Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program


Posted by admin April - 18 - 2018 - Wednesday

I was honored to have been asked to speak at the inaugural 757 Football Coaches Symposium last Friday. A local assistant coach saw the need to bring together as many high school football coaches (head and assistants) as possible to 1) discuss the factors that successful coaches in our area have used during their careers that have propelled their programs to the top and 2) try to develop a “spirit of unity and cooperation” among the coaches in our area.

Having coached in this area since 1971, I have seen a lot of coaches come and go. Many more “go” than stay! Coaching high school football in our area is not a financially lucrative proposition. In fact, I’ve heard many coaches say over the years that “we do not do it for the money!” in Tidewater (757) Virginia.

What I gleaned from the other speakers on the docket was, to me, not revolutionary but… it seemed to be a common theme. That point was: If you’re not “in it for the kids” then you’re in the wrong profession!

What does that mean… being “in it for the kids?”

First and foremost, it means setting aside your own ego and focusing on what’s best for your players. Their needs must take priority over your own. What are some of those “needs” that your players have?

1) The need for discipline. I’m not talking about punishment; I’m talking about providing structure and guidance. Setting down rules of conduct and then expecting your players to follow them.

2) Secondly, the need for confirmation or… affirmation. This encompasses the need for love, acceptance and the knowledge that people care about you. We need to “confirm” in our players’ minds that they are appreciated and, yes, loved!

3) Finally, I’d say that coaches need to set an example for our players. Positive role models (especially male role models for teenage boys) are often lacking at home. The coach has to provide that role— NOT singers, actors or athletes. Players are watching you. I know this because we used to have “skit day” during pre-season Camp. We allowed the players to put on skits about “A Day in the Life of a Bruin Football Player.” The player assigned to the role of “Coach” in the skit was uncanny in how he mimicked that coach! Get “caught in the act” of doing things that promote maturity, responsibility and self-control. Set an example that will help your players become a successful husband, dad and worker in their adult life.

I hope that the 100 or so coaches who attended the Symposium walked away with some of the wisdom imparted by the coaches who spoke. There was some reallllllllly good information presented. Unfortunately, I did not see much (if any) note-taking by those in attendance and the “body language” was such that I left sensing that those in attendance did not allow themselves to be as impacted as they could have.

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