Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Preparing for the Play offs!

Posted by admin November - 10 - 2009 - Tuesday

A coach from TN just wrote to ask for some help in getting his team ready for the play-offs for the first time…. an interesting subject. He’s concerned that nobody, especially his players, seems very excited about getting the chance to continue their season through the play-offs. My response: they are tired; they lack motivation since they have (in their minds!) achieved all that you set out to accomplish this season and they may be thinking more about winter sports than making a run through the play offs. It’s a case of adult coaches being able to see the brass ring at the end of the tunnel and wanting to “go for it” while 16-17 year old adolescents are just mentally worn out.
So what do you do? I think first, you do not get upset with them and berate them for their lack of enthusiasm. Rather, you sit them down and talk to them about what is happening. There are 2 types of messages that can be sent: 1- the “explanation” (tell them what they are feeling and why they are acting like they are) and 2- the “exhortation” to motivate them into raising their level of activity.
We are very goal oriented… especially competitive people like athletes. Ask the team (or the team leaders) to set some NEW goals for the play offs. Not only what they want to achieve but HOW they plan to achieve them. For example: first goal: win our opening round game. Second goal: make it to the Regional championship. Third: play after Thanksgiving! Then… HOW do we accomplish these? Less turnovers on offense than we’ve had all season. Less third down conversions by our opponents than anyone’s had during the regular season. Play with more enthusiasm than we’ve shown. Better communication on defense.
One last thing: do something “unexpected” for the players! On Thursday, throw out a couple of footballs, choose up teams and play some touch football for 20 minutes. OR…. have the Moms and cheerleaders bring in pizza after practice. Have the coaches prepare and present a skit or a joke time where each coach gets up and tells his favorite (clean!) joke. Do something to create the paradymn shift to get them back in the game mentally.
Good luck and God bless you!

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