Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for April, 2012

Step Out Into COURAGE

Posted by admin April - 30 - 2012 - Monday 1 COMMENT

David was bringing food to his brothers at the battlefront when he saw Goliath. He wasn’t even thinking of being a hero that day, he just seized an opportunity other soldiers only dreamt about. Opportunities will catch you by surprise too, and if you’re not alert and ready, you’ll miss them.

What others discovered in David that day— had been there all along! If you’re a leader, you already possess the talent necessary to lead. But courage is what will establish you as a leader before others. The people we revere the most, demonstrate courage— courage on the battlefield and the football field, courage to defend the defenseless, or simply to attempt what nobody else thought possible.

You may be thinking, “But I lack the necessary funds.” Don’t worry, capital follows courage. What always preceded how. Don’t be intimidated by the numbers. I saw Woodrow Wilson win a AAA state championship here is Virginia several years ago with 31 players on their team. They beat a team in the championship game that carried over 80 players on its roster. It’s important to know from a spiritual standpoint that God is not moved by spreadsheets or how thick your playbook is. He’s moved by faith. Don’t let how intimidate you. It’s because how is so challenging that it provides you with great opportunity.

If the pathway to success were well-lit it would already by crowded. If how wasn’t a problem, someone else would already have figured it out! All progress begins with one question: “What needs to be done?” Somebody needs to be asking that question— why not make it YOU?!

The future belongs to those who have the courage to ask that question and…. the faith to hang on until they discover the answer. When the obstacles look too big and opposition seems too strong, you need to stand on the Word: “Do not be afraid or discouraged… for there is a greater power (God, through His Holy Spirit!) with us than with him.” (2 Chron. 32:7)

The “Water Test”

Posted by admin April - 20 - 2012 - Friday Comments Off on The “Water Test”

Today’s lesson is a hard one for any head coach, but it’s something that has to be dealt with.

If somebody keeps refusing to support you, let them go— or you’ll wish you had! This is especially hard if you’re (like me) a nurturer by nature. Somebody who’s invested in making relationships work and will hang in there with someone, hoping they’ll change. You can’t convert the fearful into the faithful! That’s God’s job. God’s “water test” showed Gideon who he could count on and who he couldn’t.

This is one of my favorite Old Testament accounts of how God teaches us to work as a leader. God told Gideon: “You have too large an army. When you’re victorious, they’ll take the credit. Make an announcement: ‘Anyone who has any qualms before we go into battle may leave.’ Twenty two thousand headed home. Ten thousand were left. And God said, ‘There’s still too many. Take them down to the stream and I’ll make a final cut.'”

When the opposition is standing strongly against you is often the time when you lose the most support of those around you. Don’t worry, God is at work. During that first cut, when Gideon lost 22,000 men, what looked like a set-back was really a set-up from God to determine who was dependable. It’s in the rough times that you find out who really stands with you. “Gideon took the soldiers down to the stream. Three hundred lapped from their cupped hands… the rest knelt down to drink. God said, ‘I’ll use the 300 to give you the victory.'”

We learn 2 lessons from this story: 1- You need to be able to SEE your enemy approaching. Those who knelt to drink, sacrificed their vision to satisfy their immediate need. When assistant coaches or players lose track of the vision you have for your program, it usually means that they are more concerned about themselves than the team. I had a player early in my career who didn’t show up for practice on Monday. We weren’t very good at the time but he was a pretty good player. The kids told me that “he quit… that’s why he didn’t come to practice today.” We couldn’t afford to lose a player of his caliber so I called him in my office the next morning to talk to him. At that point he was very repentant and wanted to get back on the team. It had to have been the Lord prompting me, because I got this thought: I asked him, “Ryan, would you rather we go 10 and 0 and you don’t start OR… we go 0 and 10 and you start all 10 games?” He replied, “Go 0 and 10 and I get to start.” I smiled and thanked him and said, “We won’t be needing your services. You made your choice to quit and we’re going to abide by that.”

