Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Sooooo… now you’ve got the HC job!

Posted by admin January - 7 - 2010 - Thursday

What’s next?? You’ve been hired as the new Head Coach. It’s not a great situation but the program is now yours and you want to do the best job you can to get things turned around. A coach just posed this hypothetical situation and asked: “What are the first 5 things that you would do?”

This is assuming that the hire is a done deal and you have been given free rein to run the football program the way you want with NO interference from the AD, Principal or Boosters’ Club President! I might add: if this hasn’t been addressed before you accept a new HC position, you MUST discuss it. If your new Principal says that you will not have the final say so on who you fire and who you hire for your coaching staff, you better notice that BIG red flag flying over the building!!! cuz… you’ve got problems already! It’s OK that you share what’s going on with your administrators (they ARE your bosses!) but if they don’t trust you enough to let you run your program as you see fit, I would be very cautious about accepting that position. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as they say!

OK… here’s what I would recommend that you do, first 5 things, when you take over as a new HC:
1- Have a team meeting with the veterans (from youngest involved in your program, freshmen, to your varsity veterans. And, make sure that they are ALL there. If someone misses, go find him first thing the next morning and let him know that you missed him! That he is important enough that you came and found him individually. Don’t ask him “why” he missed, just show him that he is needed. Set up a time when you can meet individually because you have some things for him to fill out and you want to share with him what you have in store for the team.

In the meeting, you want to distribute an Information Sheet (name, address, phone no., class schedule, position you played— general stuff) and have them fill it out right there. Bring some pens cuz most of them won’t bring one!!! Collect them and hand out a Goal Planning Sheet (you can find a copy of mine in my book!) Tell them that you will be meeting with each of them in the next 2 weeks to go over these goals so don’t lose them!

Finally, and you can do this as a question on the Info Sheet, ask for the names of 3 guys who are walking the halls who they would recommend that you talk to about coming out for football. Be sure to make them understand that it’s THEIR team and if they want to be good, then we need the best athletes we can find. Also stress that “we want you to be ‘picky’— not just anybody can play for this team! Make wise choices!” You’re building a foundation of high expectations in their minds from the get go!

2- Interview Coaches. Start with the current staff and find out who’s interested in being considered as a member of your NEW staff. Ask them to submit a one page resume and a paragraph or two on “what is your coaching philosophy?” Then make appointment times for each individual who submits the paper work to meet with them individually. The coach who posed this question asked about keeping guys on from the previous staff who didn’t show themselves to be “good coaches.” But… it was based on the previous team’s offensive and defensive productivity. I don’t think that this is a valid factor in whether he is a “good” coach or not. If the talent level was down, he may have been coaching his backside off but there’s still not enough stallions in the barn to win the race!

What I’d recommend is: look at their coaching philsophy statement. When you meet with them, ask them to verbalize it to you. That way, you’ll find out if he really means it or he was just copying something from a book to make himself look good! But…. in my mind, coaching philosophy is not nearly as coaching style.
This is the difference between what you think and what you DO!! How does a guy treat kids? Is he a “yeller?” Does he think it’s OK to use curse words or abusive language? As the HC, it’s your job to be sure that your assistants are well versed in WHAT you want taught. How it’s taught is the individual coach’s style. That, to me, is the KEY! Once you have determined who you want to hire, you need to start placing them in the individual positions. I would recommend that you try very hard to hire an assistant who will run your off season weight lifting and speed training program for you.

3- 2nd Player Meeting (and be sure that your whole staff is in attendance!) with ALL interested athletes. Announce when the Weight Room will open. Talk more about your philosophy and some goals that you have for the program. Talk positively. Get the kids excited. Let them know that you have high expectations for them. That, together, we are going to get it done!

4- Get your Lifting program started as soon as you can get it organized and off the ground. This is also covered in my book. You will probably have to continue to “recruit” the halls to get kids out. Make it worth their while to be there!

5- Get your X’s and O’s finalized and start having monthly staff meetings in the spring. Start taking care of the “Little Things”. Do you have both of your pre season scrimmages. Does your AD set up a time for physicals to be given at your school in the summer? Are there 7 on 7 Tournaments you can sign up for in your area? Is there a college that has a Team Camp that you can start getting the kids interested in attending together.

It’s all about “team building.” It will require all of your focus and energy and still practice hasn’t even started! Stay on top of your players grades. Someone may have to go to summer school to get eligible… that’s YOUR job to be sure that the player knows.

It’s also all about changing the climate around your school. If you know anything about meterology, you know that when a weather front settles in (we’ve had 2 bad Nor’eastern storms here this Fall and early Winter in Tidewater Virginia… and now a cold front!), the only way to change that “cold front” is with a massive change in the atmospheric conditions. Without a massive movement of air, the temperature won’t change. YOU have to be that massive warm front!!! You will set the tone for changing people’s minds about football at your school. It might take a couple of years; but, given time and the right people (coaches, administrators and players) it can get done.

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