Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for December, 2015

Merry Christmas

Posted by admin December - 23 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off on Merry Christmas

What a great holiday! Why… it’s the “most wonderful time of the year!” I rejoice in having family near us. Unfortunately, our son and daughter-in-law won’t be able to get home this year. I’ll miss them. He’s my “bowl-watching buddy” so I’ll have to go it alone this year.

With in-laws and grandchildren, it gets dicey in terms of spending time with everyone. We’re fortunate that our in-laws are actually our next-door neighbors! yes… our daughter literally married the “boy next door!” Makes it convenient for everyone.

I always pause at some point as Christmas Eve night approaches to remember my parents. Christmas Eve became a “big deal” at our house as my sister and I grew older. Mom was a “Christmas junkie” and always “fought” (pestered might be a better word!) dad to let everybody open a “couple of presents” after we got home from Christmas Eve church. He compromised and agreed to let us open one.

Our Christmas Eve dinner became even more of a tradition than our Christmas Day meal. My wife still prepares it and our daughter swears it’s a better meal than turkey and dressing the following day. What is our traditional Christmas Eve dinner? A classic Virginia feast of Smithfield ham biscuits and Brunswick stew (which, by the way, was first served near us in Brunswick County, Virginia… NOT up north!!!) We celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Emmanuel… God with us.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Head Coaching Interviews

Posted by admin December - 18 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off on Head Coaching Interviews

This came up this morning when talking to a young coach who’s getting ready for his first head coach interview… so I wanted to pass it along since some of you may be gearing up for interviews for head coaching positions in the next few weeks yourselves. Some of this is a “repeat” from a previous post but there is something I want to elaborate on here.

My main point when going into an interview is: “It’s not just what you say that counts; how you say it can count even more!” Your non-verbal language carries a lot of weight with an interview committee. You certainly want to be prepared and answer succinctly (don’t try to impress the committee with how much you know.) It’s more important to know when to stop when answering a question. But, your “body language” has a lot of impact on other people.

What I want to stress today, though, is: don’t leave that interview without “interviewing” the interviewers!!! You should have some questions that you need answers to also. I hope you’re not so desperate for a head job that you’ll “grab” at any offer that comes along. You need to “Count the Cost” as the Bible instructs. You do this by asking some key questions of your own. They are:

1- Who runs the weight program?
Now this is a general question that’s designed to find out how the administration feels about off-season training. It also gives you an idea of who’s going to be in charge of your program.

2- Who maintains the fields?
Everybody likes a nice-looking game field; but…. who’s going to maintain it? Fertilization, mowing and general upkeep is a full time job. Then, who’s responsible for painting the game field before home games? If this falls on YOU as the head coach, you’ve got to wonder how much support you’re going to get in other areas of your program too!

3- Who cleans the uniforms?
This is another of those “behind-the-scenes” jobs that can really wear on you as the head coach IF… you are responsible for cleaning uniforms.

4- What about fund-raising?
Another hot button issue that will be a strong indicator of how much the administration really wants the football program to succeed. I was at a school where over the years more and more of the football budget was expected to be raised by the players and coaches themselves— getting out there and selling donuts, gift cards or candles. You need to know beforehand where the administration stands on funding your program.

There you have it. Four key questions that you need answers to before you accept a new head coaching position.

hummmmmm?? This just struck me. You probably want to know about parent support and/or booster club support. Again, who’s controlling your program— YOU or the Booster Club President or Board??!!!

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

State Championship Rings

Posted by admin December - 16 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off on State Championship Rings

I’m in “newly tilled ground” here with this post! After 41 years in high school coaching, a team I coached got to experience getting measured for a State Championship ring! How verrrrrry cool!!! Since this blog is mostly a “mentoring/helping young(er) coaches” site, I thought that someone might need to know how to address this situation… or something similar to it.

First off, (Dads— don’t hate me!, but) I would get your Team Mom and a couple of her assistants to sit in with you. I also asked 4-5 of our seniors to join me when the Josten’s rep visited our school. Think about it: It’s their ring! They should have input on what its design looks like. The adults were there for guidance.

I wanted the moms to temper enthusiasm when it came to picking the bling! Kids haven’t yet learned the “cost” of things. Mom knows what a budget looks like and can curb enthusiasm when the players start asking for 22 carat gold and/or real diamonds! This ain’t the NFL and the parents are going to be the ones paying for the ring!! By the way, the three moms I invited were all moms of seniors who were invited.

I guided” the conversation in terms of some basic things that they’d want on the ring… such as STATE CHAMPIONS prominently displayed plus the name of our school. The adults listened as the guys looked through the Josten’s display case and we helped narrow things down. After 30-40 minutes, we had a consensus of what everyone wanted the ring to look like. Everyone left the meeting happy.

