Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for January, 2011

Meet and Greet!

Posted by admin January - 25 - 2011 - Tuesday 1 COMMENT

I continue to meet the nicest people as I get out in the school community. Attending the JV and V Boys basketball game Friday night at NSA (my new school), I had the chance to talk with the parents of several of our football players. Just getting the chance to make that contact is important. The response has been very positive and it just makes me more excited to hurry up and get August here so we can get started! “Patience… is a virtue,” says the Bible!

One of the parents that I met at the game is the Director of the local Pop Warner league that represents our school. I offered my services to him in whatever regard he needed my football knowledge. We talked about having me speak at the next “Dads night” coming up in a few weeks. We also discussed a mini clinic where I can introduce our offense and defense— hoping that some of the Youth coaches would want to install our system at their level.

Another important item discussed was having our high school players come down to a Pop Warner practice and maybe even “instruct” the young guys in skills. I want those young guys to feel a part of our school and our football program at an early age. While we were standing there talking, our AD came over and I mentioned, “do we have a Pop Warner Night at a Varsity home game?” She said “no, but that sounds like a great idea.” She is right there with me in wanting to promote the school and our athletic/football program. Great lady!

Finally, I went to a JJV (the equivolent of a middle/junior high school) basketball scrimmage. There is one young man on that team who is going to be a GREAT football player for us that I still hadn’t made personal contact with yet. I made sure that he knew I was there to watch him play… then we talked afterwards for a minute, too. I wanted him to see how important he is to me and our football team. This was the case last Friday too… as I saw a number of our football players either attending the basketball game or playing in one of them.

Coaches, it’s all about “public relations”— getting out in your community and making contacts with your people. How does the old saying go: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” I’ve always felt that the “first impression is often the lasting impression.” If you’re in it for the kids, you will want to get out there and let them know how excited you are to be working with them! And coaches: this is NOT just for you new guys at a new job… this holds true for veteran coaches who’ve been at a school for a while. I’m from the school of thought that you don’t kiss anybody’s backside.. but, you want to make your program attractive so that kids want to play for you! They have waaaaay too many options available these days to occupy their time.

The Importance of Little Things

Posted by admin January - 23 - 2011 - Sunday 1 COMMENT

Have you ever gone to a restaurant with somebody whose meal cost $8, and watched them struggle over the tip? They have $2 in change, and they know that leaving just $1 might be thought of as stingy. Yet do they leave $2? Not on your life! That would be too much. Instead they’ll waste ten minutes getting change for that second dollar so they can leave $1.50 tip and save themselves 50 cents, rather than “sow generously” and leave a little extra. What would have happened if they’d left the full $2? They would have the made the waitress or waiter’s day. Fifty cents may not seem like much, but the message that goes along with it can mean the world to someone else.

It says, “Thanks, you did a good job. I appreciate you, you’re valuable.” Maybe this message gets lost— your server just sweeps up the tip without counting— but you, the one who “sows generously” will still “reap generously.” What an opportunity. We can increase the happiness of others and bless ourselves, with just pocket change.

I have been sending “agape notes” to people in my church and others that I feel need to know that God loves them and so do I! Just a small card showing appreciation and love for who they are and how much their friendship means to me. It’s always hand-written and heartfelt. We miss opportunities to let others know that they are loved because we have it in our heads that we just don’t have time or it’s too much trouble to sit down and compose a hand-written note. What a shame. So many times over the years people whom I’ve sent these agape notes to have spoken to me (or written back!) and expressed how the note arrived at just the right time… and said just what they needed to hear. It’s a double blessing!

My plan is to continue this by also writing to my players from time to time. I’ve left notes in lockers in the past on the day of big games; but, my thought is that I need to be showing them how much I appreciate their hard work in those unexpected times too.

Small acts of kindness set the tone for our day. Going the extra mile— whether it’s a slightly larger tip, an unexpected compliment or a short note— costs very little and gets you a lot. Try it! You’ll find out that little things will make a BIG difference!

Off-season Work-outs Begin!

Posted by admin January - 13 - 2011 - Thursday 1 COMMENT

We held our first off-season work-out session yesterday. It was 38 degrees and the wind was blowing about 15 MPH… but the kids were there! It was a nice turn-out. There are some adjustments that I have to make coming from a large, AAA public school with 2400 students to a private school with only 400-500. One change is that most of the boys play multiple sports. I think that’s great and I encourage it! It helps the school’s other athletic programs but, more importantly, it means that the guys are competing all year round. I told them that, for example, there’s nothing like standing at that free throw line with 2 seconds left in the game and it’s all on you! Situations like that will help us next fall when we are in a close game.

The other mental adjustment for me is just the sheer number of athletes who will be participating. The coaches who are “hold overs” from the previous staff that I hired (all good men) remarked about how pleased they were with the turn out! “OK,” I said… “I’m glad you think so.” It’s a real paradigm shift for me.

I’ve talked with a few coaching friends who coach at small schools to get their perspective on having 25 on the team instead of 60. Yes, depth is a problem but I found myself enjoying the chance to really focus on a few kids— working with them and knowing that there aren’t 50 others just standing around. With small numbers, you can give each player personal attention.

We flexed then did some agility work: cone drills and the running ropes. I was impressed with their ability to pick things up quickly. Our high intelligence level is going to be a major advantage for us! Then we did some form running. We talked about how you can improve your speed with proper running mechanics. Again, after 10 minutes we had everybody up on the balls of their feet and pumping those shoulders.

