Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for March, 2011

Isaiah 40:31— Waiting!!!

Posted by admin March - 30 - 2011 - Wednesday 2 COMMENTS

How many of you enjoy waiting for something?!! Like in the check-out line at the grocery store? Or in line at an amusement park?? NO fun!!! for me anyway… how about YOU?? The Lord has been teaching me to WAIT… on Him!!! I submitted to His authority in my life almost 30 years ago. From a football perspective, I told God that He is my Head Coach… even though my title was “head coach.” He is my Boss! Which means, what He says is what I do! That is, IF I’m going to be a good assistant coach!

He told me in October when I knew I was going to retire from Chesapeake Schools in June (yea!) to WAIT. He led me to this Bible verse: Isaiah 40:31— “Those who WAIT upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up on eagles’ wings.” I trusted Him so I waited. Wellllllllllll… I waited a little while. Then I started running ahead of His timing and His plan. And I got slapped around! Once I fell back in line, He blessed me with this wonderful new position as head football coach at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. WOW!!!

Then I started working on hiring a coaching staff. Once again, I didn’t show a lot of patience… ran out ahead of Him and was dismayed at the number of people who turned me down. When I finally stopped, stepped back and just waited (again!), He poured out His grace and brought me thhis week a wonderful young man who will be perfect for my staff!!! I thought my staff was supposed to be finalized by the end of January! Not His plan. His timing was the end of March!

There’s only one way to learn patienceand that’s to WAIT!!! You learn to wait and not run out ahead… be obedient and good things happen. Not only now but in the future. It’s one of those “life lessons” that most of us need to learn and apply!

God is gooooooood!!!! ALL the time!

Core Values

Posted by admin March - 22 - 2011 - Tuesday Comments Off on Core Values

I spent the week-end in Lynchburg, Va. at the Mid-Atlantic Wings ‘n Things Coaches Clinic. Cecil Phillips did a great job putting on the clinic for us! What was special to me was that I got to spend time getting to know 2 of my new assistant coaches who attended with me. We had a 3 1/2 hour drive going up on Friday so I asked them to take as much as an hour (if they needed it) and just share their “story” with me. It was great! I then took my turn at sharing after both of them were done. As much time as you’re going to spend with your coaches, I think it’s important to know about them as “people” too!

What I shared as I told my life story was some of my core values. What do I mean… by core values? In an ever-changing world they are principles that should govern our life. Core values explain why you do the things you do, and what you stand for. They are not just business or coaching strategies, cultural norms or responses to changes in society. Core values are non-negotiables that dictate how you live your life. Most people want to operate from a firm set of values. However, trying to live that way is more challenging than you think. Take a minute and set this reading aside and get a pen and a piece of paper. Now, write down your core values. I’ll wait….

For most people, it’s a stunning realization that they may not actually know what their core values are! My hope is that you’ll be challenged to explore and integrate your core values into your daily life. The Bible says: “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.” What we truly believe determines how we act and manifests itself in our daily routine.

I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t STAND for something, you’ll fall for anything!” A lot of wisdom there— for young and old! Knowing our core values and living by them are keys to personal satisfaction. There may be times when we are challenged about what we believe; but it’s a small price to pay to keep our personal integrity.

My Dad died in 1976 at the age of 56. I was in my late 20’s and was just beginning to know him from a “man to man” perspective. I always loved him and admired him because he was my Dad! I realized as my Mom and I cleaned out his office WHY I admired him so much. He had a sign hanging over his office door that Mom said he read every day. He lived by this saying. It goes:
“The man who cannot settle in his mind where he should stand,
but merely stays astride the fence, is certain in the end to prove himself of little worth to either side.
But he alone will be of value who, though sometimes pressure may be brought to bear,
knows in his heart where he should stand and then,
despite the consequence, stands firmly there.”

That was it! That was my Dad. That’s how he lived his life. A life of honor and integrity. A man of his word. I knew right then that it was what was missing in my life. I chose that day to follow that saying… well, to emulate my Dad. I asked Mom if I could have the sign with the slogan on it for my office. To this day it hangs over my office door as a reminder of what my core values are and how I must be true to them.

