Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

The G.O.A.T. Has Retired

Posted by admin January - 11 - 2024 - Thursday Comments Off on The G.O.A.T. Has Retired

It came as a shock to me (as it did to many folks) last night when one of my “die-hard Bama” friends texted me (in shock!) to say that Nick Saban was retiring! Wow! The Bama haters immediately lined up at the door to take one more shot at, undoubtedly, the greatest college football coach in the history of the game. I mean his record earned him that title… right? All of the national championships. All of the 1st round NFL draft choices. All of the Coach of the Year awards. All of it because his won/loss record and the number of championships were the keys to being called The G.O.A.T. I say: “NO!” In my mind, those are not the reasons that Nick Saban should be considered the greatest college football coach of all time. Let me point out a few things that those of you who are coaches reading this should 1- keep in mind about Saban and his success and 2- how you can emulate him… and possibly experience some of the same level of success at your level that he did at his.

First, I want to explore another phase of Saban’s coaching career that I think will shed some light on why he was so successful at the collegiate level. Like several other successful college coaches, Saban decided to take the plunge in 2005 and signed on to coach the Miami Dolphins in the NFL. Saban learned very quickly that the NFL was not suited for his style, and philosophy, of coaching. Why? He was not in control of the roster for one thing. More importantly, these were grown men he was working with every day. Saban is a “molder of men.” These NFL players’ character was set. They weren’t there to learn how to become better men. There were there to earn a paycheck. Saban was a duck out of water.

In Saban’s first year as Alabama’s head coach, the Crimson Tide went 7-6…. with a couple of embarrassing losses. His overall record at Bama was an insane 206-29… a winning percentage of .877! How did he turn things around so fast? Have you heard of “The Process”? It is, in my opinion, the one key factor that sets Nick Saban above and beyond the rest. There’s only one other college coach that I can think of who comes close to be at the pinnacle of the game like Saban… and that is John Wooden of UCLA basketball fame. In many ways, Saban and Wooden’s philosophy of coaching were very similar. It’s teaching (and expecting) certain traits and behaviors that build character that translate onto the playing field. Let me give you a couple of examples:

1- A coach shared with me once that he was “afraid to discipline his players” for fear that they would quit if he got “tough” with them. His program was a mess.

2- There was a team in our area that had a lot of great athletes and won a lot of games but few of their players made it on to college and more than one got arrested and spent time in prison.

3- A coach who took a program that hadn’t had a winning season in 10 years and within 2 seasons had them competing for district, regional and state championships. At one point in his career, they won 14 straight district championships. Why? How? Because that coach had expectations and demanded that his players work to meet those expectations! Like what? Going to class. Being respectful to teachers and administration. Being in the weight room in the off season. Working hard in practice. Sounds like every high school programs objectives, right? The difference was: he “sold” the kids on his philosophy. He was committed to keeping the bar high; but, at the same time, loving and respecting his players. You can coach in fear OR… you can coach in love! And “love” does not mean being soft with your players.

I’ve seen video clips of Saban talking to his team. It’s a no nonsense attitude. He states clearly what his expectation is… and then he adheres to it. THAT, perhaps, is the key. Because “sticking to your guns” in the face of adversity may be one of the toughest things we have to do as coaches. We get bogged down in the minutia and forget that our prime purpose in coaching young men is to help them become hard-working, responsible grown men.

Know what your expectations are. Share them with your team. Let them know that this is the level that they are expected to achieve. That you are there to help them achieve them. Then encourage; teach; exhort; “preach” and love them till they see that you really care about them as people and not just a football player. Saban was a master at it. It related directly to the success his teams experienced on the field year after year. It can impact your teams’ success too.

Be a “Student of the Game!”

Posted by admin January - 6 - 2024 - Saturday Comments Off on Be a “Student of the Game!”

Although I retired from being a high school Head Football Coach in 2015, I have continued to stay active in the game— both on the field and off. I have been a “consultant”, an analyst and have even been an assistant coach for 2 of my former players who took on head coaching jobs at area schools.

Off the field, my greatest joy is helping coaches who approach me with questions about something that I’ve written or recorded (dvd’s) that has found its way onto the internet. These young coaches appreciate my knowledge and experience. And, I appreciate them! Helping others is simply part of my dna as a Christian man.

