Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

“Less of me; more of You!”

Posted by admin May - 3 - 2017 - Wednesday

I’ve found that one of the most powerful verses in the entire Bible was uttered by John the Baptist. When asked by his disciples about losing his place of status because Jesus had come on the scene, John uttered, “I must diminish so He can increase.” John was talking about status, popularity and power. This is a situation that all of us as coaches need to address. My question to you is: WHY do you coach football?!” There are many good reasons but, unfortunately, one bad one! And the bad one can cause problems for you, the staff you work with and the entire football program.

Some of you know that I retired from coaching after the 2015 season. I spent last season helping a local school (on a limited basis) install the Delaware Wing T offense. I stayed on through the season attending 1 practice a week and spotting in the press box on game night. It was very rewarding and I met a lot of great guys. But, I told the HC at the end of the season that I would not be back. I have continued to mentor him and enjoy helping him build the culture of his program.

A month or so ago, I felt the Lord leading me to approach the current HC at our local high school about being a “Consultant” for him. This is the same school that I was the HC for 22 very successful seasons. When my decision went public, I had a lot of people (including some members of my family!) chide me for doing it. “How can you go back there and just be an assistant coach?!” “You were the head coach; now you’re going to just help out?!” “Doesn’t that make you uncomfortable that you’re going back where you had so much success as the head man and now you’re just a ‘Consultant?!” People just didn’t get it!

The same (main) reason I coached in the first place hasn’t changed! IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!!!

Sure I love to win- won’t deny it. And I don’t like to lose- hate it. But, I’ve learned over the years that if you’re in coaching (or any other leadership position) to boost your own self-esteem, you’re in it for the wrong reason.

Trying to explain to folks that it doesn’t matter to me that I’m low man on the totem pole doesn’t seem to compute with them. They’re incredulous that I’m not getting my name in the paper as the “Big Cheese;” that I’m not getting the “atta boys” and slaps on the back for winning another game. It’s just not that important. My priority is: I want the kids to have a great experience. I want to help these younger coaches see the impact they have on their players. I want to show these coaches that there is tremendous gratification in helping a teenager see that his significance goes beyond how many TD’s he scores. Our lasting impact as coaches and mentors should be made in that young man’s life OFF the game field. Our interactions with our players must not be limited to just football. And it certainly can’t be to use them as a tool to make us feel better about ourselves.

There’s one more area I want to comment on. For those of you who are married. I had some people look at me kinda strangely when I announced at my retirement 2 years ago that the reason I was retiring after 42 years of coaching was that my wife deserved the first fruits of my time!!! I had put football first waaaaaaaay too often. She was always there to support me and rarely complained. I knew that the Lord was impressing upon me at the end of my career that it was time to put my focus on the things she wanted to do. What she wanted to do was to travel. So right in the middle of last football season, we took a fabulous trip to Europe– a Viking river cruise through France. She was soooooooooo pumped! I loved it too. Now she’s planning our trip for this fall. As much as I’ll hate missing a game, it’s OK! I promised her that she comes first. Don’t shortchange your wives, coaches. She needs you. If you have kids, get them involved with your team as youngsters. Bring them to practice. My son was my “wing man” anytime I went to scout another team. He grew up to play for me and was an All District player his senior year. He still loves sports and is the Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations at a major university.

I say all of this to say: where are your priorities? Make sure you have them in the right order. You’ll be happier and life will be much more fulfilling.

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