Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program


Posted by admin August - 22 - 2017 - Tuesday

I think it is very important that you keep the “lines of communication” open throughout the football season. As the coach, you are speaking to your players just about every day. It is also important that you keep your AD and principal informed as to what is going on with your team and/or your program. Administrators don’t like “surprises!” If you know of someone who is going to be calling one of them to complain, let that administrator know ahead of time. Everyone likes a “head’s up!”

This is to encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with the players’ parents, too. Keeping them informed helps to make them feel part of the team. Keep them in the loop.

One of the best ways to do this is to send out a weekly email report to parents, administrators and players. I sent mine out on Sunday evenings each week during the season. It was a brief recap of the previous week’s activities. If you had a game, you can give an analysis of the game. When you do, it is important to stay positive and encouraging. Never denigrate a player (in this case through mass email) in front of the whole team. You can talk about areas that need improvement but speak life… not death!!! I generally didn’t even mention an individual player in my Weekly Report. I stuck to our “BIG team; little me” philosophy even when handing out praise. It’s always a team effort when we won. If we lost, it was MY fault.

I recall that we lost a close game late in the 4th quarter one year. Our regular punter got injured during the game. We got pinned deep in our own territory and had to punt out of our end zone with just a couple of minutes left. There was no reason to go for it— except that our back-up punter was a raw rookie who’d never played football before. I decided to go with him. I mean… what could go wrong?!! Just catch it and kick it! Welllllll, we snapped it to him in the back of the end zone and he proceeded to shank it out of bounds on the 10 yard line!!! Needless to say, the other team scored on the ensuing drive and we lost. After the game, the reporter covering it tried to “bait” me into being critical of our rookie punter who “blew the game.” I would have none of it. I praised him for doing his best in a very tough situation. I also said that I had confidence that he would do better in the future. Two years later, this same boy was the leading kicker in the area and was invited to walk on at a major university!!! At graduation that following June, the punter’s mom sought me out… to thank me for not publicly ridiculing her son. She told me how much she appreciated not making him the scapegoat. By handling it the way I did, it gave her son the motivation to keep working on his kicking!

The Weekly Report is also a time to talk about the coming week’s activities. You can speak a little about your upcoming opponent. Remind the players (and parents) of the weekly practice schedule. If there are any special events, remind them of those. Keep those lines of communication open!

A number of parents thanked me each year for the Weekly Report! They knew what was going on and said that it made them feel like a part of the team.

I closed the Weekly Report with our new “Word (or character trait) of the (next) Week”! That word or trait would be the focus for my “character-building” talks that I would give to the team as the week’s practices progressed. All of this information was presented in one place at one time to everyone involved in the program. It is important to the unity and cohesiveness of your team. Try it. It takes a few minutes each weekend but it’s worth it in producing good will.

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