Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for June, 2010

“…and on the 7th day, He rested.”

Posted by admin June - 29 - 2010 - Tuesday Comments Off on “…and on the 7th day, He rested.”

I’m on vacation this week on the Outer Banks of NC—- one of God’s most beautiful places He ever created!
I did bring my laptop with me just to stay in touch with the world, though.

I received an email from a coaching colleague who told me about a poster he saw in Dick’s Sporting Goods store yesterday. He was pretty sure that it was my Western Branch Bruins captured in action on the poster. It has printed across the top: “In the Zone 2010.” If you see it in a Dick’s in your area, will you let me know, please. I have no idea how Dick’s got the photo. But, you get to see (a little anyway!) of our Wing T in action. Big number 75 you see blocking is Brandon Carr. He is on scholarship at Old Dominion… great kid!

What I want to comment about is the response that I received from this coach when I asked him if he was going to take a little time off this summer before the pre-season practice ritual begins. His response troubled me. He related how much (football) work he had to do before practice began. He mentioned that he might have a little time available in a couple of weeks. NOT good!

Guys… I reminded him that even God took the 7th day of creation off for rest! You guys need to do that too! Recharge your battery; devote some time to your family…. get away from it for a week. You’ll find yourself better able to take on the rigors of the season.

Bury the Past!

Posted by admin June - 23 - 2010 - Wednesday Comments Off on Bury the Past!

I had a coach email me about a little different “take” that he’s using based on my “Midnight Golddiggers” ceremony that is listed as a Little Thing in my book! I want to share it with you here.

He is just taking over a HS program that has been “down” for a number of years. Things have been going well in the off-season but it’s always a challenge to get attitudes totally changed and establish a new atmosphere of “winning.”

What they did at the close of their last off-season workout was, in my estimation, pure genius!

He had the Woodworking teacher construct a wooden cross and a small wooden “coffin.” He dug a hole near his practice field and set the little coffin down in it. At the conclusion of his last workout, he gathered the team around it. He talked about “burying the past.” “Burying negative attitudes and beliefs.” He talked about pride and respect and effort…. qualities that will be needed if the program is going to return to prominence.

He asked… no, he challenged!, each player to “get aboard” with this new perspective. If they wanted to accept the challenge, he asked each of them to grab handfuls of dirt and walk by the coffin and dump the dirt on the “coffin of past negativity” and go to the other side. He said that it was really amazing that it took all of the players (including the freshmen) to cover over the coffin. He felt that this was important because he had been noting some minor “hazing” of the 9th graders. He was able to point out at the conclusion of the ceremony that it took ALL of the players contributing to bury the coffin. The same is true on the practice field and in the locker room… everyone contributes! Treat everyone teammate with respect.

I mentioned to him in a subsequent email that if he was seeing some minor hazing in front of him, he could expect that there is more going on out in the community and that he better let his players know that there is a “0 Tolerance” on hazing. This led to something that I think every HC should consider. You need to assign one of your assistant coaches to lead the conditioning AND hand out “punishment period” after practice if someone needs to run extra for some infraction.

Then…. if it ever becomes necessary, the HC would stay out and do the punishment period for serious offenses. The kids will come to realize that if the HC stays out to do the punishment period, it means real trouble. Nobdy should want to have to face you. At one time, I would meet an offending player on Saturday morning at 6:30 am in the stadium. They got to run the “Bruin Mile” while I supervised. That is a full set of stadium steps then down and onto the track where they run the other 3/4’s of the 400 meters. Then up and down the steps a second time and around the track… for a total of 4 times. Closely monitor each athlete as far as hydration and fatigue but for a well-conditioned high school athlete, this is within reason of “suffering the consequences” for a rule infraction.

I found, over the years, that taking away playing time was a more effective punishment than extra running. You can check out our Player Policy sheet in my book for our discipline policies. But, there are times that extra conditioning makes a strong point too. But, I caution you: stay within reason! Lawsuits happen when parents view your punishment as abusive. If it is spelled out in your Player Policies and parents have heard it, read it and signed it… your policies are out there in the public for everyone to be aware of. You are less likely to have someone challenge your policies if you have stated them and then follow them.

