Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for October, 2014

God Can Lift You Up!

Posted by admin October - 29 - 2014 - Wednesday 1 COMMENT

Our pastor is preaching a series of sermons on the topic: Overwhelmed… NO More! One of our church’s core values is: Live FULLY Alive!” It’s based on John 10:10.

I was reading my morning devotion and it struck me how similar the author’s thoughts were to what our pastor is teaching. Here goes:

In order to access electrical power to run a fan, drill or hairdryer, you have to go to the outlet and plug it in to the source of power. That’s what happens when you pray; you plug into God’s power.

Imagine a ship that’s run aground and is stuck on a sand bar. It happens often near where I live. Hatteras Island off the coast of North Carolina is called “the graveyard of ships.” The ship that’s stuck on the bottom can be repaired if it can be towed to a dock. The trouble is, you can’t move it! What’s the solution? Bring in high-powered tugboats, connect cables to the boat and wait for the tide to rise.

When you feel so low that you can’t lift yourself up, tap into God’s power and let Him lift you up to the place where He can repair, restore and recommission you. If you keep that picture in mind, you’ll never think about prayer the same way again! Instead of seeing prayer as an obligation, you’ll start seeing it as an awesome power that works for you in all circumstances.

And, you’ll see reading the Bible in a different light as well. Paul writes, “So now friends, I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up” (Acts 20:32.)

True…. your problems may be great, but the tide of God’s Spirit is greater. If you come to Holy Spirit with your problems, He’ll lift you out of your troubles. NOTE: Will they vanish overnight? Not often. But, you’ll be above them looking down instead of underneath them looking up! At that point you’ll be operating from a position of faith instead of a position of fear. It can happen for you. God can and will lift you up: “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23.)


Posted by admin October - 22 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off on Poise

I have pointed out on this website in the past that part of our job as high school football coaches is to build character as well as win football games. I think you’re doing your players a disservice if you are not in the business of helping them to grow as young men as well as developing their athletic skills.

One of the things that I do to promote character building is to post a “Word of the Week.” We discuss this word throughout the week and then tie it in to what’s going to happen on the field to conclude the week’s discussion. Unfortunately, I waited one week too long before I talked about poise.

The guys gave me some good definitions/explanations of what they thought poise was when I first opened the discussion the other day. I called upon one of our seniors to give his description. As I quizzed him and helped him to dig a little further to describe poise, it became evident to the rest of the team why I was giving this player the “third degree.” You see, it was because he got ejected from the game last Friday night… for retaliating! The ref saw him throw a punch at the offensive lineman pass blocking him and immediately ejected him. It was in the first half so he missed the rest of his Homecoming game and now he must sit this week too… which is Senior Night. To say that he was chagrined is putting it mildly.

I do two things throughout the season to promote poise. One is staged and the other is sneaky. I tell the players that we have a “Walk away drill.” I tell them in advance that I’m going to (at some point when they least expect it!) sneak up behind them and give them a shove in the back. I then watch to see how they react. Needless to say, in some cases, I had to be prepared to defend myself against a swing coming around as the player turned! Others, just turn and smile at me. I want to see what their reaction is to getting a “cheap shot” in the back. When they spin around and see it’s me, the look on some faces is priceless.

The other activity is I tell 2 players who are good friends to stage a fake fight on the practice field… right in front of the rest of the team. It’s best during a water break cuz everyone is standing around and is caught off guard by the ruckus breaking out near them. The point is to teach them to stay away from jumping in and “rescuing” or supporting their buddy. In our state, when a fight breaks out on the field our players are instructed to get away from it. The officials don’t even allow the coaches on the field. We have to demonstrate this to our players so they know to get away. Any player caught “getting in the middle” of a fight— whether he was trying to break it up or not— is subject to ejection.

I just wish I’d done this all last week. Maybe it wouldn’t kept this senior from losing his poise. Maybe this can help prevent an ejection on your team.

The TRUTH About Success

Posted by admin October - 15 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off on The TRUTH About Success

Sorry for those of you who check weekly. I had a mixup with my domain provider last week and I had problems renewing. We’re back up and raring to go!

I uncovered something on my desk this morning that I’d been saving. It was in my “football stack” and when I saw it, I had an ah ha! moment. I can’t draw the picture that is on the piece of paper, but… I’ll try to describe it.

The truth about success is: “Success is like an iceberg.”

Imagine a picture of an iceberg on a piece of notebook paper. People see THIS: and THIS would be a verrrrrrrrrrrry small portion of the iceberg protruding out of the water. It’s jagged edges and frozen peaks appear ominous. But… though it may be 20-30 feet high (think movie, Titanic, what you SEE is not necessarily what you get!!!

If you recall the sinking of the Titanic, the look-outs saw the “visible” iceberg strike the side of the huge ship and concluded that they were ok cuz it just grazed the side of the ship. However, they did not see nor did they know what was going on below the water!

That’s what my picture depicts so well. What really happens when it comes to the TRUTH about success is: what goes on beneath the surface!!!

