Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Discipline vs. Punishment

Posted by admin July - 11 - 2017 - Tuesday

There are, unfortunately, times that you have to punish players because of rules infractions. That’s why it’s important to keep your “rules” to a minimum. Cuz… if you make a rule and a player breaks it, you are forced to implement the punishment. If you ignore enforcement, you’ve set yourself up for bigger problems. Here are a couple of examples of punishment:

We value being on time in our program. If you are late, unless it is excused; i.e., parent’s note explaining why the player is late or a teacher’s note that she kept the player back after school, then you are going to suffer the consequences. I stationed a coach at the entrance to our practice field. He kept track of when the whistle blew to start practice. For every minute a player was late, it was an “up/down.” *You can modify that to fit your needs. I know a coach who has them do a full burpee for every 30 seconds a player is late.

We do not tolerate unsportsmanlike penalties in practice or games. NO fighting in practice… period! An unsportsmanlike penalty in a game is going to cost you 200 yards of driving the 1 man tackling stick up and down the field. And… he has 3 minutes to get it done. I like to have football “skills” that they work on while doing the punishment. Driving a sled or tackling a bag are more “football-related” punishments than just running or doing grass drills.

Discipline is related to self-control. We’re trying to teach something. I do a set of push ups each night before I go to bed. My wife once said, “Lew, you are the most disciplined person I’ve ever met!” It’s simply developing a habit! And… that takes reps and reps and reps! Till, it’s just “something you do without thinking!” Some psychologists call it a “positive addiction!” You’re in the habit of doing something that is healthy.

The same thing goes in football. Reps (quality reps!) are so important to developing “muscle memory patterns” and, thus, having your body perform an activity to the best of your ability. We want our players to hustle everywhere they go on the field— which in turn will hopefully teach them to “hustle” in life! If I call the team up for a talk and they don’t (at least) jog over to me, they have to go back and come over again. If the offense jumps off side during practice, they do 5 push ups for each yard a 5 yard penalty costs them in a game! When you discipline, you are training. This is why I’m so big on positive reinforcement! I’ve said it before but I’ll say it here again:
IF you want a behavior repeated, reward it!!!

Look for opportunities to praise a player. But, at the same time, don’t let them “get away” with something if they fail to meet an expectation.

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