Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Player Goal-planning Meetings

Posted by admin March - 2 - 2020 - Monday

So many times coaches get so focused on their off-season weight-lifting programs (“we gotta get our guys bigger, faster and stronger!”) that they forget the importance of spending time with each individual player.

I was fortunate to be in the Guidance department while I was a Head Coach. It gave me more “time freedom” than most classroom teachers had… freedom to call players to my office during the day. Most of the time, though, I met with them before school or during their lunch. So…. that’s no excuse for you not to meet with each individual player during the off-season!

In my book, 101 Little Things…, there is a chapter on off-season activities. One of the most important activities is this 2-part Goal-planning session that I did with every veteran player. During the initial meeting, I would present the goal-planning sheet to the player and take the time to clearly explain what each question asked. I didn’t do this the first year or so and some of the answers I got were so “out there” that I realized that: 1- kids don’t do this type of exercise very often and 2- reviewing each question would help them formulate clear answers. I’d then set a time to return with the goal-planning sheet completed and tell them that we would discuss his answers when we meet again. Usually, a week was more than enough time for the player to complete his answers.

When we met the second time, I took the sheet from him and began to discuss his answers. It’s important to note that not all of the questions dealt with football. I wanted to know things like his academic goals and social/family goals. One of the most important questions I asked them was “Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?” and… “Where do you see yourself 25 years from now?” The first one was usually answered with “playing in the NFL!” (Realistic goal or not… it’s a dream for most kids, isn’t it??!!!) The “25 years from now” question, though, stumped a lot of them! It required thinking beyond “football!” Now they had to consider what they really wanted from life. It was/is a great vehicle for getting kids to share their hopes and dreams with you. I could turn it into a “guidance” session.

These questions always created some great discussion. It helped create the impression that I cared about them as more than just football players. I think that this is very important. I wanted my players to know that what they accomplished OFF the field was just as important to me as what they achieved ON the field. It has created relationships with former players that still thrive today!

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