Great Expectations

Posted by admin June - 14 - 2010 - Monday Comments Off on Great Expectations

I’m sure you’ve heard: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

When David went up against Goliath, he didn’t have the rank, equipment nor training… but he had the winning attitude! So great was his level of expectation that he “ran quickly toward the battle line to meet Goliath” says the Bible in the Book of 1st Samuel. While Saul and his soldiers were hiding, David was running to meet the challenge. How’s that for great expectations?! From my perspective as a Christian, I’m not talking aobut faith in my own ability, but in “Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

Martin Seligman, professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, did some research on a major life insurance company and found that sales people who expected to succeed sold twice as much as those who didn’t. Researchers have discovered that there’s a greater correlation between self-confidence and achievement than there is between IQ and achievement.

Know what? The God Who lives within us is limited by one thing only: our inability or unwillingness to believe in ourselves. The more you believe in yourself, the more you’ll be able to accomplish. And if you keep believing and expecting, you’ll find yourself someday doing what you once thought was impossible.

I went through my first 5 years as a head coach hoping and waiting and planning and believing till we got “over the hump” and consistently won 6, 7 or 8 games a year. Then it was even more frustrating because it was another 5 years before we hit the jackpot and made the play-offs. People were calling us the “best NON-playoff team in the region!” But I kept expecting good things to happen. I wouldn’t let anyone take away my dream.

It’s said that if Michelangelo had consulted his critics or gave in to his doubts, he’d have painted the floor of the Sistine Chapel instead of the ceiling!!! … and his work wouldn’t be around for us to admire. The truth is: great results begin with great expectations!

New DVD’s are Out!

Posted by admin June - 11 - 2010 - Friday Comments Off on New DVD’s are Out!

Coaches: Several of you have written to ask when the new project I’m doing with Championship Productions will be released.

I wanted to let you know that it is now posted in their on-line catalog. It is entitled “The Delaware Wing T Series.” It is a 4 DVD set on getting back to the basics!

It is an in-depth look at the “traditional” U. of Delaware Wing T system of offense (20, 80 and 30 series only… with drop back passes included) that I learned with Tubby Raymond and his staff over a 19 year period. Coaches were asking for a resource that covers just the traditional Del. Wing T offense… so here it is.

If you will click on the “Championship Productions” button on my home page, it will take you to the Championship catalog. Go to football and then either scroll down the page till you see the “NEW!” at the bottom of the page… or type in my name and it’ll bring it up.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me:


“What Did I Say?!”

Posted by admin June - 9 - 2010 - Wednesday 1 COMMENT

My school principal, a former head coach, and I were talkin’ football yesterday. He brought up an incident while he was coaching. It happened on his practice field one day.

It was during Defensive Individual Period. He was working with the D Line with the Outside LB coach adjacent to his drill area. He related how his OLB coach was giving one young man a “fit!” Chewing him out; giving him “what for” because the young man kept messing up on his read. When the OT blocked, the player would drop off to the flat. The tackle would show pass and the player would blitz across the line. It seemed he’d get it right once and then mess up 2 more times. The poor kid was totally deflated by the end of the period.

My principal (then the HC) walked over to the boy during the next water break… hoping to give him a little encouraging word and find out what the problem was— why was he messing up almost every time on his “read.”

The boy looked at him and said with a perplexed look on his face, “Coach, what do you mean by ‘my read'”?! Coach looked at him and said, “don’t you understand that you read the OT’s block to determine if you come up the field or drop in the flat?!” The boy looked dumbfounded!

Long story short: the boy had a doctor’s appointment the first day that they did Defensive Individual work and that is the ONLY day that the assistant coach in charge of Outside LB’s had gone over what the “read” was for OLB’s! The boy was clueless. He got it “right” part of the time by simply “guessing”— so the law of averages said that he’d get 50% of the guesses right!

My principal and I chuckled at the situation and then started talking about what went wrong! First, the assistant coach only went over the rules of the OLB read once… the first practice that they went to defensive positions and that was it! No wonder the kid was messing up. Coaches have to repeat and repeat and repeat key instructions to players. If they are important, they are worth repeating. I’ve found that some kids will forget stuff from a Thursday practice to Monday!!! Their minds are “wired” differently as adolescents!!!