Just 5 minutes before I decided to write a blog post for the first time in 2-3 years, I was reading about pass blocking schemes and the pin ‘n pull running play. Why? Because I love coaching and I desire to be “on top” of the things that are going on in the sport. It’s my hobby. I don’t where I heard it for the first time– it was years ago– but the following statement has always stuck with me. It is a key to success! Here it is: “be a student of the game.” Never stop learning. Never stop seeking more and better information that will help you grow as a coach and as a person. What’s the old axiom? “When you stop growing, the next step is: you begin to rot!” Ugh!

There is always something that you can devote some study time to to better equip yourself to be the best you can be. Coach John Wooden’s definition of success is so important. “Success is peace of mind… in the knowledge that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of being!” I like having peace of mind. How about you?

Preseason Practice Planning

Posted by admin July - 19 - 2021 - Monday 1 COMMENT

I apologize for not writing as frequently. My family covets your prayers. My sweet wife is battling cancer and I am her primary caregiver. It is a joy to serve her but it takes up a lot of time. She’s napping right now… so I thought I’d share something that’s been on my mind.

As preseason practice will be starting up soon, I hope that those of you who are responsible for putting together practice plans for your team are using the Principles of Learning that (any of you who are teachers) were taught in basic Education classes in college. Just as you make up Lesson Plans for your students, you need to work up “lesson plans” for your players. The same concept is involved and is most effective in promoting learning of the skills and assignments that football players must learn.

There is way too much to share here in one post. Let me focus on a key point that I think will help guide you as your develop your practice plans. It’s a point that several coaches have emailed me about in the last few years. That point involves the installation of plays. How fast? How slow? How many? and When? I think this concept that I’m going to share can help you answer all of those questions!

I will take the Offense as my example. I developed the idea that there are 3 phases to getting an Offensive play to the point where you feel good about using it in a game. Those 3 phases are: 1- INTRODUCTION; 2- INSTALLATION; 3- PERFECTION! Let’s look briefly at each:

1- INTRODUCTION. When you “introduce” something, you are merely presenting the “first appearance” of (in this case) a play. You are simply making the play “known” to the players. I believe that you can make a LOT of “Introductions” to your players in a short amount of time. We used to “cram” all of our Offense into the first 3 days of practice— since, in Virginia, you can’t wear pads anyway. I wanted the players to “become familiar” with a play… not be able to execute even close to the level we expected by the season opener. For some of the kids, this caused their “head to spin!” I would remind them that this is just an introduction. You will get to know these plays better when we start “Installing” them. When we started back on Phase 2, a player can say to himself: “Oh. We were introduced to this play last week!”

2- INSTALLATION. Now you start real “rehearsals.” Introduction was just a “walk through.” Now in Phase 2, coaches really begin to emphasize technique and memorization of assignments or rules. The more reps the better. However… it is imperative that with each repetition that the players execution it properly. If they make a mistake, correct it. If they perform well, praise them! *Principles of Learning!

3- PERFECTION. Nothing will ever be “perfect” but… it’s something to shoot for! We always expected a high level of execution. I shared with a coach recently that one of the keys to our consistent success over a 15-20 year career was that I “expected” them to strive for flawless execution. In Team period, if an assignment was blown, we stopped everything and “fixed” it! There is no sense in moving on to a new play IF the old one isn’t performed well. *Principle of Learning: Immediate Reinforcement. Think about it: you wouldn’t hand a quiz paper back to a student with a grade on it but not tell him which questions he got wrong, would you? I certainly hope not! I’d rather run 10 plays correctly than 20 plays with 1/2 of them executed poorly… and NOT corrected! We emphasized: Know Your Assignment and Execute it FLAWLESSLY! and Protect the Ball At ALL Costs! Rarely in my 33 years as a Head Coach did we have a game where there was more than 1 fumble. Most games, we had no fumbles at all. Why? Because we emphasized it. The closest I came to “punishing” a player was on Monday’s during Individual Period. I was the Running Back coach. If a player fumbled on Friday night, he got to do “Coach J’s Fumble Drill” on Monday— in front of all of his teammates. Let it suffice to say that doing my Fumble Drill was not fun! Challenge your players to strive for flawless execution. When they do, reward them! “If you want a behavior repeated, reward it!” *Principle of Learning!

