Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for September, 2012


Posted by admin September - 27 - 2012 - Thursday Comments Off on “Purpose”

The “Word of the Week” for my team is: PURPOSE. I challenged them with a question today during our team’s “ceremony”: What is your purpose in playing football for this team?! I let them think about it for a minute and then responded with a variation on a great line from the football movie, Facing the Giants: “If you said ‘winning football games’ as your purpose then…. your vision of what you are playing for is too small!!!

I shared with them that my purpose for coaching them is that they will leave our program even better men than when they joined it. We want to teach them about life as we deal with the many up’s and down’s that we face during a season. I wanted them to know that they mean MORE to me than just being a “slab of meat.” Reaching their athletic goals is important too and… I LOVE to win! but…. If I don’t care about them as more than just a football player, then I don’t really care about them at all.

My high school coach is very sick. He’s been dealing with declining health for the last few years. He’s in his 80’s now and probably won’t be around much longer. (I say that but then he is a “tough old bird” and will probably defeat this health problem the same way he taught us to fight through adversity when I played for him as a 16 year old kid.) Coach O’Brien and my dad were/are my heroes! There weren’t 2 other men while I growing up who I wanted to please more than my dad and my coach. They were both tough on me but knew how to get the most out of me. I look back to my high school football days and realize that I lead my program and coach my kids with a lot of the same principles that were taught me when I played.

I want my players to respect me. They respect me because I respect them. I want my players to want to play hard for me… cuz, as the old saying goes: “No player cares how much you know until he knows how much you care.” What they do OFF the field (in the classroom, around school, with their family and loved ones and in our community) is as important as what they achieve ON the field. I heard a coach say once, “It’s not my job to help my players get into college. Once the season’s over, my job is done.” That statement made me wonder how much that coach realllllllly cared about his players. I questioned why he was in coaching. As I watched him over the next couple of years, it just confirmed what I surmised when I heard that first statement: He was on an ego trip. When his team continually played poorly, he got out of coaching. It was too damanging to his self image!

What is YOUR purpose for coaching high school football?

Lombardi and Landry

Posted by admin September - 24 - 2012 - Monday Comments Off on Lombardi and Landry

I just finished a book I checked out of our public library. It’s title is Lombardi and Landry by Ernie Palladino. If you are a NY Giants fan, you are going to enjoy the author’s recollections of the Giants of the 50’s when Lombardi and Landry were the O Coord. and D Coord. on those teams.

If you like to read about the philosophy and concepts that great coaches utilize, you’ll love delving into 2 of the greatest football minds the game has ever known. Seeing what they created as assistants gives you the background of why they became great head coaches. Lombardi: the consummate technician. Landry: the immaginative innovator. Both men had their way of doing things. It’s a great read.

Don’t Hit the Panic Button!!!

Posted by admin September - 17 - 2012 - Monday 1 COMMENT

I hope that none of my coaching friends who read this blog find themselves in the situation I was in last week at this time. We had a great pre-season; performed well in both of our scrimmages and our hopes were high!
We faced a strong opponent that beat us up last year to the tune of 38-16. We lost on a missed extra point 14-13 to open this season. Then in our second game we faced the defending state champions who thumped us 38-0 last year. We went up to their place and lost on a questionable call on our 2 point conversion with just over a minute left, 27-26.

So there we were sitting 0-2 when we were 2 points away from being undefeated. What did we do? What we didn”t do was “hit the panic button.” We have good kids who understand that the margin of error is quite thin. We just kept working on fundamentals and preached execution and effort. Instead of installing more plays, we focused on getting better at our base offense. Our defense needed to tackle better and pursue to the ball. Guess what we spent extra time on?!! So what happened this past Friday? We went up against the state runner-up from last year! We led 14-6 at halftime and I was not pleased with our effort. I spoke pretty strongly at halftime about picking up our intensity. We went out the second half and played perhaps the best half of football that one of my teams has played in 10 years! We pretty much dominated all phases of the game. Our offense scored 4 times in the second half and our defense gave up one long pass play when the game was just about over. It was very gratifying to see the look of “mission accomplished” on our kids’ faces after the game!

Moral of the story? 1- Keep doing the things you’re doing…. just do them better. I have high expectations and that challenges the players to work hard to reach those expectations. Our practice schedule was built around working on fundamentals. It’s not very “sexy” but it’s what we needed to improve upon. 2- Don’t panic! The tendency to start trying new stuff is tempting. Stick with what you know best. Encourage the kids—don’t berate them. Help them to see that with a better block here or a finish on a tackle there, it would have been a different outcome. Kids are very resilient. Give them the encouragement they need to get focused on improving. Like Coach John Wooden used to say: “I’m much more concerned about having my team prepared than worrying about what the other team is going to do against us.” That means focusing on those fundamentals.


Posted by admin September - 15 - 2012 - Saturday Comments Off on Hacked!

I feel special!!! This website got hacked and it’s been down for a while getting repaired. God bless all those wonderful people out there who live to ruin other peoples’ lives!!!
I’ll be writing again soon.