Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program


Posted by admin October - 30 - 2018 - Tuesday

For a lot of you out there, your regular season is coming to a close. For those of you going on to the play-offs: Good luck and God bless you!

Whether your season has just ended or you’ll be wrapping up things in a week or so, there are a couple of things that need to go on your “to do” list that you might need to consider adding. The one I want to mention today is in my book, 101 Little Things, but it’s worth highlighting here. Why? Cuz it literally changed the program that I headed up for 22 years. It can change things for you too. That single event was our Senior Post-season (gloves off; no holds barred!) Evaluation Meeting.

Within 2 weeks of our season ending, I would call in the Seniors. At one point, I even took them out for pizza. I had 1 question for them and I prefaced it by saying this, “You guys are done. Your football career at WBHS is over. So anything you share with me tonight will have no effect on your playing time next year. You’ll be gone! Sooooooo… be as honest and forthright as you can. OK? Here’s my question: What do I need to do to be a better leader for this football team? What can I improve upon?” I gave them a piece of paper and a pen and let them write things down for 2-3 minutes… then we began.

You’d be amazed at how insightful these guys can be. Yes, I got some silly suggestions. I got some answers that were impossible to implement. But, if you have established a good relationship with your players and… you are willing to receive some constructive criticism, you might get a gem that’s a “program changer!” Here are a couple that our seniors shared with me at different times during my career:

Early on, when I first instituted this meeting, I was still searching for answers. It took 5 years to “turn around” our program. It had fallen to mediocrity and it took some changes on my part to get us over the hump. At one of our first meetings one of the seniors kinda gulped and shyly said, “Coach J… don’t get me wrong but, you’re too nice!” What?! I sat there dumbfounded. “Please explain,” I said. He had a little more confidence now and stated, “You’re just too nice. You need to be tougher on us. We’re football players. You can’t let us get away with some of the stuff you overlook.” It hit me like a ton of bricks! Why? Cuz he was right! I wasn’t showing tough love; I was extending soft love. We needed more discipline. I needed to hold kids to a higher standard. That off-season I began reading about many different successful coaches programs and how they conducted them. It changed everything for our program. I did not become a martinet but I did demand more from the players (and coaches) than I had before. It paid dividends starting that next year.

Later on, at another meeting, I learned why I always had that nagging sense that our players were not putting out in practice as much as I wanted them to. No matter how hard I pushed, it always seemed like our team was hitting on 7 cylinders instead of 8. I got my solution from a senior. He told me that I needed to move Conditioning period to somewhere on the practice schedule other than at the end. I asked why? “Cuz, guys are holding back during practice because they know you’re going to run us hard at the END!” BOOM! Another lightning bolt hit home. I saw exactly what he was talking about. The next year I revamped the practice to look something like this: 1- Team Flex. 2- Kicking Game. 3- Conditioning! 4- 5 minute Water and Rest Break! The results were dramatic from day 1! Till I retired, that’s how practices started.

Oh, I always communicated to the team WHY we were doing it this way. It is so very important to explain things to your players. Tell them what you’re going to do and WHY you’re doing it. It’s good to be up front with them. It builds trust and respect.

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