Learning How to Compete

With the 2014 season under our belts, everyone is now headed into, or already deep into their off-season programs.

One of the best things that we ever did as part of our off-season program was to incorporate weekly, team competitions in our workouts. This was not an original idea of mine, but we did add some unique elements to the concept.

The first thing we did each year was to divide our returning squad members (anyone who was planning on being part of our upcoming season) into 11 teams. We selected the teams by appointing 11 seniors as captains and holding a draft, with each captain selecting their squad. The draft was only open to these 11 seniors, so no one else knew the discussions about, or order in which squad members were picked.   This draft became a much-anticipated event, with the seniors putting a lot of thought into their selections.

After the teams were picked and posted, we revealed (sort of) the competitions for each week. I say “sort of” because we did not let them know exactly what they would be doing, the rules, or criteria for winning until that weeks contest. For instance, the name for one of our contest was “War Games”… which was a tug of war tournament between all of the teams… but up until that week there was all kinds of speculation as to what the competition might be!

 

tugWe incorporated many aspects of “team” and character into our weekly competitions… trying to get our players to compete in many areas that would make them a better student-athlete… they were not limited to just strength and conditioning. Here are some things we had the teams compete for:

  • Best attendance for the week (school)
  • Best attendance for the week (weight room)
  • Tug of war
  • Last Man Standing (holding a 25 lb plate at arms length)
  • Most Breaks (increasing their estimated 1RM) in a week
  • Best attendance at a girl’s basketball game
  • 2 Men Enter (try to pull the flag in the sock of the opponent in a 5 yd x 5 yd square)
  • Highest Average Pound for Pound Ratio
  • Highest Average Power Quotient
  • Most team members that finished the squad reading assignment (That First Season, by John Eisenberg)
  • Obstacle Course (included carrying a 45 pound plate, flipping tractor tire, driving sled, and sprinting)
  • Highest average GPA for that quarter

Each week the team would get points for their finishing rank (1st=1 point, 2nd=2 points, etc) and at the end of our winter/ spring strength and conditioning sessions, the team with the fewest points was crowned the winner. Each member of the winning team received one helmet reward decal prior to the first game of the following season.

The contests were always fun and spirited, and each week we saw new leaders emerge… and they were not always the “official” captains. Players would encourage, hold each other accountable, and be held accountable for these wide array of items.   It was always interesting, too, to see how the captains picked their respective teams each year… knowing the strengths that were needed to succeed in this competition.

This concept had positive effects on a number of levels. There is definitely a team building/ bonding aspect to it. Our athletes got used to holding teammates accountable, and being held accountable. It helped develop and expose leaders and teach leadership. These competitions also helped our student-athletes learn how to compete, and emphasized a number of character related qualities with them.

As an added bonus, our administration loved it because we were measuring and talking about things like attendance, academics, and reading with our athletes.

As I mentioned, this was not an original idea (like most good things that we did) but was one that we added to each year to help make our off-season program a little more competitive and fun.

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Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

 

 

The Gift

It is the season of giving.

Here is a gift that costs nothing and will lift the spirits of both you and the recipient.

Try this… tomorrow tell someone…. many people in fact… that they “did a good job.”  

Tell your students, colleagues, custodians, administrators, etc.

Here are some things to consider as you begin your gift-giving extravaganza.

The sentiment has to be sincere… insincerity is obvious and will turn your “gift” into a negative.

All your accolades don’t need to be the same, or given for the same reason.

  • “Good job in PE class today”
  • “I appreciate you dressing out and participating today”
  • “Good effort on your hang clean today”
  • “Thanks for listening while I was explaining the lift today”
  • “Good job of spotting today… it is an important job”
  • “Thanks for helping to clean the table today”
  • “Good hustle last night during your game”

gift givingProbably the most important consideration is this: It doesn’t need to be a “Great job” you are commenting on… just a good job. Those doing great jobs are probably already getting recognition for their accomplishments. If you wait to only “give” the gift of “good job” to those doing a GREAT job, you have limited the amount of recipients. Give this gift… give it freely.

Find the person that is flying under the radar, and make their day.

We are all busy… every minute of the day filled. Here are some great times to give your gift.

