Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program


Posted by admin December - 20 - 2016 - Tuesday

One of my favorite local pastors has a slogan that caused me to pause and think about today. His slogan is: “You Cannot Rise to LOW Expectations!” Think about that for a second…. in regards to your attitude toward your individual players and your team/program as a whole. If YOU don’t believe that a particular player is capable of being successful on the field, in the classroom or life in general… you’re very likely setting him up for failure. If YOU don’t think your team is going to be very good next year… you’ve very likely setting them up for failure. Why???? Go back and read Pastor Melvin’s statement again!

Psychologists have shown time and again that our preconceived notions about others whom we meet can and will have a direct impact on their success… or failure. It’s called the “Rosenthal Effect.” In the original study, teachers who were led to believe that a low-achieving student (upon first entering their class at the beginning of the school year) was one of his/her brightest incoming students actually treated this student differently. It produced some amazing results. These low-achieving students “bloomed” in the classroom and were some of the top students by the end of the year!!! Why? Because of the “expectations” that the teacher had for those students. Higher expectations actually led to greater performance!!!

I discussed “motivation” with a coach the other day. I said that I thought it is over-rated! That unless a player wants it, it’s very difficult to motivate them to do any better. That’s when I started thinking back to my Psychology classes in college and remembered the classic study by Robert Rosenthal. It became clear when I coupled it with the pastor’s slogan that we CAN improve our players’ performance!

As coaches, we set the standard. If we don’t expect much, then not much is going to be accomplished. If we work to make our players believe that they are capable of more and keep expecting it of them, positive change can occur. Whereas we CANNOT rise to LOW expectations, we CAN rise to high expectations! It’s a matter of believing in your players, telling (and showing) them that you believe in them and then continuing to encourage them to set high expectations for themselves.

I heard a talk once by former Baylor U. football coach Grant Taeff on his “secrets to success.” One of his secrets was: Set High and Lofty Goals! In other words, dream BIG! We don’t get the chance to coach many superstars during our careers. I was fortunate enough to have 4-5 former players who actually made it to the NFL. That’s out of some 3000 that I coached over 42 years. But, I had plenty of others who were willing to “grind it out” and work to become the best they were capable of being. I truly believe it was because I had HIGH expectations for them and that attitude motivated them to set “high and lofty” goals for themselves!

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