Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for October, 2015


Posted by admin October - 21 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off on “Woodlawn”

Our Team Moms paid for our players and coaches to go see the new football movie, Woodlawn, last night!!! WOW!!! Reminiscent of the theme of Remember The Titans, this movie explored the racial tension in Alabama in the early ’70’s and how a Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader came into the turmoil and brought about reconciliation and transformation on the team, in the school, and throughout the city of Birmingham, AL. The football footage is very good and the portrayal of former University of Alabama (and NFL stars) Tony Nathan and Jeff Rutledge is well-done.

It brought back memories for this Old Ball Coach and my early days in coaching. I started my coaching career as an assistant coach in 1971. Though our part of Virginia had desegregated in the mid 60’s, there were still the issues involved in two separate groups of people coming together to form a cohesive unit. Our staff did a good job of melding the two and by 1975, we had a formidable team. Not to say that there weren’t problems but… I’ve always felt that the military and sports teams have always “led the way” in bringing people together. Why? Because positions are earned by your performance on the field. Secondly, because teamwork, loyalty and unity are hallmarks of successful teams.

These qualities are still evident today in well-run organizations. When players understand that the best man is going to play and that cooperation, hustle and loyalty are expected— NO… demanded!— kids will respond. It’s the parent who thinks that his participation in the game-field Paint Crew or being president of the Booster’s Club is going to get his son special privileges… he’s the one creating problems.

This is why it is so important, head coaches, to have a detailed “Player/Parent Policy Sheet” (check out my book!) that explains how you’re going to conduct your program. When situations come up (and they will!), you have it written down. If you don’t have a preseason parent meeting now, you need to have one before you start your next season.


Posted by admin October - 16 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off on Homecoming!

Homecoming, 2015! I’ve been leading teams into their Homecoming game since 1985! Let me share a couple of ideas that have helped us stay focused during the week and have ultimately led to a record of 23-3 in Homecoming games!
First off, you don’t need to schedule a patsy! You don’t want the toughest team on your schedule either! But… meeting with your AD and/or principal and explaining the benefits of winning Homecoming can help you in scheduling that ONE team that you have a good chance of defeating and… keeping your players focused on Friday night.

I tell them on Monday that it’s going to be an exciting week— lots of things going on that can take them away from preparing properly! It is the TEAM’S job to: prepare and WIN the football game!!! It is the rest of the student body’s job to prepare for the parade, dance, festivities, etc. I am pretty specific about keeping them away from all of that! Before I passed this edict, I had players who were staying up past midnight all week working on their club or class float. I shut that down pretty quick! The Homecoming pep rally must be attended and, in some cases, participation by the players is required. We sit together and I do NOT let them get all hyped up and jumping around! They sit there quietly and enjoy the fun. Adrenaline is a funny thing! If it spikes on Friday morning, a player will feel like they’re dragging for the rest of the day. When it’s time to get “pumped up” at gametime, they may be flat! Why? Lack of that adrenaline boost! Enjoy the pep rally but don’t go overboard in emotional outbursts!

During the week, I emphasize (particularly on Thursday) the importance of this game to our seniors! I look them square in the eye and tell them that THIS is the game they will talk about for the next 25 years! We’ve talked this week about carpe diem— Seize the Day! They only get ONE chance to play this game… don’t leave anything on the field. It’s interesting but, this generation of youth is what I call the “Do Over” generation! They are so geared to the false reality of video games that they think that there is a “do over” button in life… just like there is for their video games. It tends to create an attitude of “I don’t have to worry!” A little bit of fear can stir emotions and that’s what you want: an emotional reaction just before the game!

Just some thoughts. They’ve served us well over the years— just wanted to share another of our “Little Things That Can Make A BIG Difference!”

“Roller Coaster Ride” Season

Posted by admin October - 5 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off on “Roller Coaster Ride” Season

Football is unique in that you only play once a week— unlike other sports where 3-5 games a week can be the norm. So, in my mind, it’s easier to “see” the up’s and down’s (the Roller Coaster Ride) that can occur in football. Lemme ‘splane. (Princess Bride fans get that!!!)

Our season opened with a big win against a competitive team. We were flying high. The next game was against a school that’s much bigger (student population-wise) than ours and… we didn’t execute on defense (forgot to cover their star RB on several swing passes!) and our offense couldn’t do much against a bigger, stronger defensive front. We got knocked around pretty good. So, we’re 1-1.

The next 2 weeks we blow out two pretty weak opponents so we’ve got a win streak going. Then, as I published in my last entry, we faced one of our biggest rivals and conference foes. They outweighed us upwards to 100 pounds a man across the front. Our O line controlled them by staying around their knee caps all night and we beat them going away by 3 td’s! It was a great night! One of my favoritest! wins in my 5 years at my current school!!! sooooooo… huge win; 3 game winning streak; most everyone’s healthy (we lost an offensive guard who is a very good player with a knee injury for 4-6 weeks) and we’re riding high! Perhaps, too high!

We’ve flirted with the hurricane this past week and had to deal with some heavy rain— not like in SC however! My prayers go out to those folks. We had, what I thought, were 3 good practices. The school we were playing suggested that we play on Thursday instead of Friday to “beat the storm.” So we drove 3 hours to Charlottesville to play a day early.

We underestimated them, I believe, and we were still enjoying the taste of victory from the week before. At any rate, we weren’t ready to play and, as the saying goes, they “took us to the woodshed.” It was very frustrating. A lackluster performance against a quality team.

My point of this entry is: we warned the players all week! “Don’t be overconfident/cocky! This is a good football team we’re playing this week!” “Don’t let this be a trap game!” “Focus on getting better and doing your job.” It wasn’t like the coaches eased off and didn’t push them for the 3 days that we practiced. I find it very frustrating that it all seemed to “go in one ear and out the other!”

Motivation and persuation… interesting topics. It’s times like this that I wonder how much effect our words actually have on others— in this case, a high school football player’s mind. I know from reading and studying psychology that you have to create an emotional state to produce an emotional response. I just hate to “manipulate” our players. We were honest all week and worked hard. We showed them our opponent’s capabilities on video and properly prepared them. I say that and then realize… I guess we didn’t properly prepare them because they weren’t ready to play.

We need to find that “even keel” so we don’t get too high nor too low. We have an open week this week then… next week is Homecoming against another of our biggest rivals! I’m confident that everyone will be “up” for this one!!! The “roller coaster” starts back UP again!!!