Committees can be very helpful in making decisions that the head coach doesn’t want to make on his own. I think the important things are that everyone needs to know what his/her role is and… WHO is going to be the “final decision maker.” In this case, it was me. But, I thought everyone felt good about our final design because everyone was allowed input.

Head coaches: be willing to listen. Don’t discount anyone’s idea. I think it’s important that people feel like their opinions are listened to. It increases their motivation and commitment level because they’ve invested something into the final decision.

Open Doors- Closed Doors

Posted by admin December - 10 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off on Open Doors- Closed Doors

I just talked with a friend of mine who is a college football coach. A new staff is taking over at his school and he is being let go. He’s been there for quite a while so it will be a very hard move to make… for him and his family.

Anytime we are forced to change location and/or job there is going to be some “cloudiness” out there. “Where do I go?” “What do I do?” I would encourage you to: PRAY FIRST! Before you make any plans, seek God and lay your situation at His feet. Ask Him for direction and guidance. Ask for help— never anything wrong with doing that. As Believers, we don’t have to go it alone. Whether it’s “walking in the Spirit” or simply seeking out a Brother or Sister-in-Christ, you shouldn’t go it alone. God doesn’t like “Lone Ranger” Christians!

Then, begin to praise Him! Yes! For Who He is and what He’s going to do for you! I’m rereading a little book that I bought years ago. It’s entitled There’s Dynamite in Praise by Don Gossett. Pastor Gossett reminded me how essential it is to praise (and thank) God in advance! for what He’s going to do. THAT is showing real faith/trust in His love; His power; His Holy Spirit to lead us where He wants us to go. Psalm 34 says to “praise Him at ALL times!”

So, a “door” opens. How do you know if it’s the one God wants you to go through? You don’t! But…. if you have been praying about this from the beginning and have been praising God for what He’s going to do… unless it is illegal, immoral or harmful, it may be time to step through that door and see what God has in store for you.

The Jeremiah 29 passage is always encouraging when it looks like we’re at a dead end. It may appear that God has forgotten you but He has not. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a great reminder to: “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight!” God will remove the obstacles in your path; open the door to a new adventure and bring you to your appointed goal.

“Last” Football Banquet

Posted by admin December - 2 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off on “Last” Football Banquet

Tonight is going to be bittersweet! We are celebrating our state championship by gathering at school to have our year-end banquet. I’m pretty sure that this (banquets) is one of my 101 Little Things that I discuss in my book by the same name but… I want to reiterate a couple of key points that I, perhaps, did not mention in the book. As most of you know, I announced my retirement from coaching after our last game. So, I will be saying “Goodbye” to all of these fine folks while we celebrate our success!!! (Lump in throat time!)

First: as nice as it seems, do not invite a guest speaker. To get somebody who’s really good usually is going to cost more money than your program/school can afford. To invite a “less-than-professional” speaker is setting yourself up for potential disaster. The biggest thing I’ve found with untrained speakers is: they don’t know how to end their talk. They don’t know when cuz they don’t know how. The bottom line is: people are there to hear about their son or themselves. An outside speaker just adds to the time of the whole event. Spend your time on the kids and giving them the recognition!

Second: Let one of your “Team Moms” handle the logistics. I have been soooo fortunate to have had the best group of ladies helping me all 5 years that I have coached at my current school. They want to help! Just ask them! My “team mom” this year has been fantastic. I turned over the banquet details to her a month ago and she has handled every detail. She runs everything by me first; but, I give her the leeway to be creative and make it an event that is personal (for the team) and creative (table decorations, for example— that I would never think of!) She’s grrrrrrrreat!!!

Third: Make sure you say something nice/positive/encouraging about every player. Never criticize a kid in public… especially with his parents in the room! I have found my remarks about each player to be highly motivating for the individual. There’s got to be something positive you can say about ALL of your players. Get a roster. Write a couple of notes beside each name so you’re not ad-libbing. These positive comments are what people are coming to your banquet to hear.
A little note: “Talk” about the player…
then announce his name! Particularly when handing out your awards. The players (and parents) love to play the “guessing game.” In other words, you’re saying nice things but keeping people in suspense. A “pause for effect” just before announcing the name just builds the anticipation!

Finally: have someone in charge of cleaning up afterwards! I made that mistake one year. My wife and I had to stay back and clean up the mess and re-set tables (we were in the school caferteria) before we could leave because the Custodian had no help. Make sure whoever is in charge knows to get a group to help clean up. You want to be able to go home.