Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program


Posted by admin April - 6 - 2011 - Wednesday

I had the good pleasure of interviewing and hiring a new coach the other day. This was a rather unique situation in that I hired a gentleman who is even older than me!!! He is 76 years young! and I hope that I feel and look as good as he does when I get to that age! That sounds weird since I’m coming up on 62 in June but it’s all in how you live life!
We talked about a lot of things as the inteview progressed— me trying to get to know him and he wanted to know how I ran our program. One topic that came up was “Coach to Coach relationships.” He wanted me to share a little about how I conduct staff meetings. I told him that, first off, I’m not a big fan of long meetings. We get in, we get to work and we get out! He asked about how we hash things out. I told him that I am not comfortable with agitated confrontation and coaches arguing with each other. I shared how I’ve heard other coaches almost “brag” about the knock down, drag out fights they have “behind closed doors.” But when they leave, they’ll all in agreement!

I watched Coach’s face as I shared this and I could tell that he was uncomfortable. He stated, “we can disagree without being disagreeable! THAT is excellent!!! What great words of wisdom… and experience. This guy has coached on the high school and college level for over 50 years. To hear him say that just confirmed what I’ve always felt: a staff can have differences of opinion but they will be shared in a respectful, mature manner. Too many times people try to win an arguement by out-shouting the other people. It’s like it becomes a bullying session and the testosterone is pumping. I’m convinced that nothing of any good comes out of a meeting (confrontation) like that!

We have to learn to “Get Along With Each Other.” If you are in a staff meeting and there is a disagreement as far as how something should be done, then there are 2 things that need to happen: 1- Attack the problem, not the person. You can’t solve a problem if you’re obsessed with fixing the blame… or getting your way… or not caring about the other person’s opinion. I love what the Bible says about this, “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper outburst.” (Prov. 15:1) In resolving a conflict, how you say something is as (or more!) important than what you say. If you say it offensively, you’ll be received defensively. You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive!

2- Focus on your similarities, not your differences. I can only imagine a managerial staff of a major corporation meeting for their weekly staff session and some manager in charge of marketing wants to get in a “wee wee” match with a senior VP! He begins to raise his voice and tell the VP how “stupid” his idea is. Then someone else shouts, “well, you’re both stupid! I have a strategy that is much better.” Yea, right! That’s not going to happen. Why does it need to happen in a coachs’ meeting? Aren’t we professional, too? We are professionals and we should conduct ourselves as professionals— in private as well as in public.

You can “say” that everybody leaves that meeting in one accord and will stand together publically. I just don’t think so. Somebody’s feelings are hurt. Somebody else feels slighted or worse. It is not a happy staff. What happens next is… that night after practice, the different “camps” all congregate and continue the discussion. What you are developing is a bad case of disunity and disloyalty, Head Coach.

This needs to be covered in your first pre-season staff meeting. New guidelines are laid down as to how business is going to be conducted when you meet. Head Coach— you have to have the gumption to stop the madness! as soon as it starts. If you have a hot-tempered assistant, it would be wise to meet with him one-on-one and tell him that arguments and temper flare-ups are not going to be condoned anymore. If he can’t keep his emotions in check, he will not be allowed to contribute! and then… stick by these rules!!

When it comes down to it, the final (executive) decision must be made by the head coach. You listen to all of the opinions and then tell them “THIS is how it’s going to be done.” You do it respectfully and with calm resolve. You work on: “disagreeing without being disagreeable.”

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