Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for November, 2011

Why You Need COURAGE

Posted by admin November - 30 - 2011 - Wednesday 1 COMMENT

Reading something just recently sparked this in my mind…. our pastor preached on “Courage” a few weeks ago and then I read that devotional and I sensed that this is a subject that I need to share with others. Why do we need courage?

Think about this: in 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested in Alabama for refusing to give her seat on the bus to a white man. Boycotts and bloodshed followed until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation was unconstitutional. Later Ms. Parks wrote: “Knowing what must be done does away with fear. When I sat down on the bus that day I had no idea history was being made, I was only thinking about getting home. But I had to make up my mind. After many years of being a victim… not giving up my seat, and whatever I had to face afterwards, wasn’t important… I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face. It was time for someone to stand up— or in my case, sit down.”

Courage is displayed at unexpected moments; what you do in such moments can change you, and those around you. The story’s told of a spy who was sentenced to death by a general in the Persian Army. The general had a strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and “the BIG door.” When the general asked, “What will it be?” the spy chose the firing squad. Turning to his aide the general said, “They always prefer the known to the unknown, yet, I gave them a choice.” The aide asked, “What lies beyond the big door, sir?” The general replied, “Freedom.” Then he added, “Few men are brave enough to take that door.”

The dividing line between mediocrity and success is COURAGE! That why King David told his son Solomon upon ascending the throne: “Be strong and of good courage, and… do it.” I like the words that God shared with Joshua before he took the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land: “Be bold, be strong… for the Lord your God is with you.” He’s with you too as you undertake something that requires courage on your part. Choose the “big door” and step out into freedom.

Gotta Love Those Experts!

Posted by admin November - 15 - 2011 - Tuesday 2 COMMENTS

I had a coach email me to ask: “how do I keep parents/fans off my tail?! They want to complain about our antique offense (the Wing T!) and that we don’t throw enough… after every game. What do I do?!”

The key in that whole statement is: after the game. No coach wants to be hounded after a game. This is HS not college nor pro’s. The HC doesn’t have to meet the press and be grilled by them like a D1 coach has to. A HS coach wants to talk with his team for a couple of minutes after the game and then get a hug from his family and head into the locker room. He doesn’t need to be badgered by all of the experts who know more than he does about coaching HS football— who want to explain how he messed up and when is he going to change things!

My first statement is: clear it with your administration but… set a team policy that you will only meet with parents during the week and… make an appointment. You will not discuss the game with anyone that night. If someone tries to bring it up, you politely tell them that “our team policies do not allow us to discuss this now. Please call on Monday and make an appointment.” This should be laid out clearly in your pre-season Parent/Player Orientation meeting. *If you want more on player policies, I would encourage you to purchase a copy of my book.

Once a policy has been set, if a parent tries to supercede it, you merely stop them and politely… remind them and say “good night.”

I think it’s important to establish lines of communication and keep them open with parents, administrators and players. Don’t develop a “bunker mentality” where you build a wall and don’t allow any communication. Let parents know the parameters of what CAN be discussed and what is off limits. For instance, I’ve had coaches tell me that one of their policies is: we will not discuss playing time for your son. We can talk about HOW he can improve himself but discussing WHY Johnny is starting ahead of your Billy is off limits.

All of this requires that you be assertive but NOT aggressive. You can be polite with parents/fans without having to resort to being ugly. If the parent/fan wants to get aggressive; i.e., ugly, tell them that this conversation is now over and if you would like to discuss it further… call my AD! and then let the AD know what you told that parent so he doesn’t get ambushed.

I heard it said that if a parent wants to critique your coaching… then ask him if you can visit him at his workplace so you can observe his work skills and techniques. Then, you’ll wait for him outside as he heads for his car to go home and you will proceed to list all the things that YOU think he can do better! I’m not sure if that falls under the catagory of being “polite” but it sure sounds good! I’ve never had the guts to say it to anyone’s face— but I’ve sure wanted to!

The key is to build a rapport between you and your parents. Let them know that you are not perfect but… you are going to treat their kids the right way. Ask for their support. Let them know that we are a football family and that we have to stick together. If someone criticized how they have reared their son, you’re going to defend them. Would they please support you if they hear any negativism about your coaching. We’re all in this together!

I hope this gives you some help in a very important but sensitive area. Again: communication is the key to establishing good relationships— in any organization.

The Season’s Over!

Posted by admin November - 7 - 2011 - Monday 5 COMMENTS

Our season ended with a bang Friday night. Then, we had a “held-breath” 24 hours where we waited to see if we would sneak in as the last seed in our state play-offs! We needed 5 things to go our way and 4 of them did! But, alas, the 5th piece of the puzzle didn’t fall into place. RATS! but… Praise God anyhow! It was a terrrific year. We only went 6 and 4; but, if you’ve been following these posts you’ll know that we started out 0 and 4… then ran the table for the last 6 games.

My challenge to those of you who coach is to answer the same 3 questions that I am posing to myself now that our season is over: 1- What did I learn about myself? 2- What did I learn about my team/players? 3- What did I learn about coaching in general?
I’ll give you my brief answers to each for your perusal and comments (if you wish to make any.) 1- What did I learn about myself? First off, I learned that I have grown in my faith and the trust I have in Jesus is real. Even though we were 0 and 4, I did not give up. I did not blame God. I did not start having my “pity parties”— like I would’ve 6-7 years ago. I have been able to form a fire wall between my professional self and my personal self— which includes my spritual life.

2- What did I learn about my players? I have the greatest bunch of kids in the world to work with! They too, did not falter in the midst of a couple of devastating losses. They remained hopeful, worked hard and never pointed any fingers of blame. Once our Wing T system started clicking, there was no stopping us. We “stayed the course.” I did not give up on our system (though I did consolidate things) and I did not give up on our kids. We went out each Monday and kept working on getting better.

3- What did I learn about coaching in general? A couple of valuable things. One deals with being able to trust God in the midst of the hard times. I didn’t get down on myself, our staff nor our players. I remained positive and kept teaching. Which leads to my main point: persistence or determination are key factors in developing and maintaining a successful organization. We didn’t make wholesale changes. We kept looking for answers. We stayed with what we know and kept getting better at it. When things looked the bleakest, we stood together as a united front. We showed the kids that we believed in them and they in turn learned to trust us. At times, I lost my temper but they knew why? “I cannot coach effort!” When I saw them being lazy in practice is when I’d get upset. They might not have been executing the way we wanted but they could always hustle. We rewarded effort in our “Helmet Sticker Ceremony” (see my book!) and that in turn encouraged other guys to give that extra effort too. It paid off.

So… from my answers to the 3 questions, you can see why I consider a 6-4 season to be a verrrrrrrrrrry successful year. If you would like to write up your answers and send them to me for review and comments, please feel free to write. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. I mean… I’m sitting here today FULLY retired now and little to do but hang out on the computer. I’ll start reviewing game video tomorrow!