Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Goal-planning for the 2015 Season

Posted by admin January - 7 - 2015 - Wednesday

I conducted my annual (rising) seniors luncheon and goal-planning meeting last week before the holidays ended and the players went back to school. I have been doing this for the last 20 years or so. I invite the rising seniors to lunch and then we gather to discuss our goals for the upcoming season. It always provides an effective venue for seeing where the players are looking to go and what level of expectation they have for the upcoming year. By doing it now, I can reinforce how important it is to properly prepare by lifting, running and/or participating in other sports during the off-season. I don’t remember where I first heard it but it’s true: Championships are built from January to July! If you wait to start in August when practice begins, you’re too late.

We took a radically different approach to our goal setting this year. I’ve read several books by Pete Carroll and Nick Saban the last year or so. I’ve commented on them in previous blogs on this website. Check them out. After what we went through this past season (a 5-5 record and a rash of injuries), I decided it was time to look at our team goals from a different perspective. I explained to the seniors gathered around me that, this year, we are not going to talk about winning a conference championship as a goal. We are not going to set a state championship as our ultimate goal. I told them that “everybody wants to win. That’s really just paying lip service to something that anybody who plays a competitive sport is wishing for. Saying ‘I want to win’ doesn’t mean a whole lot.” It really doesn’t mean a whole lot unless the players and coaches are willing to emphasize the steps needed to get to that championship. What we are going to focus on this year is what Coach Nick Saban calls his “process.” We are going to be more “process-oriented” rather than “results-oriented.” We want to develop a process of excellence. Our pyramid of success (which I first learned about from the legendary basketball coach John Wooden) is going to be the “building blocks” that, when constructed properly, leads to winning. We’re going to work hard— but on the right things! We’re not going to wear on our sleeve the desire to win a championship. Instead, we’re going to be careful to emphasize the steps needed to get there. Again… we want to develop a process of excellence for our football team.

So, I told the guys that I am going to set our ultimategoal for the upcoming season. Then, it was their job to brainstorm the building blocks to achieve that ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal which I set for our 2015 season is: We are going to strive, on a daily basis, to be the best possible team that we are capable of being!!! I’m sure they were waiting for me to fire them up with something along the lines of “going undefeated” or “state championship” but, no… we’re going to emphasize the process— NOT the results! I like the way Saban puts it: “We want to BE a champion… not become a champion!

We spent the next 30 minutes brainstorming ideas that these really intelligent young men whom I have the pleasure of coaching came up with that would meet the criterion of developing a process of excellence. I’m not going to share them all now. If you want more information, send a private message and I’ll help you. Suffice it to say, we left that meeting excited about what the new year holds for us as a team and as teammates! It’s the seniors’ job now to spread this new concept to their teammates. I am confident that they will accept that challenge and begin laying the foundation for our pyramid of success.

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