Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Keeping the “Main Thing” the main thing!

Posted by admin June - 12 - 2021 - Saturday

I have been mentoring a young coach who just got a head coaching job. We’ve been kicking around ideas about Offense and Defense a lot. However, he brought up something the other day that I want to comment on in this post.

He was getting ready to lead his first (full) staff meeting this week. He’s a smart guy so he already had some ideas about what he wanted to cover. I appreciate him because he’s always got a “teachable spirit.” He wanted to know what I thought he should address. I told him that “what you emphasize, you will achieve! Sooooooo… make sure that the first subject you cover with your coaches is the one that you want to resonate with them. “Coach, make sure that you 1) know what your “Main Thing” is! and then 2) continue to KEEP the “Main Thing” the main thing! If it’s important enough to bring up first in your initial meeting… then you need to continue to bring it up.” In Behavioral Psychology terminology, it’s called REINFORCEMENT. I think we all know what “enforcement” means. Keep in mind that the prefix “re” means to repeat the enforcement…. over and over and over and over again…. !!!

I shared with him that MY “Main Thing” was LOYALTY. For the 30 years that I was a HC, the first item of business on my agenda for our initial staff meeting was to review my Staff Expectations. The first (and therefore, most important) expectation was LOYALTY. Loyalty to me as the head coach; loyalty to our team and loyalty to our school and community. Why is loyalty so important? First off, if everyone is not on the same page, an organization is not likely to achieve great results. As the U. of Minnesota coach would say, “Oars in the water and we all row together!” As a HC, you need to know that your staff “has your back.” Being loyal means “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance…” I think it’s an off-shoot of UNITY. I had to dismiss an assistant coach once for disloyalty and another time had to dismiss a player (a starter) for spreading dis-unity. It was amazing how the team “came together” after each of these instances. As the leader, the people who work for you need to know that if you say it… then it will be enforced. (there’s that word again!) I think that the healthy response after I dismissed people was, in part, due to the fact that the team realized that “Coach J wasn’t just “blowing smoke.” I meant what I said.

Then… once you present it as a KEY element in your program’s philosophy, you’ve got to remind people of its importance. It’s why I made a BIG poster each year and posted our Team Goals on it. It hung right over the white board in our locker room. There were many team meetings that included a 1-2 minute rehash of what our goals were. Keep the “Main Thing” the main thing! Repeat… repeat… repeat!

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