  • Before school as the students enter the building
  • During passing time
  • In the cafeteria during lunch
  • In another teacher’s classroom
  • It does not have to be a scripted 20-minute oratory… just a simple “good job”.

Try it… tomorrow. For increased value, add a fist bump!

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Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

 

Superfans?

This time of year I get to watch a lot of football games. I am about to go into a rant here, and it may offend some people, but hey, as they say, “I have the chalk.”

Something struck me recently after observing the fans in action live, during a college game, and then watching the TV coverage during a professional game.   When did the concept of being a “good” fan or a “super” fan change? When did the definition of a fan change from “one who goes to the game, cheers for their team, and focuses their attention on the athletes competing”, to “one who goes to the game and tries to draw attention to themselves”?

raiders costumeThe amount of inane antics and silly costumes worn by “superfans” is ridiculous. It really has become all about “hey, look at me” and very little about the competition or the competitors.   Just Google the term “superfan” and see what you get.

Give me the loyal fans who know the athletes names and positions, are intent on being entertained by the action on the field, know when to cheer (or boo) and are doing so to help further the cause of the competitors doing battle… for their team… for their city… or school.

I don’t need or want to be entertained by someone dressed up in a Darth Vader costume with their team’s logo on it…. and I don’t buy the concept that by doing so, they somehow “care” more.

I really don’t want to be distracted from the game that I love.

truman tossI love watching the athletes compete. I love watching the strategy of the coaches unfold. I love the great plays… the great hits… the great catches… the great runs.

For me, that is entertainment enough.

I guess that I am just not a “superfan”

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

 

Self Actualized People Need Love, Too!

A few nights ago, I was having a conversation with my wife about motivating team members. She was talking about her team, a sales force of about 25-30 people, and what motivates them. Her conclusion was that, yes, while money (a bonus for reaching a goal) is a factor, often, just recognition for doing good work is motivating in-and-of itself…without the money attached to it.

I asked if the same was true for people in her position, at her level, and she said that,

“Yes, it was true, but the recognition didn’t happen that often… probably because most of the people at her level in the company are pretty self-actualized, and didn’t need to be stroked to perform well.”

My response, jokingly, was that “self-actualized people need love, too!”

I was joking, then after thinking about it for a minute, wrote that phrase (self-actualized people need love, too!) on the chalkboard in our home… the place where I put my ideas for blog posts.

pyramidWe all have these people (assistant coaches and players) in our programs… the people that fly under the radar… that can handle things well…. that are self-starters and self-motivated… that don’t demand a lot of attention… and that consistently perform above expectations.

It is easy to fall into the habit of expending large chunks of your energy dealing with the “needy” folks in your program… knowing that the above mentioned group will be “just fine” because they are self-actualized, self-starters, or self-motivated. And, they will be “just fine”… but probably could be better… maybe even “really good” or “really great” with a few simple, kind words of appreciation and recognition for doing good work.

It really is an easy thing to do that does not take a lot of time or effort or money…. Who are those people in your program, and how can you recognize them?

I can do much better in this area…

I Can Do More!

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Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

The Playoffs

‘Tis the season… everyone this time of year… from the FBS level to high school class 1A… is talking about the playoffs. It is, without a doubt, exciting.

But consider the flip side for a moment. The very nature of the system dictates that at each one of these levels there is but one winner. Which means, conversely, that at every level of play, every team with the exception of one ends their season with a loss.   So, for instance, at the 4A level in Missouri 63 teams will finish their year on a losing note.

Anguish

I had the opportunity to witness this first hand last Friday in Osceola, Missouri at the conclusion of their District Championship game against Skyline. I have been a part of this season ending ritual, as a player, as a parent, and as a coach, but I have never had the chance to sit back and observe all of this unfold like I did last Friday.

Skyline won a hard fought battle, ending Osceola’s outstanding (11-2) season. The utter joy of Skyline’s players, coaches and fans (they were on the flip side of this outcome last year) was in stark contrast to the sadness of the Osceola faithful.

I observed as the coaches choked back tears, trying to find the words to console their players, while needing consolation themselves. Senior players who suddenly realized their high school careers were over were distraught.   Parents vocalized how they were not ready for this part of their family’s life to be finished. It was just unbelievably sad.