I hope this helps you as you formulate your preseason practice plans!

Don’t Rush!!!

Posted by admin June - 17 - 2021 - Thursday Comments Off on Don’t Rush!!!

I just looked back on my posts from the last year or so and didn’t see anything on this subject. Sooooo…. here you go! If I have written about it previously, it’s important enough to talk about again!!! My focus will be on learning and the best way to coach during practice. It all gets back to one of my main coaching philosophies: do a FEW things realllllllllly well! The thickness of your playbook does not have a direct correlation to how many wins you’ll have during a season. In fact, it may be the exact opposite.

Perhaps this (bad) philosophy began with high school coaches listening to college coaches explaining how they organize and carry out practice. But, it concerns me that people cannot see that things that college coaches can expect their players to execute does not mean that high school players can do the same thing. The key point is: Don’t Rush!!! Don’t rush through practice!!! Several coaches whom I have talked with recently wanted to go over practice organization and HOW to conduct practice. The “kool aid that too many have drunk” is the philosophy that: race through practice and get as many reps as you can in the time allotted! WHAT? So…. what they are saying is: it doesn’t matter if a player is doing something WRONG…. just keep doing it and he’ll get better! “The more reps will bring about improvement.” Come on man!!! That is both naive and wellllllllll… (I can think of several words like, stupid or foolish or dumb but… I’ll stay civil!) WRONG! It’s kinda like thinking that if you drive your car with a flat tire long enough, the tire will fix itself and re-inflate on its own! Maybe that’s a bad analogy but it’s as wrong as thinking that a player is going to improve if he just keeps practicing the skill enough times!

Here it is in a nut shell: Don’t sacrifice correction for meeting your (time quota). If you have to stop practice to fix something… stop it. Don’t rush!!! Better to run less plays and get them right than to rush through your script and say “well, we got all 20 snaps in during the allotted 20 minute period.” NO!!!! Most high school players need to be shown their mistake; shown how to do it correctly; walk through it doing it correctly and then…. run the play again where they perform the technique correctly… THIS time! Yes, it’s time-consuming. But, unless you have an hour each day to review practice in the film room with each starter (like colleges do) OR… you have position meetings each day where coaches can make corrections (like colleges do) (***and by the way, don’t think that a HS player is going to watch Hudl cut ups on his own and get a thing out of it! Not gonna happen! Waste of time!) then you must STOP practice and make the correction on the practice field!

Remember the old adage: “Practice makes perfect!” Right??? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Practice does NOT make “perfect!” Only PERFECT practice makes perfect!!! “Perfection” in practice requires repetition. However, the reps must be done correctly or a player will never come even close to very good… let alone perfection!!! Slow down… don’t rush!

Keeping the “Main Thing” the main thing!

Posted by admin June - 12 - 2021 - Saturday Comments Off on Keeping the “Main Thing” the main thing!

I have been mentoring a young coach who just got a head coaching job. We’ve been kicking around ideas about Offense and Defense a lot. However, he brought up something the other day that I want to comment on in this post.

He was getting ready to lead his first (full) staff meeting this week. He’s a smart guy so he already had some ideas about what he wanted to cover. I appreciate him because he’s always got a “teachable spirit.” He wanted to know what I thought he should address. I told him that “what you emphasize, you will achieve! Sooooooo… make sure that the first subject you cover with your coaches is the one that you want to resonate with them. “Coach, make sure that you 1) know what your “Main Thing” is! and then 2) continue to KEEP the “Main Thing” the main thing! If it’s important enough to bring up first in your initial meeting… then you need to continue to bring it up.” In Behavioral Psychology terminology, it’s called REINFORCEMENT. I think we all know what “enforcement” means. Keep in mind that the prefix “re” means to repeat the enforcement…. over and over and over and over again…. !!!

