Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Winning the Game. No!…Practice!!!

Posted by admin April - 29 - 2021 - Thursday

I had a great conversation with an old friend (he’s not old… the friendship is “old”; i.e., long-time!) this morning. We discussed LEADERSHIP! He is something of an expert on the subject… having been an outstanding U.S. Naval officer and… he wrote up a paper entitled The 10 Commandments of Leadership. It is excellent! We spent an hour or so discussing those commandments this morning.

There were several important take-aways from our talk but, the one I want to write about here speaks directly to coaches. The question came up as to how do you know you’ve had a winning performance (in a NON-combat situation) in the Navy? Note: My friend commanded a Supply Battalion in Kuwait. I talked about how easy it is in football— you just look at the scoreboard when the game is over. He agreed. But, then he queried, “how do you know that you had a winning performance in practice?” I realized that 4 days of preparation sets the stage for your performance on Friday night. If you can’t measure success for those 4 days, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure on game night!

The KEY is: you set goals and objectives that you want to achieve each day your team and staff take the field… not just Friday. What do you want to accomplish on Monday? Tuesday? etc… At the end of practice, I feel it is important to have a brief staff meeting (it IS high school. No need to stay for 2 hours! You can get done what needs to get done in 20 minutes IF you stay on task) after every practice to evaluate: did you achieve your objectives for that day’s practice? If you did, great. If not… then 1) why didn’t you? and 2) what do you need to do to make sure you achieve them next week?

Any of you who are classroom teachers have been shown a template for developing classroom lesson plans. One of the first things they teach you is to have an objective for that lesson. What holds true in the classroom holds true on the practice field. Effective principles of learning impact any setting where performance/achievement is being measured.

I encourage each of you to take a few of your daily practice schedules from this past season and look back at them. Ask yourself: did we achieve success on that particular Monday… or Tuesday? Why not? Then plan your practice schedules for next season with an objective in mind for each day. You will find that evaluating each day’s performance— not just Friday night!— will improve your team’s game performance. “Practice makes perfect???”””
NO!!! Perfect practice makes perfect!!! How do you know that you are achieving a perfect practice? By being able to measure your success! You do that be setting goals/objectives for each and every time you take the field— game AND practice!

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