And this scene was played out at literally hundreds of locations all across Missouri … and thousands across the country… the last few weeks. And it will be replayed again and again until we crown that one single champion in each bracket.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for an “everyone gets a medal and a hug” system. There is value in competing for a championship, lessons to be learned, and memories cherished while traversing that road… both great joy and bitter sadness.

And years from now, even the sad memories of a season hard fought, and a losing battle well waged are good memories.

I speak from experience… this is my son, Carter, and me after his season ending playoff loss his senior year in high school.   I still cherish that moment in time.

Carter and Dad

Best of luck to all of the teams still battling for championships!

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Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Spotlight Update – Alexis Hart

One of the very first athletes I ever put “in the spotlight” on this blog was Alexis Hart, a three sport athlete from Truman High School, in Independence, Missouri.

This was the post from her Freshman year, which included her workout card and some video.

In the Spotlight – Alexis Hart

And this was an update after she set the school records in the Triple Jump her sophomore season.  She ended up winning the State Long Jump that year.

Spotlight Update – Alexis Hart

Lexi is now a Junior and just completed her volleyball season.  Just today she was awarded the Evelyn Gates award given to the outstanding volleyball player in the Kansas City Metro area.

There is no more well deserving athlete.  She is an excellent role model for young women athletes everywhere.  I use Lexi as an example in my strength and conditioning classes as to how ALL athletes should train… both women and men.

IMG_5057

 

Congratulations Lexi… and thanks for again proving that Hard Work Pays Off!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

 

Deja Vu

A year ago at this time I was making plans to travel south to Osceola, Missouri, to watch a Missouri Class 1A, Playoff game which pitted the visiting Skyline Tigers against the Osceola Indians. You see, Osceola was my first head-coaching job, Paul Carney (the head coach at Osceola) was my starting QB and Brandon Shelby (the head coach at Skyline) was in junior high and was my manager for that squad. In a tight contest, Osceola prevailed in 2013. I wrote about that game in my post, Your Best Work.

osceola logoskyline logoFast forward to this Friday. The same two teams, led by the same two coaches, meet again for the Missouri 1A, District 4 Championship.   Beyond my immediate connection to these teams and coaches, this game has a number of interesting story lines…. Here are a few… pick one.

Will the Student Become the Teacher?

As I mentioned, Paul Carney was the QB for the Osceola squad in the mid 80’s. He was a two time All State performer, and led the team to two conference championships and two playoff berths. Brandon Shelby (aka Dudley) was the manager of those squads. By his own admission, he idolized Paul, and when he got to High School, became the starting QB, an All State performer, and led the team to not only a playoff berth but also a playoff win. Who will be the Teacher and who will be the Student? I think both Paul and Brandon would consider each other colleagues and friends.

Parallel Paths

  • Both Paul Carney and Brandon Shelby played quarterback for Osceola High School… actually they were both three sport athletes… Paul starred in football, basketball and track, while Brandon was a standout athlete in football, basketball and baseball.
  • Both athletes led their teams to conference football championships, and Missouri State playoff berths.
  • Both Paul and Brandon were named to the Missouri All State team.
  • Both student-athletes attended Missouri State University and had stellar careers… Paul in football and Brandon in baseball.
  • Both decided to go into teaching and coaching.
  • Both have made the choice to coach football at a 1A school in Southwest Missouri.

Hometown Boys Make Good!

“Carney” and “Shelby” are household names in Osceola. Both Coach Carney and Coach Shelby have had outstanding playing and coaching careers. Paul recently recorded his 100th victory, and both he and Coach Shelby have garnered Coach of the Year honors. They both are very well respected coaches that lead a couple of the top 1A programs in the State. Their respective squads playing for the District Championship in their hometown for two consecutive years is a reflection of their work in the Missouri public education system.

Déjà vu – 2013

This game is a repeat of the 2013 tilt, which pitted these two teams (which I believe had the exact same records as this year) and coaches against one another at Osceola last year. Many of the same starters remain from the 2013 contest that saw Osceola edging Skyline 24-20 for the win. Osceola went on to defeat a strong Cass-Midway team 7-6 before falling to eventual State Champion, Ste. Genevieve Valle Catholic High School 35-11.

