Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Little Things

Posted by admin December - 5 - 2011 - Monday

Things keep coming up when I talk with other coaches that would lend themselves to a follow-up book to my first 101 Little Things… but… I’m not compiling another 101 so I’ll write them up here! I touched on this subject in my book; but, since it’s come up twice since my season ended, I figured it’s worth discussing. The subject is: instituting your system in your lower level programs.

I think it is a fatal flaw in your football (or any sport!) program’s organization if you don’t have your JV, Freshman, JJV, Middle School… even Pop Warner teams… install your offense and defense at their level. Your chances of building a winning program and sustaining that success are greatly diminished if you fail to get your system going in the younger teams. Having kids at the middle school level already familiar with your play-calling system, your defensive numbering system, your passing tree and/or how you call blitzes is only going to increase the learning curve when they get to the high school. Being able to promote a JV player in mid-season and already have him knowledgable of your system allows you to create depth and longevity.

We started running the Del. Wing T offense in 1989. By 1993, we had our feeder teams running the same offense. By 1995, we were 8 and 2 and we never had a record of worse than 6-4 over the next 11 seasons. This year, at my new school, we had our JJV (7th and 8th graders) running the Wing T. I promoted our whole JJV backfield for the last 2 games of the Varsity season. We played a team that we severely over-matched in our final game. For most of the second half of that game, I played the 8th grade backfield in our Varsity game. How was I able to do this? They had run the same offense all year and were proficient enough in it to run the basic plays and score twice!

If you as the Head Coach have the responsibility of running your school’s entire program, then you need to call a staff meeting with ALL of your coaches and tell them that all teams will be installing your offensive and defensive schemes. That is your prorogative as the man in charge of the whole program. You will have to set up meetings with your coaches of these younger teams to teach them the system. I would encourage you to make time to attend a few practices to observe the installation process. You will have to “coach the coaches” until they understand it well enough to stand alone.

When I coached in the public school setting, I did not have the direct authority to tell our middle school coaches what offense and defense to run. However, I set up a meeting with them to encourage them to run our system. I offered training and support for them while they learned it. They liked what they saw and bought in 100%. They had a lot of success running the Wing T over the next 15 years. If you make your presentation in a positive and helpful manner… explaining how important your feeder system is (that’s them!)… you can usually “sell” your system to the younger programs. I even began to reach out to the Rec League and Pop Warner coaches. Offering a coach’s clinic in the summer was helpful in building good will. It’s a matter of reaching out to these coaches. Most want to help make your high school team successful. It’s a matter of community pride.

It requires more work on your part but nobody said it was going to be easy to become the consistently successful program that you dream of! Getting the younger teams’ coaches on board with your system is one of those Little Things that can build a consistently successful high school program.

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