I shared with him that MY “Main Thing” was LOYALTY. For the 30 years that I was a HC, the first item of business on my agenda for our initial staff meeting was to review my Staff Expectations. The first (and therefore, most important) expectation was LOYALTY. Loyalty to me as the head coach; loyalty to our team and loyalty to our school and community. Why is loyalty so important? First off, if everyone is not on the same page, an organization is not likely to achieve great results. As the U. of Minnesota coach would say, “Oars in the water and we all row together!” As a HC, you need to know that your staff “has your back.” Being loyal means “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance…” I think it’s an off-shoot of UNITY. I had to dismiss an assistant coach once for disloyalty and another time had to dismiss a player (a starter) for spreading dis-unity. It was amazing how the team “came together” after each of these instances. As the leader, the people who work for you need to know that if you say it… then it will be enforced. (there’s that word again!) I think that the healthy response after I dismissed people was, in part, due to the fact that the team realized that “Coach J wasn’t just “blowing smoke.” I meant what I said.

Then… once you present it as a KEY element in your program’s philosophy, you’ve got to remind people of its importance. It’s why I made a BIG poster each year and posted our Team Goals on it. It hung right over the white board in our locker room. There were many team meetings that included a 1-2 minute rehash of what our goals were. Keep the “Main Thing” the main thing! Repeat… repeat… repeat!

What Are You KNOWN For?

Posted by admin June - 3 - 2021 - Thursday Comments Off on What Are You KNOWN For?

A friend of mine who sells and installs home security systems recently did some work for one of my former assistant coaches… who also happened to be a former player. Of course, they got to talking about our high school’s football program and what it was like to work for “Coach J.” I found it very enlightening to hear what my friend gleaned from their conversation.

He said that “2 things stand out in my mind after having played for and coached with Lew.” First, he was very competitive. The guy just did not like to lose. I think that it was what drove him to have such a strong work ethic.” Never a truer statement! I have been competitive since I was a youth. I did not like to lose at anything… whether it was a “friendly” game of ping pong in a friend’s basement or a championship football game. It was a blessing and a curse; for I also possessed a tremendous fear of failure. That fear ate at me my whole life. But, it motivated me to work as hard as I could to achieve success. With the help of the Lord, I have been able to “build a fire wall” between who I am (a child of God) and what I do (coach football.) Now, I still don’t like to lose but… my reaction to it is much improved!

The other trait that my former colleague stated to my friend was, “Coach J was extremely organized.” That, I think, was one of the keys to our sustained success over the years. I was meticulous about preparing our staff and our players for a practice or game. A good friend once told me to pay attention to details. Little things CAN make a BIG difference. (What a great name for a book!!! ha ha!) I wanted our guys to be properly prepared for any situation that might arise during a game. I love the old adage: “Failing to prepare (properly) is preparing to fail!” How true.

The last thing I would add is a trait that kept me going when times got tough. Though our won-loss record my last 23 years as a head coach was very good, the first 5 years were, at best, average. Then once we started winning more games than we lost…. there were teams at the top that we still couldn’t compete against. It was only because of perseverance that I was able to “stick with it” and become an overcomer. I learned this from a Bible lesson that I heard at an Fellowship of Christian Athletes event. The coach talked about how often, in the New Testament, that we are encouraged to persevere. My life verse became Philippians 3:14. It says… “PRESS ON towards the goal of the higher calling. “Press on!” What’s the little word in: PRESSURE? See it? Yep… press. If something is worth achieving, there is going to be pressure brought to bear. If you want to achieve that goal, you will have to press on. Most people lack the self-discipline and fortitude to see something through to the end. Don’t let the “pressure” stop you! Press on towards your goal!

“Earning” That Reward!

Posted by admin May - 25 - 2021 - Tuesday Comments Off on “Earning” That Reward!

Recently, I was talking with a coach about the benefits of instituting a helmet award sticker system for his program. He was very interested… seemingly unaware of some of the Principles of Conditioning that are taught in most Introductory Psychology classes. If YOU don’t know these principles, I encourage you to take some time to study them. It is a valuable lesson in effectively leading your program.