1A Football Overlooked

1A football often draws the short straw when it comes to football coverage in Missouri. At one point, the MSHSAA even held the 1A state championship game at a different (lesser) site than the big boys.

There are some very, VERY good 1A football programs in Missouri, and very good small school football being played all across the country. Osceola, Skyline, Cass-Midway, Valle Catholic, Penney, Marceline, West Platte, Plattesburg, South Shelby, Milan….and more. These teams are well coached and talented… every year. They are fun to watch.

There is a different feel to the games…. Hometowns, downtowns, rivalries, watching the game from your pickup truck bed, real grass fields, players going both ways, loyalty, tradition, history, and geography.

Two Former All-State QB’s are Mentoring the New Breed

Paul Carney and Brandon Shelby were both All-State quarterbacks in high school. It is no surprise that both coaches are now tutoring two of the top QB’s in Southwest Missouri, Junior Dylan Mountain at Skyline and Senior Driston Self at Osceola. Both have put up gaudy numbers over the last two years, doing damage with both their feet and arms. Both QB’s are talented, and both Coach Shelby and Coach Carney have their triggermen in offensive systems than can showcase their talent.

The Real Storyline is simply this….

These are two very talented football teams, coached by two of the finest men I know, meeting for the Missouri 1A District 4 championship… This is a game worth going to, covering, and reading about

Here is an excellent preview of the game from the OzarkSportsZone

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Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

“Back in my day…”

Last Saturday as I pulled out my phone to help guide me to a location I was not quite sure of, my thoughts drifted back to my early days recruiting at the University of Central Missouri, and how much technology has impacted that job. I have written at length regarding how technology has changed various aspects of our profession… game planning, practice planning, video evaluation, etc.   Many things we take for granted today that make our lives (and jobs) easier were not available in 1987 when our staff hit the recruiting trail.

OK, I have become that guy… “back in my day we had to walk to school every day, uphill both ways in a blizzard”… I have become that coach… “back in my day we didn’t have no stinkn’ Google Maps”.

Here are a few of the changes:

phone boothCell phones? We didn’t have them… In order to contact a coach (or a prospect) while on the road you became an expert at where the payphones were located… and not just any old payphones, but the kind you could drive up to and call from you car. It was frustrating… you could not retry the number every 5 minutes from your Bluetooth enabled smartphone while driving. You had to pull off the road, find a phone, look up the number on a printed contact sheet and hope that they were available.

Google Maps? Nope…. there was no pleasant voice giving us turn-by-turn directions as we drove. We usually had either a Mapco street guide (a huge book with about 100 different maps of about 3-4 city block on each page), or a giant folding map of the city. Both were cumbersome and impossible to use while driving. You had to figure out your best routes the night before and hope that the map was not dated too badly.

Hudl recruiting packages? Nada… Remember VHS tapes? We tried to get 2-3 game tapes for each athlete that we wanted to evaluate. Multiply that by 4-5 schools a day, and 3-4 days per week, and we came home each recruiting trip with easily 40-50 videotapes. With 6 or more of us on the road, the process of copying the tapes was a never-ending job for the people back in the office.

The NCAA Clearinghouse? HA… It wasn’t in place in the 80’s. At that time, each school certified their own athletes regarding eligibility… meaning, that for each prospect we were recruiting we had to obtain (from the counselor) a transcript for each student, and a list of core courses for that school. We then had to calculate each student’s Core GPA to determine their eligibility.

And there is much more… text messaging, email blasts, Facebook, twitter feeds… on and on. But my wife reminded me of an accompanying truth – Being teachers and coaches, as each new technological breakthrough brings us a few extra minutes or hours, we just invest that time in another aspect of our job… it is what we do… we will not ever have “spare” time. I am not complaining… I am chuckling!

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Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

Royal Lessons

royalsOK… I am not a baseball expert, but I am a fan. I am hopping directly and unapologetically on the Royals bandwagon.

I think there are many lessons that coaches and players can learn from this 2014 Kansas City squad and this Royals organization that can be transferred to other sports.

