Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Bouncing Back!

Posted by admin September - 24 - 2013 - Tuesday

We lost our first game of the season this past Friday. We played extremely well against an outstanding team— for the first half! But, momentum shifted on us in the 3rd quarter and we had 4 turn-overs in the second half which spelled our doom! The players were very upset after the game.

What do you say to a bunch of teenage boys after a big loss? I said 2 things: 1- it was a good loss! and 2- let’s look at “history” and see what can happen. In both cases, I cautioned the coaches about not being critical of an individual and his performance and to be upbeat and positive during practice on Monday. I think this is critical for any coach after a loss. Your players are looking to you for their “signals” on how they are supposed to act. If you as their coach is coming negative and discouraged, they’re going to think they’re supposed to act the same way. I watched several of the players come by my office door before practice. They tried to act nonchalant as they peered in; but, they wanted to see how I responded to them as they went by. I smiled and nodded to each of them as if to say: “It’s a new day! We’re fine. I’m not mad at you. I’m upbeat— you be upbeat.”

What do I mean by a “good loss?” We learned a valuable lesson about “continuing to play” no matter what the score is. We got ahead in the first half by 3 scores. We went in at halftime with a 10 point lead. Everyone was confident and… yep, relaxed! Too relaxed! The other team came fighting back and took the lead late in the 3rd quarter. Our kids lost their composure and it was downhill from there. What did I tell them yesterday? “We play with confidence; we play with composure. Stay focused on doing your job.” We failed to do that and we unraveled (particularly on offense) in the second half. It’s a life lesson that is far more valuable than whether we won or lost the game!

What did I focus on yesterday at practice? “History!” I asked them to recall Alabama’ situation after last year’s defeat (on their home turf) to Texas A&M. They re-grouped; played well the rest of the year and ended up as National Champions. We need to do the same thing.

Stay positive. If you don’t promote hope for those young men, who is? Correct mistakes and practice with a little more intensity but let them know… that effort is the key! You will never be disappointed in them as long as they give 100%!

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