I knew about this story of Gideon and decided to apply it. It didn’t immediately turn our program around but… this experience was one of those “key moments” when a paradym shift occured and the players realized that when I talked about unselfish play, I meant it!

Second lesson: When it seems that God has reduced your support, it’s to give you a great victory. It’s to show that how somebody without a lot of experience can lead a football team. Somebody who’s lost everything can make a comeback.

So when the people around you can’t pass God’s “water test,” let them go and trust God. He has something better in mind for you. Oh yes…. the player who replaced the one who quit was just a Sophomore at the time. By his senior year, he was an All District player and had a chance to play 1AA ball after he graduated. Our record got better real fast! God is good!!!

R U Cheating?

Posted by admin April - 5 - 2012 - Thursday 1 COMMENT

As my thoughts focus on Easter week-end, I am reminded of the series of sermons that our pastors just finished… thus the title of my entry this week! They asked the question every week for 7 weeks: “Are You Cheating?” In essence, this is saying that you are short-changing God, your family and yourself because you are running too fast to try and win the “rat race!” The problem is: do you know anyone who has ever won the rat race? Then, why do we compete in an unwinnable race? I think it’s because we’re all programmed to want the good life. The life that Madison Avenue tells us we need to strive for. This ficticious standard of living that we work our tails off to achieve. When we choose to try to win the rat race, fracture lines soon appear in our relationships and crumbling is not far behind. Unfortunately, all too often, men leave a trail of broken relationships when we pursue this “good life.” So, we end up cheating those closest to us and ourselves too!

According to our pastor, it all comes down to FOCUS. We need to focus on what’s most important. Why? First off, focus determines your purpose/dream in life. What is your purpose in coaching football? (I bet I know your “dream!”— to win a state championship!) My response to that would be a line from the movie Facing the Giants. The coach said to his players, “If winning football games is your chief purpose in playing football then your goal is too small!”

Focus also defines significance for our life. It goes hand in hand with what I just said. If you are attempting to gain your significance by being a championship football coach, then you are seeking a misdirected goal. You’re focusing too much on who you are instead of whose you are!

So what we need to do is determine the most important thing in our life. Pastor Jim said that there are 3 questions you must get answers to. They are:
1- Will I be SELF-centered or Christ-centered? In other words, WHO do I live my life for? I might add: your career doesn’t build significance. The World may tell you it does but, stop for a minute. Name the last 10 Secretary’s of State for the USA? Pretty significant job, isn’t it? Who were they?

2- Will I focus on character or comfort? Building and sustaining character takes a lot of work. It requires monitoring your behavior. One of my favorite Bible passages is in 2 Peter. To paraphrase, it says: Supplement your faith with a strong dose of moral excellence and self control. Self control will build endurance. All of this will end in love. It starts with faith and ends with love. You want a real challenge?! Try to live your life the way Jesus calls us to! I found that I needed His help (and His Helper) really fast.
3- Finally… will you be a giver or a taker? I am a little bit of an introvert. I have to get out of my comfort zone to really reach out to people… till I get to know them. I was often envious of people who I observed walking into a crowded room and immediately people there gravitated to that person. I guess they call that charisma. Then one day as I complained about not having that ability to “draw” people to me, the Lord impressed upon me that, “Lew… you are NOT a magnet. You are a honey bee!” huh???!!! As I thought about it, what He was telling me was: “Get out of your comfort zone. Stop being a “taken” and start being a “giver.” Get out there and meet and greet people. After a while, you’ll be able to share with them how much I (God) love them too!” What does God want to say to the world through you? What message does your life send?

On this Easter week-end, I think of the excruciating pain that Jesus went through to pay a price for me that I’ll never be able to repay! His death and resurrection set me free to live a life that (I try!) is pleasing to Him.

Happy Easter! and remember: HE’S ALIVE!!!