Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for May, 2014


Posted by admin May - 29 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off on KNOW WHEN TO BE QUIET!

Our pastor is preaching/teaching on a series he’s entitled, Labels. We’ve been learning about how our language can impact others and… ourselves and how we, then, think of ourselves. We get “labeled” because others are always commenting about us. This brought to mind something I read recently. The author was exhorting us to know when to be quiet.

A lady wrote that her pregnant daughter chose to cut her very long hair to stylishly short. She was trying to get used to her new look when they ran into a friend. “Oh no!” her friend wailed. “What did you do to your hair? I don’t like it!” Then as if to rationalize her words, she quickly added, “Oh you know me. I’m a ‘Truth-teller.'” As the women walked away, the daughter snorted, “I could’ve done without the truth today!”

You have to be aware of that critical moment in your conversation when you’re faced with a choice: Do you say what you’re thinking? OR… do you zip it?!

We keep hearing that “being real” and “telling it like it is” is good for relationships. Reality TV, confessions on talk shows and tweeting the “truth” helps convince us (from a worldly perspective) that it’s OK to be authentic.

But… here’s what I know about myself. See if this is you, too! If I say everything I think, I can slay people in my life. And just because I think something— doesn’t necessarily make it true.

A good question to ask yourself when found in that situation is: “Is it helpful OR hurtful to the person or our relationship? Will my truthfulness build them up or tear them down?” The timing and the tone of any “truthful” comment is a critical aspect, too. It’s really unfair to make a comment when the other person is in NO position to do anything to fix the problem at that moment. For example, I want to know if my fly is open if I’m out in public! My wife helps me out in that case. But… with the tables turned and I were to tell her that she has a big grease spot on her blouse as we’re walking into church is only going to make her self-conscious the rest of the morning. Timing and tone is everything. I remind people all the time that what you say is not nearly as important as how you say it.

The Bible says in Proverbs that, “Fools vent… the wise quietly hold it back.” Knowing when not to speak is often more important than knowing what to say. That’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the church at Ephesus: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths. Speak only what is helpful for building others up… that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph. 4:29)

“Pre” Pre-season Planning!

Posted by admin May - 20 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off on “Pre” Pre-season Planning!

I am meeting with my coaching staff tonight. It’s our only meeting during the winter and spring. Some of you may feel the need for meeting more often. At one time, I used to meet monthly with my staff from January to June. As a smaller program now, I am able to connect with my assistants year-round. In fact, I have lunch with my O Line coach every 2 weeks. We enjoy a hot dog and talk Offense for 90 minutes. Our QB/DB coach is new to our staff— though he has over 40 years of college and high school experience! We’re talking “installation” and “terminology” once a week. We have a new Defensive Coordinator. He was already on our staff so it’s been a smooth transition with him. So, one meeting before the end of school where everyone (including our Middle School staff) gets together suffices to get everything covered.

I do it at my house. My sweet wife is gracious enough to prepare a meal for us. We eat and talk for about 30 minutes then adjourn to our Florida room (my “cave”) where we will meet for 90 minutes to review and plan.

Some things to have ready: 1- An agenda. Stay on task. 2- A time-keeper. I’ve promised to be done by 8pm. Stay on time! 3- Hand-out sheets covering topics like: Coaching Expectations and Policies; Coaching responsibilities (on and off the field); Offensive philosophy and any new schemes we’re going to implement; Defensive Philosophy and schemes. NOTE: I have our Defensive Coordinator handle this part of the meeting. It gives me a break and it puts the DC in a realm of authority within the staff. I used to print out all those copies of 10-12 handouts. Last year I figured out: email the handouts to the staff as attachments and let them use their own paper! They only have to make one copy. They bring their sheets to the meeting.

We then cover Important Dates during the summer. Finally, we look at a pre-season roster. It gives us an idea of who’s signed up for football and who are the new guys planning to come out for the team. My closing thoughts this year will be from Nick Saban’s book, How Good Do You Want to Be? He talks about some of the key elements of having a successful program. I’m going to talk briefly about 1- commitment; 2- conviction; 3- character and 4- attitude. Find a coach… find a staff that exhibits these 4 traits in abundance, you’ll find success!

I work to be very organized. This is a hallmark of leadership. Stay on task… stay on time!

Everybody Needs Sympathy and Support

Posted by admin May - 13 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off on Everybody Needs Sympathy and Support

I had an interesting conversation this morning at a church Leadership conference that I attended. The topic was on being a “spiritual father” to younger men. It made me think of my role in my church but, just as importantly, my role as a high school football coach.