Then we broke up into groups and threw the ball around some while the linemen went down to the other end and worked on stance and footwork. Just their ability to run good routes and catch the ball impressed me. Show these kids something one time and they’ve “got” it! I was pleased with the 2 QB candidates that I was working with. By the end of the 20 minute session, we had both of them showing pretty solid footwork and their throwing mechanics looked good.

We closed with a little “Grind Time”— to test their mental toughness! Some of you have written to ask about how to build toughness in kids. My response is that you build physical toughness by building mental toughness first. You put your players in situations where they have to “tough it out” and challenge them to persevere. The drill we did I learned from my Strength Coach here at the middle school I am retiring from. He calls them “Count Downs.” You get everyone in a circle with the coaches in the middle. Everyone’s on the ground facing inward in a push up position. On the command, everyone moves to the “up” position. We started at “10” for our Count Down thhis week. I called out “Down!” and they lowered themselves (full push up) and pushed back up while shouting (and it needs to be loud! and everyone has to call it out… or, you do it again!— DISCIPLINE!) They did their 10 push ups then I told them to flip over and we did 10 Crunchie/sit ups. Then they flip back over and we did 9 push ups… and 9 sit ups. Then 8 push ups and 8 sit up— all rapidly with no rest. Again, demaning that everyone do them correctly (especially when they start getting fatigued!— and shout out the number.)

When we finished “6” I told them it was “half time” and gave them a 30 second rest. Some of the younger kids really appreciated that. Then off we went again, counting down: “5”; “4”; and so on to “1”. On “1”, they went to the “Up” push up position and there they remained for about 30 seconds!!! The coaches were encouraging them to “stay up!”; “fight the pain!”; “don’t give up!” Working on developing discipline is building that toughness.. the attitude that: “I CAN do this!” We then pumped off the 1 push up, flipped over and did our 1 sit up and I called them up and congratulated them on a job well done.

It was a very good first day! I’m proud to be a Saint!

Intro Meeting

Posted by admin January - 9 - 2011 - Sunday 1 COMMENT

I met with those students interested in playing football the other day. It was a good turn-out and I could sense that they were “tuned in” to what I was sharing. I talked a little about my philosophy while I shared with them my vision of where I saw our program going and, more importantly, HOW we get there. I told them about the factors that I feel are critical to a successful HS football program.

The first is Leadership. It has to start with the rising Senior class but everyone has to be a leader by setting a good example. But it is the seniors who have the major responsibility of “guiding the ship.” I like what I see with our rising seniors. A great group of guys! I am blessed.

The second factor is Attitude. I told them that they would hear this time and again from me: Attitude Is EVERYTHING! Their mind set; their outlook; their willingness to persevere in the face of adversity is extremely important.

Third is Work Ethic… and this is expressed in the off season through their commitment to our weight program. We need to get faster and stronger. The weight room builds that plus more: team unity and a self confidence that only comes from seeing that weight go up.

Finally, the last factor I see as being critical to a program’s success is Talent. There’s no substitute for ability. But at the high school level, the first 3 factors can overcome the fourth! We will have a bunch of highly intelligent, motivated young men— with great attitudes and work ethic. If they will cooperate with me and respect their coaches and teammates, we will accomplish a lot.

On Wednesday, we will start our first off season workouts. I call them “Skills and Drills.” It will be my first chance to see those players who do not play a winter sport move around. We’ll do some agility work; work on form run and perform some skills cogent to a particular position; i.e., linemen will pull and run… backs will back pedal and turn. I want to evaluate where we are athletically and see what we need to work on.

This Year— Persevere!

Posted by admin January - 3 - 2011 - Monday Comments Off on This Year— Persevere!

This is kinda cool! As I’m writing to/for my coaching friends, I realize that it all applies to me now too! This injection of encouragement is from a devotional that I read this morning with breakfast. It really got me pumped up! Enjoy!

Observe two things about perseverance: 1- Perseverance means stopping NOT because you’re tired, but because the task is done! Diplomat Robert Strauss quipped, “Success is like wrestling a 1000 pound gorilla. You don’t quit when you are tired— you quit when the gorilla is tired.” When you’re fresh, excited and energetic (like you are at this time of the year) you work at a task with vigor. Only when you become weary do you need perseverance! Fatigue and discouragement are not reasons to quit, they’re reasons to draw closer to God, rely on your character and keep going. We underestimate what it takes to succeed. When we haven’t counted the cost we approach challenges with mere interest; what’s required is total commitment!

2-Perseverance doesn’t demand more than we have, but all that we have. Author Frank Tyger observed, “In every triumph, there is a lot of try.” But perseverance means more than just trying or working hard. Perseverance is an investment. It’s a willingness on our part to bind ourselves emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually to an idea, purpose or task… until it is finished. Perseverance demands a lot, but here’s the good news: everything you give is an ivestment in yourself! What do I mean by this? Wellllllllllllll, each time you do the right thing— seek God, work hard, treat others with respect, learn and grow— you invest in yourself. To do these things every day takes perseverance, but if you do them your success is guaranteed! Maybe not on the scoreboard in the stadium every Friday but in the “scoreboard of life” that God keeps. That has eternal consequences which far exceed how many points we put on the board during a game. Think about it!