Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

“Unity! Pride!! TOTAL Effort!!!”

Posted by admin September - 21 - 2016 - Wednesday

I am reminded each time I see young people today about how our culture is “trying” to teach our youth to just be average. How to be apathetic. How to be fearful. But then I get around athletes (football players, anyway) and I am once again reminded of the impact that athletics CAN (not always does!) have on building character and teaching young men that striving for excellence in ALL that they do is honorable and the best way to conduct their lives.

I spoke to the team at the public school where I coached for 34 years last Thursday. I felt like they needed to hear from an “outsider” about how they need to continue to strive for excellence… though they had lost their first 2 games. I told them that I came there to accomplish 2 things: 1- to show support for their head coach and 2- to encourage them. I talked to them about the foundation of the program when I was the head coach. Those cornerstones were: Unity. Pride. and TOTAL Effort.

No organization is going to succeed if they are lacking in unity. If they’re more worried about themselves (their playing time; their number of carries; their number of tackles) than the team, they are sure to keep on losing. But… if they will adopt the philosophy (which I got from Bo Schembechler when he was the HC at the U. of Michigan) of “BIG Team. Little Me,” they would see a change in their team’s performance.

I told them that they need to have pride. Not arrogance but a humble pride in knowing that they worked very hard to prepare for this season and NOW it was time to reap the benefits. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished… just like an artist does after creating a work of art.

Finally, they shouldn’t ever mistake “activity for achievement.” IF… they will play unified. IF… they will carry themselves with a high degree of self-respect, then… they will play hard EVERY play! They won’t just go out and go through the motions but they will give a TOTAL effort on every play.

If they will do that, they will see changes. Not just in their won-loss record (though they probably will!), but in how they feel about their teammates and coaches… and football in general. It’ll be fun again— instead of a chore!

The coach told me at church on Sunday that it was one of the most gratifying experiences he’d had as a football coach. The kids played hard; they played together and there was a synergy that can only be found in team sports.

And, by the way, they won!!!

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