Obviously, each player you coach has a different “hot button.” You have to learn what that hot button is to effectively motivate him. However, there are some universal principles of motivation that 99.9% of people always respond to in a similar fashion. One of those principles involves “rewarding behavior.” Our culture, in my opinion, has failed to observe this principle and has, therefore, raised a generation whose sole concern is feeling that they are entitled to something— even if they didn’t earn it. It’s the issue of “everybody gets a trophy!” If everybody gets a trophy (for just showing up!) then where is the motivation to strive to achieve one’s maximum???

People love recognition. I’ll admit: it was a factor that got me interested in sports at an early age. I knew that athletes were people whom others looked up to. When you did well, you got your name announced over the PA system or, even better, got your name in the newspaper! You tie that in with a tremendous “competitive spirit” (which I credit my dad giving me) and you’ve got a player who drives himself to get recognized for his achievements. This is one of the positive benefits of a helmet sticker REWARD system! Players get recognition for outstanding play or great effort. That in itself is a reason to invest in buying a boat load of helmet stickers.

The other relates to a Principle of Conditioning that BF Skinner proved years ago. It’s pretty simple… but profound. It goes: “If you want a behavior REPEATED… REWARD it!” “If you want to extinguish a behavior, IGNORE it!” Both sides of the same coin. I want to deal with the first one… cuz I’ve always been a big advocate of rewarding good behavior? Why? Cuz… if a person does something that you like and you recognize what he/she did with some type of reward, it’s very likely that they will repeat it. Again… why? So they can earn the reward again!!! When it was time to hand out stickers (check out my book! We called it the Ceremony.), I made the biggest deal out of presenting the helmet sticker for GREAT EFFORT during the game! I wanted the players to know that EFFORT will always be recognized and rewarded!!! How? With a special helmet sticker that is only given for effort!!!

As I was talking with this coach, he became very enthusiastic about implementing the helmet award sticker system. His next comment afforded me one more learning experience for him. He exclaimed, “I’ve got to buy enough stickers to have them for the JV and the Middle School players, too!” My response? “NO! You do NOT want to buy stickers for the younger teams, Coach!” “Huh?” he replied!

I shared with him, “you need some things that ONLY the Varsity team gets to have… or do! You want those younger kids to want to get to the Varsity team so they can enjoy the same benefits that the older guys get.” Helmet stickers is one example of this. Our JV always got the “hand-me-down” game uniforms. They were nice and in good shape… just the old ones. The Varsity got the new uni’s! The Varsity got a nice catered pre-game meal. The JV scrambled to get a sandwich and some chips. All of this falls right back into the category of “everybody gets a trophy.” Part of building a successful program is to keep players interested in playing— all the way to their Senior year. It’s the reason why I brought the best 10 graders up to the Varsity. My “rule of thumb” was: if you started on the JV (we did not have a Freshman team, per se) as a Freshman, you have accomplished all we want from the JV team. It’s time to move up and face a new challenge. Play on the Varsity as a Sophomore. I knew that this would put our JV team at a disadvantage on game night. We were playing mostly Freshmen while some schools actually dropped down Juniors to play in the JV game! Our JV teams did not have great won-loss records over the years. But our Varsity was winning 85% of our games during that same period. Kids didn’t want to stay and be a “JV Super Star!” They wanted to get to the Varsity. All of this was part of my over-all plan to build a consistently successful Varsity football program. It will work for you too!

You Are NEVER “Just a ….”

Posted by admin May - 17 - 2021 - Monday Comments Off on You Are NEVER “Just a ….”

Our church is very fortunate to have 4 or 5 really outstanding preacher/teachers. The message from our Campus Pastor yesterday was outstanding. Like any good message, it realllllllllllllly got me thinking about a number of things. Two points that he made, though, stood out to me. The first is the title of this post. It spoke to me about the situation for those who find themselves in a subordinate role in their organization. For football coaches, it’s the role of an assistant coach whose sole responsibility, for example, is coaching nothing more than a position. For someone in the business world, it’s the employee who looks at his/her job and sees him/herself at “the bottom of the barrel” in the company. Here’s what you need to know: You are NEVER “just a...” and you can fill in the blank! You are neverjust a… defensive back coach.” You are never... “just a running back coach.” You are never... “just a JV coach.” At the office, you are NEVERjust an… account manager.” You are neverjust a… sales clerk.” EVERY position in an organization is critical to the overall success of that organization.

