Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Building and Maintaining a Program

Posted by admin April - 5 - 2016 - Tuesday

I am reallllllllllllly enjoying mentoring 3 young coaches as they continue their off-season study and preparation. One of them asked the other day, “Coach, how did you maintain such a high level of success over such a long period of time?” My reply? “You haven’t ready my book, have you??!!!” That’s the whole basis for writing 101 Little Things!

I told him that there are many factors involved in this process but I think 3 things that you have to be sure you do everyyear are:

1) You need a strong off-season weight and speed program. As the head coach, I felt like I had to be in the weight room every day it was open. Your presence there sets the tone and sets an example. Believe me, your players notice that you are there every time they work out. If you’re there, then you have the right to speak to a player when he doesn’t show up. It also builds what I call “POSITIVE peer pressure.” The kids begin to nudge the other guys to make the commitment that’s necessary to get the most of your off-season program. There’s a sense of comparaderie that’s built in the weight room that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. Find ways to get all of your players involved.

2) Sophomores need to play Varsity! Now, I know that Virginia is different than some states as far as how many teams they have and how the players (by grade-level) are allocated. In Virginia we have Middle School foootball (grades 6-8); JV (grades 9 and 10) then Varsity (typically 11 and 12). What I discovered early in my head coaching career was that we had too many kids who wanted to be “JV Superstars!”— so they would stay “down” and play JV their Sophomore year just so they could realllllllllllly shine. That was fine for the individual but BAD for our program!
So, the policy I instituted (and fought hard to change attitudes!) was: If you start on the JV as a Freshman, you have accomplished ALL you need on the JV level. You need to be on the Varsity the next 3 years. Everyone— no matter what level, NFL, college or high school— has to go through a rookie season! We encouraged the guys to come out for Varsity as 10th graders; get used to that level of play; fight for some playing time… maybe on special teams; earn your letter and…….. be ready to be a 2 year starter for us! That proved to be much more successful than having a player just start his senior year.
It also means that your Freshmen get to play a LOT on JV which helps on “both ends.” Which is my third key!

3) Make sure you are visiting your Feeder School/s every year! Try to attend a middle school game. Get out to a Pop Warner game or two and make your presence known. Become a familiar face in your community.
Then… in the spring, make an appointment through the middle school administration or A.D. to have a meeting with ALL 8th graders who are interested in playing football next year at your high school. Get each boy’s contact information; hand out a flyer with important upcomming dates and activities and tell them how important they are to the future of your program… because they ARE!!!

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