper (yes, I’m old school!!! Still read the paper version delivered to my house every day!) had an article in the Sports section by Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post on Bill Belichick. He was visiting the Naval Academy football team recently and Steinberg had a chance to interview Belichick. The quote he got from Belichick spoke volumes about Belichick’s coaching philosophy and, in my mind, explains why the NE Patriots are so successful year in and year out.

Belichick said, “When I look back on it, one of the things I learned at Annapolis, when I grew up around the Navy football teams (his dad was an assistant coach there in the ’60’s)— I didn’t know any differently. I just assumed that’s what football was. Guys were very disciplined. They worked very hard. They did extra things. They were always on time, alert, ready to go, team-oriented, unselfish. I thought that’s the way it all was. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I can see how that molded me.”

Note the last sentence… the impact that this environment had on Belichick influenced… no, molded… him into the coach that he is today! What he saw growing up is the bedrock foundation of the Patriot’s football program. It needs to be yours too!

“But, not all (not many!) are like those Midshipmen of the Naval Academy,” you say. That’s true! That doesn’t mean that you can’t “motivate” your players to strive to be more like those Navy football players that Belichick grew up around. How do you accomplish this? I believe it’s through accountability and responsibility.

You don’t have to be a dictator or a tyrant. Kids will respond to discipline if that’s what you expect of them. You make them accountable by enforcing basic rules that are necessary for any organization to function properly. (Look at those qualities again that Belichick said that he observed in the Navy football players.) If your players fail to live up to the standards that you set, there are consequences. Just be sure that “the punishment fits the crime!”

The responsibility part of this falls on you as the coach. You teach responsibility by being responsible. You, as the coach, have a responsibility to hold your coaches and your players accountable. If you fail to fulfill that responsibility, you are falling down on what a head coach is supposed to do.

One final note: 1- it won’t be easy. Changing a culture of laziness or irresponsibility takes time. It’s like turning a huge aircraft carrier. But, if you start in the off-season in the weight room establishing a sense of accountability, it will be easier when practice starts. 2- You’re going to have to be PERSISTENT. Too many times, I see coaches/leaders who start out all “fired up” but lose that fire over a period of weeks or months. It takes hard work to stick to something. It requires discipline and self-control— not the easiest character traits to maintain over a period of time. *Think: “New Year’s resolutions!” But, if you really care about making a difference in your program and ultimately in your coaches and player’s lives, you will persevere!

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