Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Never Assume

Posted by admin August - 15 - 2017 - Tuesday

It’s interesting, informative and (sometimes) entertaining to stand back and actually watch a HS football practice unfold. To be an observer instead of an active participant gives me a whole different perspective. One thing I’ve noticed is how effective the communication is between coaches and players. I’ve come to realize in only 2 weeks that, as a coach, you have to be verrrrrrrry careful not to assume anything when you’re dealing with teen-aged boys!

You’ve probably heard the adage: “Never assume! Cuz assuming something will make an A-S-S out of U and ME!!!” As a coach, you cannot take it for granted that a player has understood your instructions. The coaches I’m advising get upset when a 2nd team player makes a mistake that a starter was corrected for 10 minutes before. First off, the back up probably wasn’t even paying attention when the starter was corrected and… now that it’s his turn, he’s pretty much clueless on how he is supposed to execute his position. Assuming that the back up was listening is just going to cause heart burn on everyone’s part.

Sooooooo… if we are to never assume that your instructions are clearly understood and will be carried out, how should we proceed to be sure that coaching instructions are followed correctly?

One thing you can do is to get the player to repeat back what you just told him. Say, “Now… you’re the coach. Coach me on what I’m supposed to do.” Then have him repeat it back to you in a practical situation. That way, you are checking to be sure they’ve been paying attention and understand what you were teaching them. How many times has someone explained something to you and you nodded your head in affirmation when in reality you had NO clue what they were explaining? That happened to me when we had life insurance agents in the house! The agent would sit there and go over all of the benefits the new policy provided. I didn’t want to appear dumb… so, I just nodded my head like I knew exactly what he just said!!! Don’t think that your players don’t do the same thing!!!

Biggy-backing off of this, one of the best ways to check to see if your players understand their assignments is having quick quizzes. You can even do it on the field. You sub in a back up for a starter and call the starter over to you. You pose the question right there. What’s your rule on Buck Sweep to your side? He gives you the correct answer. Your response is, “Good job. Now… explain me to what ‘gap’- ‘down’- ‘backer’ actually means!” If he can’t give you an immediate correct answer, drop him for 5 push ups. It doesn’t need to be 25 up/downs or 200 yards of bear crawls!! 5 push ups makes the point.

Your job as a coach is to be an effective teacher. An effective teacher never takes anything for granted. I love the way the military trains its people. They explain; they show; they do… and do and do and do. If need be, they back up and explain and show again till the soldiers can do it right.

Never assume that a player is listening!!!

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