Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Off-season Work-outs Begin!

Posted by admin January - 13 - 2011 - Thursday

We held our first off-season work-out session yesterday. It was 38 degrees and the wind was blowing about 15 MPH… but the kids were there! It was a nice turn-out. There are some adjustments that I have to make coming from a large, AAA public school with 2400 students to a private school with only 400-500. One change is that most of the boys play multiple sports. I think that’s great and I encourage it! It helps the school’s other athletic programs but, more importantly, it means that the guys are competing all year round. I told them that, for example, there’s nothing like standing at that free throw line with 2 seconds left in the game and it’s all on you! Situations like that will help us next fall when we are in a close game.

The other mental adjustment for me is just the sheer number of athletes who will be participating. The coaches who are “hold overs” from the previous staff that I hired (all good men) remarked about how pleased they were with the turn out! “OK,” I said… “I’m glad you think so.” It’s a real paradigm shift for me.

I’ve talked with a few coaching friends who coach at small schools to get their perspective on having 25 on the team instead of 60. Yes, depth is a problem but I found myself enjoying the chance to really focus on a few kids— working with them and knowing that there aren’t 50 others just standing around. With small numbers, you can give each player personal attention.

We flexed then did some agility work: cone drills and the running ropes. I was impressed with their ability to pick things up quickly. Our high intelligence level is going to be a major advantage for us! Then we did some form running. We talked about how you can improve your speed with proper running mechanics. Again, after 10 minutes we had everybody up on the balls of their feet and pumping those shoulders.

Then we broke up into groups and threw the ball around some while the linemen went down to the other end and worked on stance and footwork. Just their ability to run good routes and catch the ball impressed me. Show these kids something one time and they’ve “got” it! I was pleased with the 2 QB candidates that I was working with. By the end of the 20 minute session, we had both of them showing pretty solid footwork and their throwing mechanics looked good.

We closed with a little “Grind Time”— to test their mental toughness! Some of you have written to ask about how to build toughness in kids. My response is that you build physical toughness by building mental toughness first. You put your players in situations where they have to “tough it out” and challenge them to persevere. The drill we did I learned from my Strength Coach here at the middle school I am retiring from. He calls them “Count Downs.” You get everyone in a circle with the coaches in the middle. Everyone’s on the ground facing inward in a push up position. On the command, everyone moves to the “up” position. We started at “10” for our Count Down thhis week. I called out “Down!” and they lowered themselves (full push up) and pushed back up while shouting (and it needs to be loud! and everyone has to call it out… or, you do it again!— DISCIPLINE!) They did their 10 push ups then I told them to flip over and we did 10 Crunchie/sit ups. Then they flip back over and we did 9 push ups… and 9 sit ups. Then 8 push ups and 8 sit up— all rapidly with no rest. Again, demaning that everyone do them correctly (especially when they start getting fatigued!— and shout out the number.)

When we finished “6” I told them it was “half time” and gave them a 30 second rest. Some of the younger kids really appreciated that. Then off we went again, counting down: “5”; “4”; and so on to “1”. On “1”, they went to the “Up” push up position and there they remained for about 30 seconds!!! The coaches were encouraging them to “stay up!”; “fight the pain!”; “don’t give up!” Working on developing discipline is building that toughness.. the attitude that: “I CAN do this!” We then pumped off the 1 push up, flipped over and did our 1 sit up and I called them up and congratulated them on a job well done.

It was a very good first day! I’m proud to be a Saint!

One Response to “Off-season Work-outs Begin!”

  1. Ray Lowe says:


    Congratulations on the new job. I love what you are doing with kids…. it is something I hope to try with my team this year. Looking forward to more.