My life is committed to Jesus Christ and living the kind of life that is pleasing to Him. Jesus said: “Go and make disciples.” It wasn’t a request… it was a command. It’s brought some “heat” at times in my life but it’s all been worth it. My goal is to stand before the throne of God one day and hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and enter into your rest… with Me!”

Know what your core values are and then dedicate your life to living them. Remember: you never know when little eyes are watching you. Values, for the most part, aren’t taught— they’re caught! As a coach or as a Dad, you’re kids are watching you; evaluating you; emulating you. How you act around them is what they learn that you stand for. Attitudes are contageous. Are yours worth catching?!

In Christ,

Multi-sport Athletes

Posted by admin March - 15 - 2011 - Tuesday 3 COMMENTS

I commented a couple of weeks ago about “losing” players to our spring sports teams that were starting practice. I was talking with a friend at the fitness center today and he asked what I’m doing as far as off-season work-outs at my new school. I told him about how our numbers were very good until most of them left to start their spring sport practices. He asked, “doesn’t that upset you? How can your kids get any better if they’re not working on football year round?!” I think this voices the paranoia that a lot of us feel about “hording” our players. The Age of Specialization is so entrenched that we had 3 potential football players refuse to come out for our middle school team last fall because their AAU basketball coach told them that they needed to be playing basketball all fall!!! One of the boys actually had Allen Iverson tell him that he should go ahead and play football. But… the AAU coach was standing there and said, “No, football will hurt your chances of making the elite team this spring.” The coach’s opinion won out. But “hoorah” for Allen Iverson! This specializing in one sport at such an early age is NOT good for kids. But, we as coaches put that pressure on them; so they think they have to pick one and spend their whole high school career focusing on that sport. I just don’t think that’s good for the player.

If you are concerned about your football players running track or playing lacrosse, I say “don’t worry.” Yes, the weight room is important. If you can set up an early morning weight lifting schedule where kids can come in before school, try it. However, I believe that the in-season sport takes priority. If the in-season coach doesn’t want him to lift, you need to respect that. Would you want the Wrestling coach at your school telling your football players that they have to be in the wrestling room 3 times a week in October and November at 6 am to get ready for wrestling season?!! I don’t think so!!! It works both ways!

I still think it’s beneficial to the high school athlete to compete in different sports. Frankly, just for the sake of competing. There’s nothing like testing your quarterback’s intestinal fortitude by lining up in the blocks to start a 100 m. track race! He’ll experience things you can never teach him just by competing in those races. Just “drink the specialization koolaid” and get in your head that you can’t be successful unless all of your athletes lift with you for the entire off season. There are benefits to letting them participate in other sports.


Posted by admin March - 10 - 2011 - Thursday Comments Off on WATCH WHAT YOU SAY!

As a coach, I don’t think that many of us have any idea how much our player’s (and coaches) emotions, self-esteem and hopes are influenced by what we say. If someone took a poll, would you be identified as an encourager or a discourager???

What you say can never be taken back. Once its out of your mouth, you can’t grab it and stick it back in. So, be careful. Watch what you say! Your words can build up or they can cut like a knife. Your words will be evidence for or against you one day.

Dr. Thomas Blackaby points out: “Words can leave scars for a lifetime. Many people will never forget some of the things you’ve said to them… both good things, such as words of encouragement, and bad things, such as criticism and rebuke. We need to make the best possible use of words so they bring blessings to others.”

So, are your words encouraging? Can it be said that there’s “nothing crooked or perverse… in them” (from Proverbs 8:8)? The words of the famous quote always resonate in my mind— particularly now that I’m back into high school coaching. It states, “nobody cares how much (football) you know until they know how much you care!” You can be tough-minded and strict with your players; but, if you are constantly beating them down with your words of criticism and ridicule, you can expect that they won’t be as willing to work as hard for you or support you.

I think of a couple of the football movies that have been produced over the years. Of course, it’s Hollywood so it’s not going to be entirely accurate; but, in the cases where the coach was a tyrant or egomaniac, the players rebelled. If you have not watched the movie, Facing the Giants I would encourage you to watch it in the near future. It is a Christian-based film. The lead character (the head coach of a high school team) has an epiphany that is life-changing. What happens afterwards as he relates to his players shows how our words can change a kid’s view of himself and motivate your players to greatness. Isn’t that why we’re in coaching? To help kids succeed? Is “it” about the kids OR… is it about feeding our ego? Think about it.

