Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Building a Coaching Philosophy

Posted by admin February - 21 - 2017 - Tuesday

I was invited by a head coach to spend some time with him to help him build a coaching philosophy. I was happy to help because having a philosophy was a factor in the success that I had as a HC. It also brought to mind a book by Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks (I think I commented on it in a post from a couple of years ago) that I read where Pete shared that his head coaching career didn’t “take off” until he sat down and developed a coaching philosophy. I was surprised that someone who’d risen to the top of our profession (Carroll was the HC for the NY Jets earlier in his career… and was fired!) didn’t have a philosophy of coaching!!! It emphasized to me how important having a philosophy is. I want to bring up some thoughts that I shared with this local coach to help him build his philosophy.

Before we met, I sent him a bunch of Word doc’s that I had stored in my computer over the years. They all had, in some way, information about philosophy. What I asked him to do before I arrived, though, was to answer these 3 questions:
1- In just a few sentences, tell me: WHY DO YOU COACH HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL?
2- When you finally retire from coaching, what do you want said about you at your retirement banquet? List at least 3 things.
3- How would you describe your style of leadership?
Then… finally, craft a MISSION STATEMENT for your school’s football program.

These 3 questions focus on the key components of “building a coaching philosophy.” First is purpose. WHY do you coach? Next is your VALUES. This includes both your personal values (what you deem important in your life) and… your “coaching” values. For me, those were: hustle/great effort; respect and cooperation (I never allowed teammates to fight on the practice field! It meant staying after practice with me!) and, self-discipline. (We did not want to beat ourselves with stupid mental errors.) Finally, your style of leadership indicates to you how you’re going to treat your players and how involved you’re going to be in their lives.

You take these 3 components and mix them together and you come up with your (general) philosophy. What does that mean? It’s HOW you’re going to run your program!

I started my talk with the coach by painting a picture of a high-rise building being built. I talked about how: before you can go UP… the construction people have to go DOWN! My wife and I had a Florida Room added to our house a few years ago. I was amazed at how long it took to build the FOUNDATION! In fact, compared to building the rest of the room, the foundation (by itself) took more time than the rest of the construction! I thought about how much further down and how much rebar and cement they’d have to lay for a 12 story building… than they did for my addition! But… if the foundation isn’t firm, what happens when you start building floors? Right! The building is not steady and when a “storm” comes, that building is going to crumble.

The same is true with your football program. The “building” represents your program— the players, your coaches, the parents, the boosters and administrators. Your program is going to get battered by a “storm” at some point. It’s inevitable… cuz you’re dealing with people! Your philosophy of coaching is your foundation. Without a philosophy in place, just like that building with the poorly-constructed foundation, it’s going to fall. You NEED a philosophy to stand firm. It is the basis for HOW you’re going to conduct your program.

I hope this has caused you to pause! If you’d like more info, I’m glad to send out any doc’s I’ve accumulated over the years. Just send me a “comment” and I’ll get back to you!

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