The conversation dwelled on the “culture” surrounding those of us who are part of the Baby Boomer generation. How our dads, having come out of the Great Depression and WW II, seemed to feel that the best way to rear their sons was to be as tough and demanding as possible (nothing wrong with that!) but… they never seemed to temper it with any encouragement or affirmation. It was like showing affection would make their son “soft.” On the night that I signed my college football scholarship (one of the proudest moments of my life) the William and Mary coach had left the house and my parents and I were standing around. My dad walked over, placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “Good for you son. I never thought you would do it.” KABOOM!!! Talk about your bubble bursting! But… this was my dad’s way of congratulating me. Unfortunately, some 45 years later, it still stings!

We all need sympathy and support. Why? Because we all stumble and need help getting back up. Sympathy addresses our struggles; support gives us strength to overcome them. Sympathy says, “I know what you’re going through and I’m here for you.” It actually meets an important need: the need to be understood. It’s when life comes crashing in that we need friends the most.

Sympathy shows us there are people who care. Support doesn’t just show us others care— it lifts us up when we can’t do it by ourselves.

I always think of the story in the Bible of when the Israelites went into battle for the first time after miraculously crossing the Red Sea. God told Moses to climb a hill behind the battlefield. “As long as you keep your arms lifted up, I will bless your army with victory, Moses. But, if your arms drop, the enemy will overwhelm the Israelites,” said God. As the battle ensued this proved to be true. The only way Moses was able to keep his arms lifted for any length of time is that 2 of his friends held his arms aloft for him when he couldn’t do it on his own. That is support.

We need to be willing to offer sympathy and support to others and… be willing to accept them in return. That’s teamwork!

“That Ain’t No Deal”

Posted by admin May - 6 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off on “That Ain’t No Deal”

I have a good friend and Brother-in-Christ who just published a book. His son wrote it about his dad. The dad, my friend, was a super successful businessman. He took a fledgling nursery and built it into a multi-million dollar business. He did it the hard way and the right way: He worked hard and treated people the right way.
My friend coined a catchphrase, the title of this entry and the title of his book, that the book states that he never planned to have. It was an accident. The phrase at first sounds like it’s negative, but it’s not negative at all. In fact, it’s an incredibly positive statement. My friend Charlie hates bad deals. In the Introduction, his son Art lays out 3 lessons which not only explain the catchphrase but gives us the essence of how we need to run our “business.”

“Lesson #1: Face the facts. A truly positive outlook, one that is useful and robust, is not a Pollyanna blindness, but rather it acknowledges problems.” I’ve found that optimists don’t ignore problems. What they do is decide that they can be fixed.
The author says, “What is a deal? Everything you do is a trade. You spend time, energy and money to get things or do things. You make deals.
It’s your job, especially if you’re a leader, to turn bad deals, which are everywhere, into good deals.”

“Lesson #2: Conflict is caring. It’s not mean-spirited to point out bad deals when you see them. Confrontation shows you care. It’s a heck of a lot easier to shrug and say, ‘Whatever.'”
Charlie’s catchphrase of “That ain’t no deal” is not an attack. It doesn’t blame. It calls for you to step back and look at things differently. It is provocative (no doubt) but there is a design to Charlie saying it.”

“Lesson #3: Provoke a response. There is a safer way to say, “That ain’t no deal. You’ve heard it before: ‘There has to be a better way.’ The meanings are the same.”
As Charlie points out, though, the problem is that it is
boring. You want to elicit an emotional response from people under you if you want to rouse them to action. This is why motivational talks are so effective. When I was selling life insurance years ago, my sales manager taught me to says things that would cause prospective clients to react emotionally. It was then that people would be moved to sign that insurance application. It is true in anything we do. If you want people to move, you have to motivate them. Sometimes the best way to do that is to deal with an issue is to give them a “shock” to their emotional system. As Art concludes, he says: “Safe words are ineffective words.”

That brings to mind a big game 2 years ago. I was trying to arouse our players before the game. I told them the story of Cortez landing in Mexico with his men. He was determined that they were going to find gold. He was so committed that he left a few men on his ships with blazing torches in hand. As the army landed, Cortez yelled back at the men out in the water: “BURN THE SHIPS!” I guess my delivery was pretty impactful because I heard our players shout it a number of times the rest of that season and the season that just ended. The picture of “you can’t go back… so you better press on toward your goal” was painted in our player’s minds. A provocative catchphrase which resonated in young men’s hearts.