Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

How to Get Kids to QUIT Your Team!!!

Posted by admin April - 30 - 2014 - Wednesday

This post comes compliments of Coach Joe Daniel. He said I could use it if I promoted his website! Sooooooooooooo…. please check out Lots of good information and material there.

I’m going to take a “reverse psychology” approach to a problem that coaches share with me all the time— “Why are kids not coming out for my football program?” OR… “I was counting on that kid and he decided not to play.” I’m going to share 5 ways that you can pretty much guarantee that a kid will refuse to come out for your team. Remember: the fastest (and oftentimes) and most effective communication about your program is by word of mouth. You build a reputation as a coach by how successful you are BUT…. that reputation is also build on how you run your program and treat your players! Here are 5 ways to ensure that a kid will quit on you:

1- Assume a player knows anything. We all know what the “definition” of assume is, right? When you start practice, you coach from the perspective that a) a veteran has forgotten everything I taught him last year and b) a rookie knows nothing about our program. When you assume that a kids knows what you want, you are in for big trouble! Coach Daniel says this: “If you didn’t teach ti, they don’t know it.”

2- Call into question a player’s injury. When you use the old “quilt trip” on a player to get him to “heal up” faster, you are running the risk of other players choosing not to play for you. With the general concern about concussions today, you need to be very careful about how you treat kids with injuries. I came up with a plan that has worked well for our program. I tell our Trainer and Team Doctor: “I won’t bother you about injuries if you don’t bother me about a particular call I made!” I keep a firm and clear line between who does the injury treatment and who does the coaching. Then… when a player is hurt, you need to encourage him— not castigate him for being hurt. One of our captains injured his knee in the first quarter of our 1st game this past fall. He missed the rest of the season. I made sure that he was there early enough for every game so he would go out to make the coin toss call. It was the least I could do for a young man who meant so much to us.

3- Do a lot of pointless running. Fooball is a game of short bursts! Any distance running is a waste of time. Anyone who takes the Herb Brooks Miracle approach to “On the line. Do it again!” and runs suicides for 20 minutes is putting himself in a position where kids are going to quit on him. Do lots of change of direction drills. Find ways to incorporate position-specific conditioning drills. You can’t make running fun, but you can make it worthwhile.

4- Run “David vs. Goliath” hitting drills— especially in pre-season. Pitting a young, inexperienced player against your best veteran hitter is a recipe for disaster. You may think you’re building toughness but, more than likely, you’re creating a fear of contact a young player may never overcome. You want to put them in situations where they at least have a chance to be successful. Getting a kid physically humiliated in front of his teammates puts him in a situation where he won’t even attempt to compete. I’m a firm believer in building toughness. The key word being building. Some players come to high school with that toughness factor already instilled in him from middle school or Youth football. Others, you may have to cultivate. I had a player in middle school (when I coached there for a couple of years after retirement) who was very “gun shy.” He was a great kid and a fine athlete. He just didn’t like to hit. Three years later, he earned All District honors and is now playing football at the US Coach Guard Academy! I ran into him at the gym over spring break and asked him what happened. “What occurred that you changed so much and became such a great linebacker?!” He told me that his high school coaches kept putting him in drills where he could compete. Once he discovered that he could “dish it out” and not get injured if he plowed into someone, it was like something clicked in his head!

5- Play favorites. Every coach has his favorites. We are all human. I tell our players that I DO play favorites— my favorite players are the ones who hustle their tail off, have a great attitude and like to hit. If you can do those things on a consistent basis, you’ll get a chance to play. There’s no doubt that people need to be treated differently. “Fair” does not mean that we treat everyone the same. It does mean that we show respect to ALL of our players. They need to know that you care about them as more than just players. You never know who that “punky little freshman” might grow up to be! We had one of those back in the early 90’s. My JV coach actually cut him in pre-season. He was 5’3 and 135 pounds. We feared for his well-being. Fortunately, he showed up for practice the following Monday because we found out over the week-end that 7 JV players were academically ineligible. The guy played sparingly until one game in the middle of their season. The starting running back got hurt and they had to put him in. He ended up scoring a couple of times that game and continued that onslaught the rest of the JV season. I promoted him at the end of the year; put him in a Varsity game; gave him the ball and he went 70 yards on his first touch! He earned All State honors his senior year. Virginia Tech gave him a full scholarship (he was up to 5’8 and 185 by then) and then played 3 years in the NFL! He could’ve walked away as a freshman in high school. We gave him a chance, though, and, as they say, the rest is history!!!

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