In his message, our pastor compared his job as a Teaching Pastor to the folks who clean the rest rooms each week. He shared how he could deliver a great message but…. if a visitor walked into the rest room before service and it smelled bad or the toilets weren’t clean, it could be the most powerful message ever delivered…. it wouldn’t matter! That visitor is very unlikely to return! In football, a punt gets blocked late in the game because the Punt Team Coach didn’t spend the time going over the key points of protection schemes. Why? Cuz he is “just the… Punt Team Coach.” See? Each position is critical to the organization’s overall success. If you’re thinking that… “I’m just the O Line coach.” Your attitude is going to affect your performance! You don’t stay focused during practice; thus, your linemen don’t either. On Friday night, when your QB gets sacked 5 or 6 times because of pass blocking errors… whose fault is it?!! It’s pretty obvious to me. You may not see your job as being very important until….. it’s time for you (or your people) to “step up.” Then, everyone will see that you were NEVER “just a ……” Do you see what I’m talking about here?

Your attitude means everything! hummmmm??? I just thought about the guy in the Army who’s assigned to do nothing more than pack the parachutes for his regiment. When a parachute fails to open during the jump, it becomes quite apparent how important his job is! His attitude stunk; thus, his work performance suffered. In this case, it cost lives! What you do matters! Take pride in what you’re assigned. Give it your best.

I love what our pastor closed with yesterday: “desire trumps willingness.” It’s great that you are willing to take on a job. However, that is often not going to produce the best results! You need the desire (the right attitude) that you are going to “do your best to become the best that you are capable of being.” That is Coach John Wooden’s definition of success.

Want to be successful? Adopt Coach Wooden’s philosophy. It will carry you far in life!

Make Your Special Teams “Special”

Posted by admin May - 11 - 2021 - Tuesday Comments Off on Make Your Special Teams “Special”

This is about as close as I’ll get to talking “X’s and O’s” on this site.

After watching the state championship games in Virginia last week, it became obvious to me that… even at THAT level, some coaches did not properly prepare their players on their kicking teams. It cost them. One team, for example, had the defending state champs on the ropes late in the 4th quarter. They were held deep in their own territory and had to punt. Their punter, in his own end zone, fielded a low snap. Rather than kick/throw/run the ball out of the back of the end zone, he tried to scoop up the ball; lost control and it rolled to his side. The defending state champs’ punt return team fell on it— 6 points! Knocking it out of the back of the end zone would’ve only cost them 2. They lost by 5 points!

Another team (foolishly) kicked deep to one of the fastest players in the state of Virginia. Guess what? 86 yard kickoff return TD! In another game, the team “popped up” the kickoff. It came down short and to the side. The player on the return team stood there and watched it bounce. (Probably thought you play it like a punt— NOT a “free” kick!) The kicking team recovered the “free” kick on the 33 and went in to take the lead in the game! Time and again, critical errors in the kicking game led to major momentum shifts in a state championship game. These happen every week of the season.

It was pounded into my head when I was a player that “the kicking game is 1/3 of the game! Spend the time necessary to execute your Special Teams as efficiently as you do your Offense and Defense.” It paid off for us many times during my 43 year coaching career. One of my favorites was actually when I was still an assistant coach. It was late in the first half of a hard-fought game against a very well-coached team. We had stopped them deep in their own territory with less than a minute left in the half. They were going to have to punt out of their own end zone. As our deep returner ran onto the field, I said, “Mike. Signal a fair catch no matter how much yardage you think you can get! OK?” He did as I asked and fair caught the punt on their 32 yard line. I then told our QB to go tell the ref that “we want a free kick on goal.” He looked at me funny but I said, “Go! Go tell him.” Fortunately, the referee knew the rules and said “Ok. Bring out your kicking team.” The QB also happened to be our place kicker. I told him to put his block/tee down on the 32 and get Mike, the Returner, to hold it on the block. “Put the rest of the guys ON the 32 but off to the side.” We got lined up and the ref made the opposing defense line up 10 yards back! Huh? They had no idea what was going on. But they backed up to the 22 and waited. As our kicker approached the ball, several of their guys “rushed” the kick. Flag! He missed the field goal attempt (yep!) wide right. However, the flag was for them being Off-side! They crossed the 22 before the ball was kicked. They marked it up 5 yards and everyone reset. This time they didn’t move and, yes, he made the kick. As time ran out and we headed to the locker room, I saw the opposing coach confront the officials. He was pretty upset because we had just taken the lead on something he’d never seen (nor knew about) in a game before. When we came back out 15 minutes later, he was still conversing with the officials! It threw them completely off their game in the second half and we ended up beating them. I bet that YOU didn’t know that you can attempt a field goal after a fair catch, did you?