Here is my list:

Turnarounds take time

Turning around a struggling program takes time… maybe not 29 years, but time. It is hard work, and typically takes “buy-in” by everyone from management (administration) and coaches, to players and community…. and…

See post Beyond Moral Victories

They had a plan and stuck to it

They had a philosophy, and keeping with that philosophy drafted and traded accordingly. They did not go looking for a “quick fix”, instead opting to take “long way” as the only real shortcut.

See posts What is your “Elevator Speech” and A Guaranteed Shortcut

Money is not everything-Budget

The Royals are not in a “major market”… their payroll ranks 19th out of the 30 teams in MLB…. actually less then half of each of the top three clubs. I know it is easy to get caught up in the “we don’t have the budget (facilities, staff, etc) of the cross town school.” As a Coach, there are many things that we can do to improve our program that cost nothing… except effort.

See post Don’t Spend-Invest

Coaching

Despite his leading the team to their first winning season in 10 years (in 2013) and taking them to the playoffs this season, many “fans” and “experts” have questioned manager Ned Yost over the last four years during his stint as Royals manager. I have heard people say that the Royals are winning despite Yost rather than because of him. As I said, I am no baseball expert, but any time people…. fans… question coaching I bristle a bit. The “fans” or “experts” have no idea what happens on a daily basis… in the clubhouse, on the practice field, in the batting cage, or with the players physically or mentally. The coaches do. They are professionals that are making decisions based on everything they know and observe. An outsider has no idea. The proof is in the pudding.

See Post The Courage to Compete

That what Speed Do!

It has been a common theme among football coaches that “speed kills” and “you can’t coach speed”, but for it to be an important aspect and consideration for a baseball squad… on par with hitting and pitching… is a relatively new revelation. I think in most sports, speed and quickness… and developing it as much as possible… will help your team’s performance.

See Post In the Spotlight – Roy Bay

Confidence

I remember around the middle of the season, a member of the Cleveland ball club was talking about the Royals… he said, “They don’t realize how good they are… I hope they never do”. Ned Yost said that during the comeback in the Wild Card game, the players were pacing in the dugout, confident and enthusiastic that they would win.   That feeling has not ebbed since…. and it is reflected in their play.

See Post Confident vs Cocky

Defense

The old adage in football is that “Defense Wins Championships”. The Royals are proving that this maxim applies to baseball as well. While many team’s evening highlights display home runs and extra base hits, the Royals’ reel is riddled with great defensive plays.

See Post Dirty Red

Team Players

The Royals are unselfish. They bunt… they will swing to protect a runner…. they sacrifice to advance a runner. They understand and welcome when they are taken out for a pinch runner… Whatever will put the TEAM in a winning position is OK. It is evident that they respect one another… and

They Have Fun!

I have never been around a great team that did not enjoy and have a special bond with their teammates. It is a chemistry that develops from mutual sacrifice… the mutual shedding of blood, sweat, and tears.

See Post True Team Building

Many Lessons! Go Royals!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

 

Two Lists

Seth Godin is a writer that I read and learn from daily. Although Godin is not a coach in the strict sense of the word, his writing often resonates with me. He recently added this post:

Make Two Lists… One list highlights the lucky breaks, the advantages, the good feedback, your trusted network. It talks about the accident of being born in the right time and the right place, your health, your freedom. It features your education, your connection to the marketplace and just about every nice thing someone has said about you in the last week or month.

The other list is the flipside. It contains the obstacles you’ve got to deal with regularly, the defects in your family situation, the criticisms your work has received lately. It is a list of people who have better luck than you and moments you’ve been shafted and misunderstood.

The thing is, at every juncture, during every crisis, in every moment of doubt, you have a choice. You will pull out one (virtual) list or the other. You’ll read and reread it, and rely on it to decide how to proceed.

Up to you.

As coaches, we are in the spotlight (or crosshairs) daily. Our teaching skills are evaluated each Friday night… we put our product out there for everyone to see. We are vulnerable.

listlistI know I can come up with numerous items for each of these two virtual lists… I think we all probably can. It is sometimes easy to fall into the trap of wallowing in the sludge of the negative list…. I have done it.

But….

It is our choice…

It is my choice…

As I remind some of my students daily…. “Let’s make better choices”

I am going to take my own advice…

I am a very lucky guy.

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You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com