If you haven’t seen a photo of a real iceberg, suffice it to say… there’s a LOT more there than meets the eye! A typical large iceberg (that one that hit the Titanic) usually goes down in the water for several hundred feet!!! Much more is under the surface than what you see above the water line.

So it is with success!!! There are factors that go into “success” (winning on Friday night; getting that big contract at work; that special moment when she says “yes!”) that we just don’t see. Such things as: taking risks, focusing on the details, setting lofty goals, persistence, overcoming failures, sacrifice and just plain hard work are all factors in experiencing success.

The TRUTH about success is: we often view just the “finished product!” We exclaim, “Wow! Another overnight success story.” When in reality, that person has been struggling for years to achieve success. Those people did the things that people didn’t “see” beneath the surface.

One of my favorite sports stories from my youth is the account of Jerry Lucas. Lucas was an all-american basketball player at Ohio State and went on to an all-pro career in the NBA. The thing about Lucas that got my attention was that when he was growing up in Ohio, it snowed a lot. Lucas had a basketball goal in his backyard. Even if it had snowed, he swept the court and continued to shoot 1000 jump shots every day. Oftentimes, he’d be late for supper cuz he was still in the backyard shooting jumpers after it was dark.

Lucas,thus, springs on the scene in high school and everybody raved about this prodigy. Little did they know about the countless hours spent on that backyard court shooting every day… snow on the ground and late at night. The TRUTH about Jerry Lucas’ success was “unseen” (under the surface of the water). The sacrifice, the hard work, the persistence carried him to tremendous success in his field.

I’ll conclude with a quote from the newspaper this morning. My old coach Lou Holtz was commenting about the success he had while at Notre Dame. The article was about ND’s failure to upend a number 1 team in the past 20 years. (They face Florida State this weekend, by the way!) The article said that Holtz told the writer that he was so successful against ranked opponents because he set high expectations. Holtz said: “It’s not rocket science. It isn’t about the coaches. Give your players something they can do and demand they do it. That’s all.”

I am working on getting our defensive players to be more aggressive and run to the football. We’ve lost our edge on defense. Sooooo… the thing I’ve given them that they can do (Coach Holtz’s mandate) is: we’re all going to pursue to the football and we are going to gang tackle— and it starts in practice. IF… they don’t do it (cuz I know they CAN!) the penalty is a few up/downs to “remind” them that they are expected to pursue and gang tackle. We can’t have one guy making a tackle while the other 10 gear down and watch!!! We’re going to demand that they do it. The reward will come on Friday night when we get back to dominating an opponent’s running game.

The truth about success lies under the surface… behind the scenes. As I’ve heard all my life: If winning was easy, then everybody would be a winner!

Speak Life

Posted by admin October - 1 - 2014 - Wednesday 1 COMMENT

Sooooooooooo… we had 2 more starters go out with a serious injury during Friday’s game. To add “injury to insult” we also got crushed 61-6! One of the worst losses I’ve suffered in my career. To say that I was down this weekend is putting it mildly. Our kids made a HUGE mental error on our first drive. At our opponent’s 6 yard line, the qb called a pass instead of the fullback iso I wanted; it was picked off and 94 yards later, they were winning 6-0. It went downhill from there. The mercy rule/running clock was the only thing that saved us in the second half. It was over fast and we got to go home early.

After I got over being angry, I had to spend some time with God. I was able to finally ask Him: “What are You teaching me in this, Lord?”

We now have 9 starters who are out for a lengthy period with injuries ranging from a pulled hamstring to torn ACL. These are tough kids so nobody is “faking.” They are legitimate injuries. We’ve been bitten by the “injury bug” and can’t seem to shake it.

I gave them Monday off. This is our bye week so I told them just to “get away” from football. We came back together yesterday and had a light practice for 90 minutes. But… before we went out, I met with the team. I could tell that they were waiting to see how I was going to be acting and what I was going to say!!!

Fortunately, after praying, talking with my wife and meeting with a good Christian Brother, I was able to stand in front of those boys and tell them: “The Bible says (Phil. 3:13) to ‘forget what is past. Press on toward the goal!’ and.. that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Friday is over and gone. Let’s get that bad taste out of our mouths. So, dry hock that bad taste and spit it out! Now… our (new) 2014 season begins today! We are 0-0. We have 4 games in this season. This week is pre-season. We’re going to work on fundamentals then on Monday we’ll begin preparation for our opening game. Is everybody ready??!!! Let’s go!” And off we went to the practice field.

I wanted to “Speak Life” into those guy’s hearts. Put the past behind us and press on. We have 4 games left and we can win all of them. It’s not going to be easy because of those injuries but… we’re going to work hard and have a great attitude.

Our coaches do a good job of being positive; I have to work on that. We have some fragile ego’s right now. I need to build them up, not tear them down.

Sooooooooooooo… what is God teaching me in all of this? I think I know! That no matter the circumstances, God is with me; God is FOR me (yep! even in the losing!) and… He will never leave me nor forsake me. He is in control of everything. Jesus wants us to become more like Him. That means that we have to go through the same suffering that He did. What does He want to build up in us? Character.