Second key, that I brought up in our conversation yesterday, is that I’m always making sure that the “football vocabulary” that I use is understood by players… and coaches! For example, attitude. Can you define it? Really! Can you define the term “attitude?” Think about it for a second.

A kid’s answer is typically: “the way you act.” And that’s true— partially. But where does that “action” originate? It starts in your head. It’s your frame of mind; your feeling; your outlook or perspective. THAT can be a “life lesson” for any kid to hear. We use the word (attitude) all the time… but could you really nail it down to what it actually infers? If you were having a hard time, think how a teenager would deal with it?

When you start using “football terminology” it becomes even more important that you communicate effectively. I recall as a young coach that our HC was talking about an “eagle” defense. I had NO clue what he was talking about! and I was too embarrassed to ask— didn’t want to appear ignorant. So, I’d listen and watch and still couldn’t figure out what happens when you go to an “eagle” front! It was half way through the season before it finally clicked!

That’s fine for a young, JV assistant coach; but not for a Varsity assistant who’s a key element in getting your defense up to snuff. This goes back to “Coaching Your Coaches”! For players, it becomes even more important. Do they understand what (for a Delaware Wing T Offensive lineman) “Gap” and “Down” mean? Do they even know what a “lateral” step is planted?!

REMEMBER: The best coaches are the best teachers. The best teachers are the best communicators. The best communicators are those who “understand” their audience. This has really been brought home to me in the last few days as I heard of Coach John Wooden’s death. I have read everything I could get my hands on that he had written— even though he coached basketball and not football. It didn’t matter! He is, in my opinion, THE greatest coach of any sport who’s ever coached! He was the consummate “communicator.”

How about you? Do you make sure that your players “understand” what you are communicating? Or do you just assume that they know? You know what they say about the term: “assume”? When you “assume” something, it’s like that it will make an “A_ _” out of U and ME!

That’s why coaching up the little things can make such a huge difference in the success level of your program!

Are You Searching for Contentment?

Posted by admin June - 1 - 2010 - Tuesday Comments Off on Are You Searching for Contentment?

I felt led to share this today. It is again from a KLOVE Christian radio daily devotion that I read recently.

It’s easy to be content when things in life are going your way. But how often does that happen? The Bible says that we are to practice being “joyful at any times in everything” (check that out in 1st Thessalonians 5:16), because if you put your life on hold… waiting for what you want to happen, you may be waiting a long time! It’s been said, “Don’t spoil what you have by desiring what you don’t have. Remember that what you now have was the thing that you once hoped for!” Strong!

Three things constantly feed our discontentment. (This, in my mind, is what causes coaches to be so grumpy all the time… so get ready coaches!)
1- Greed. When you dwell on what you don’t have, you’re not enjoying what you already have. You’re not enjoying what God has blessed you with. Be satisfied! Setting goals is great… but stop focusing so hard on the end result. Learn to rejoice while you’re on your way.

I’ll never forget the interview with Walter Payton right after the Bears’ Super Bowl victory. He told the reporter that it had been a great season… NOT because they’d won the Super Bowl (which was great!) but because for the first time in his career he’d enjoyed the journey. Payton had experienced the joy of being there competing each week…. instead of focusing on what had been an elusive goal for him during his illustrious career— getting to the Super Bowl.

2- Fear. It wants you to run from something that’s not chasing you! It’s the enemy’s way of a) robbing you of peace and tranquility; b) tormenting you with the “what if’s”; c) keeping you from trusting God.

It was the “fear of failure” that drove me to succeed in athletics while I played and it tormented me mercilessly when I started coaching. Once I did put my trust in God through the Person of Jesus Christ, all that started to change. What a refreshing, freeing feeling— to get that snarling, biting “animal” of fearing failure off my back! WOW! What a difference it made in my life and my demeanor. I still worked hard to win; but it wasn’t to keep others from thinking less of me (in my eyes!)

3- Seeking Satisfaction in the Wrong Places. The Bible says in the Book of Jeremiah that “My people have forsaken the living water, and dug up broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” It’s said that we spend our first 50 years searching for security, and the rest of our lives looking for significance. But we don’t have to!

The hymn writer wrote, “Now none but Christ can satisfy; no other Name for me. There’s love, life and lasting joy, Lord Jesus found in Thee!”

Are you searching for contentment? Try Jesus!