Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Fear and Respect

Posted by admin July - 3 - 2019 - Wednesday

One of my favorite authors (and it has nothing…. welllllllllll, something!…. to do with the fact that he is a native Virginian like me!) is David Baldacci. I’m reading one of his John Puller novels entitled The Escape. One of the characters said something that made me take pause. It was Puller’s dad saying something to the effect that, “when it comes to fear and respect, you want the men under you to fear you more than respect you!”

Now… that may work in the Army. I’ve never been in live combat but I did do some live-fire training when I was in the Reserves. It’s prettttttty intimidating! If your leader says “get up and follow me, you’d better go!”

When it comes to football or business or the classroom… I think a little fear is ok but… respect is much more appropriate to motivate your players to do what you want them to do. Fear may produce results in the short term; but, in the long run, it’s much more effective to develop respect.

Developing respect involves developing relationships. Your players have to know that you care before they care how much you know. I believe that the best way to earn respect from your subordinates is to show them respect.

Now… I’ll be the first to say that I have “gone off” on my team in practice before! I do not curse but I am LOUD!!! And my tone of voice is such that the players know that I am serious. I always make sure that my caustic remarks are said in general and NOT directed at 1 individual. If I’m going to criticize a player, I’ll do that in private. Again, showing respect. If you’re going to set high standards, you have to be willing to “lose” it occasionally so that the players don’t become complacent.

Most of the time, however, I stay upbeat and positive. I like to recognize great effort by a player during practice (or games) cuz I want them to know that total effort is a value that we have high regard for in our program. That positive reinforcement is part of letting your players know that you care.

I have a painting of Knute Rockne, the legendary Notre Dame coach, standing in front of his team in the Fightin’ Irish locker room. On the chalk board (remember, this was the 1930’s) is a statement that says: “Make your opponent FEAR you and RESPECT you!” I think the same thing holds true for your own players too.

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