There are so many funky rules still in the Rule Book that relate to the kicking game. I had a long-time official tell me that he believed that those rules were “left over” from the early days of football when the “foot” was still a BIG part of the game! I made it a point to study those rules and we spent a lot of time in preseason pounding those rules into our players’ heads. We reaped the benefit numerous times.

By studying the kicking game, I initiated some rather unorthodox ways to execute our kicking teams. A couple of examples are: 1) We NEVER kicked off deep down the middle. It’s a recipe for disaster! We didn’t onside kick; but we did have a number of different “pop up” and “hot grounders” that we used. 2) Use your back-up QB as your Long Snapper! He simply “throws a pass” between his legs. It’s accurate and should have pretty good speed on it. Finally, have ONE kick off return and never change. The one we installed every year provided us with several kick off returns for TD’s and numerous returns to midfield. It was a weapon that turned momentum and/or won a game for us over the years.

I put together a dvd that Championship Productions distributes for me. It has all of this (and more) information on it. Check it out. And…. study your Rule Book in the offseason and learn what these crazy rules in the kicking game are… so they can help you win a game!

To Go OR… Not To Go?!

Posted by admin May - 4 - 2021 - Tuesday Comments Off on To Go OR… Not To Go?!

Interestingly, within the last few days I have had 2 young head coaches call me seeking advice… about the same subject! It seems that both of them had recently been hired by their respective school as the new head football coach. They were both happy where they were. However… head coaching jobs have just come open in their area of the country! Jobs that they are both interested in applying for. Thus the dilemma! “To go or not to go?” (as Bill Shakespeare would write) “THAT is the question!!!”

Whenever I’m faced with a decision that carries as much import as this would, I do 3 things. First, I pray! Seeking God’s wisdom is important to me. Second, at the same time, I talk to my wife. She is the one with the Gift of wisdom in our household. I want to know what she thinks. I will also talk with others with whom I am close and respect their opinion. This is the “information gathering” phase. Finally, I am going to do a “Priority Check.” I did this with a young man last night on the phone.

He explained how he was torn between applying for this job that holds a lot of potential; but, at the same time, he felt a sense of obligation to the school he was currently at. “What do I do, Coach J? Help!” So we did a priority check! I asked him to state his TOP 3 priorities in life to me. (I might encourage any of you reading to do the same thing right now! And… it should NOT be difficult to come up with those 3. IF… it is a problem to think about what they are, you have bigger issues than just deciding what offense you should run this fall!!!!!!!!) Coach stated: “Family, God and the kids I coach.” Good choices and… good job of prioritizing the right things… in the right order!!!

“So,” I said. “Let’s look at your first/top priority. Which job allows that (top) priority to remain your top priority??? (See, that is the problem. We say that “such and such” is my top priority but… we fail to give it the time and effort that it deserves. You may say that family is most important. How are you showing that?)

He replied, “The XYZ High School is much closer to home. I’d be able to see my family a lot more.” I remained silent; waiting for that to sink in. A few seconds later he said, “Say no more, Coach J. I see clearly now— for the first time in a while. I know what I have to do.” He clarified his values and determined, based on his values/priorities, how he would keep them in order. Later last night, I received an email from the school system offering the vacant head coaching position. It was to write up a recommendation for the young man. He got his priorities straight and knew what was best for him and his family— his TOP priority.

When you need help with a decision, always stop and look at what/who you value in your life. Will you be able to devote the time and effort that the “top priority” deserves? If not, you’re probably wise to choose the alternative that does!