Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

“Grab Some Gold!”

Posted by admin March - 31 - 2016 - Thursday

Sorry that I’m late this week. My wife and I just spent 2 days in Williamsburg with our older granddaughter— fun!!! I actually went zip-lining for the first time in my life on Tuesday. Admittedly, it was the “Junior” course but… for someone who’d DEATHLY afraid of heights, I felt pretty good about myself— even if it was just 15 feet off the ground!!! And once I got the hang of it, I even “stuck” my last couple of landings coming down the zip line!! Not bad for almost 67 years old!

A tradition that we started years ago is one of the more effective motivators we’ve used as part of our pre-game warm up routine. It started as simply “walking the field” when we arrived at an Away game. I just liked to see the condition of the field before we went out for our team warmups. The players asked if they could “walk along” too. So, they joined me. After a while, we decided to do the same thing at home games. If you haven’t read my book, 101 Little Things, you should know that we take a “nap” at all home games. Yes! All of our starters are required to go into our Team Room and lie down for 30 minutes. Lights are out; no talking; and most of them nod off to sleep pretty quickly.

Once we wake up from our nap, we walk the field. At the public school I coached at, we had a GIANT bear claw painted on the 50 yard line. When I say “giant'” I’m talking from 45 to 45 and one hash to the other! We would start our Walk in one end zone and walk out towards the 50 yard line. I don’t know why but one game I felt the need to stop all of the players and talk to them right there and then. We got to the 50 and I told them to “circle up” around the Claw. I shared a few inspirational words and then we walked the rest of the way to the far end zone… then back into the locker room to start getting dressed.

The players liked it so much that they asked if we could do it EVERY week. At some point, it dawned on me that “Gold” symbolizes excellence. Our school colors were navy and gold. The Claw was painted gold. As we circled around the Claw, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about that Claw and its significance… plus the fact that it was a Golden Claw. On the spur of the moment, I told everyone to reach down and “grab some gold!” “Take a couple of gold blades of grass and hold them in your hand,” I said. As I finished talking, I said that we’re carrying that gold to the far end zone and we’re going to “sprinkle some gold” in the end zone for “good luck!” It must have helped because our record at home for the last 15 years I coached there was like 90%! As superstitious as most athletes are, once the kids saw that “grabbing some gold” and sprinkling it in the end zone “worked!”— they ALWAYS wanted to do it.

Now… as I tell our players, you have to be able to “Adjust on the Run.” When I arrived at the private academy that I coached at for the last 5 years, our Field Engineer would not let us paint a “giant” fleur de lis (think N.O. Saints!) in the middle of the field. “It will kill the grass,” he said. OK… how can we still “grab some gold” if there’s NO gold emblem at the 50 yard line??!!

Again, 101 Little Thing readers… you know about the “Midnight Gold Diggers” and the “Gold Dot Club.” I asked our Field Engineer if he would be willing to paint a Gold Dot (about the size of a basketball) in the end zone back on the back line? “No problem,” he replied. Soooooooo… we would get up after our nap, walk out to the stadium, walk down to the far end zone and “circle up” around the gold dot. I would give my talk and then have everyone crowd in and “grab some gold” (from the dot) and we would walk the field. We would deposit our gold leaves in the far end zone and walk back into the locker room.

The players loved it and it was one more of those “Little Things” that traditions of excellence are built upon.

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