Coach Pat Murphy

Posted by admin March - 7 - 2011 - Monday Comments Off on Coach Pat Murphy

I am amazed at how helpful coaches are. I have met/interacted with quite a few around the country in the last couple of years. I missed this when I coached high school a few years back. I’m sure that others probably felt the same way about me but we had little fellowship among the coaches in my area. We viewed each other, I’m afraid, as the enemy and wanted to have little to do with each other— for fear that the other guy would get an edge. Retiring solved that problem. I have really enjoyed helping others and talking football (and the Lord!) with many of you reading this right now! I would encourage you to “reach out” to the coaches in your league. If you do not have a coach’s association, look to start one. Get involved in it. Get to know these guys. As I said, some of the best people I’ve met since I retired are other HS coaches. I want to mention one of them to you here.

His name is Pat Murphy and he is the HC at Capital HS in Helena, MT. Pat runs a shotgun version of my beloved Wing T offense. He has spent countless hours tutoring me through email on its nuances. We both spoke at the National Wing T Coaches Clinic in Pittsburgh so I had the chance to meet him in person and shake his hand. Great coach and great guy!

Pat has just gone online with his own website. It is If you are looking for a unique way to run your Wing T offense, Pat’s got one for you. I am pleased to recommend this website to my readers. If you are a Wing T guy, you need to check it out.

Since I am talking up coaches, let me thank a couple of other guys who’ve been very helpful to me. They are great resources and would be glad to help you with any questions you might have concerning their offense. The first is Cecil Phillips at Amherst County HS in Amherst, VA. Cecil and I became friends when he started up a program here in our area. He moved to Amherst (which is up at the other end of the state) 3-4 years ago to take over a traditionally succesful program. He called on me for some advice and our friendship just grew. His offense is the double Slot/double SE Wing T— with Jet Sweep being his signature play. This past fall he went to a Spinner version of this double slot out of the shotgun and fell in love with it. He would love to talk Jet and Spinner with you.

Another guy who’s been tremendously patient with me is Rick Darlington down at Apopka HS outside of Orlando, FL. I saw Apopka on ESPN in August and was wowed by his Single Wing offense! We contacted each other and, once again, here’s a coach who goes out of his way to help you with this Single Wing attack.

One more guy is Rich Hargitt. He’s outside of Charlotte, NC. Rich’s area of expertise is the Double Wing offense. He and I are actually collaborating on a new book: 101 Shotgun Wing T Plays which Coaches Choice has agreed to publish. He is a storehouse of knowledge… and again very willing to talk football any time you want to.

Finally, I want to mention Danny Dodson. Danny is my friend and a Brother-in-Christ. He is the HC at Woodside HS in Newport News, Va. I kinda helped Danny get started with his Wing T offense and he’s gone waaaaaaaaaaay past me with what he is doing with it now— again, a lot of stuff from the shotgun/Wildcat look. Danny plays in the same district as Phoebus and Hampton HS. If you know anything about Virginia football, you know about these 2 perennial state championship programs. Danny has earned the reputation of making that district a “3 team race” and not just 2 anymore… running his version of the Wing T. He will be speaking at the Wings ‘n Things clinic in Lynchburg, Va in a couple of weeks.

OK… there are more! I will mention some others at a future date. My point is, there are plenty of coaches out there willing to help you if you just ask. If you get the chance to visit a college’s coaches clinic… go for it! However, I have found over the years that it’s tough to use a lot of the stuff that colleges use. I would encourage you to find a HS staff near you that your staff can travel toand meet with. Most HS coaches are flattered that you would ask to spend some time with them. A nominal fee to compensate him for his time makes it worthwhile for everybody. I always used to take my staff to meet with and “clinic” with a successful HS staff in our state. I gained a LOT more from talking with them than I did from a college staff. Talking to another HS coach affords you the opportunity to find out how he does things. He’s dealing with the same situations as you are. A “kindred spirit,” if you would.