Well Coached

Well Coached…

What does a well-coached team look like?

  • Few mental errors or penalties…
  • Good clock management…
  • The players are in shape…
  • Good knowledge and execution of their offensive and defensive systems…
  • Solid kicking game…
  • Great fundamentals…

Doing all the “little things” needed to be successful.

You would assume that all SEC teams, especially two that were both ranked in the top 5 in the country would be equally “well-coached”.

Well not so fast.

A couple of weeks ago Alabama (1) played Texas A & M (5)… a game which featured these two top ranked teams… Alabama ended up cruising to a 33-14 victory.

It is my contention that while both teams’ rosters are filled with great athletes, only one of these teams was truly well-coached… only one of these teams did all the “little things” needed to be successful.

In a clip from the show SEC Film Room, Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson discusses how they picked up several “tells” from the A & M offensive line… specifically how their offensive tackle’s stance gave away if the play was a run or pass. (Thanks to Coach Cooper – @GorillaMyscles for helping me locate this clip)

run-pass

This is basic stuff.

Maybe it is no wonder that A & M lost three straight games after this.

And guess what Alabama Coach Nick Saban said his team was going to focus on during the bye week following their defeat of Texas A & M?

  • Attention to detail…
  • Fixing some “little things”…
  • Fundamentals….

Needless to say, Alabama is a well-coached football team.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Inclusivity

As you read on, it will probably become apparent why I have written this post, and written it at this time.

Let me begin by saying this is not an indictment of any coach or program… I am not pointing fingers at anyone except myself… pointing out my own inadequacies so that others may learn from my shortcomings.

I am just posing a few rhetorical questions… some food for thought.

How inclusive is your athletic program?

Would students from other backgrounds, cultures, religions, or ethnicities feel welcomed, safe…. feel “at home” in your program?

diversity

If your school were primarily an urban school, would a young man (or woman) that transferred from a rural school be made to feel included in your program?

If the athletes in your program (and your coaches) were predominately Caucasian, would an athlete of color that wanted to participate feel welcomed?

If your school population (and your coaches) were predominately Christian, would a Muslim student feel like they were accepted in your program?

If you believe (as I do) that participation in athletics is an important piece of the total educational puzzle… that there is so much more to learn by participating in athletics than X’s and O’s… then really the answer to these questions needs to be YES.

I detailed an experience from my past in this post about a former player of mine Toriano Porter… I hope you take time to read it. Without rehashing the whole story, let it suffice to say that as a young, white, teacher from the suburbs coaching at the University of Central Missouri, I did not understand the plight of young, black, urban athletes nearly as well as I thought I did.

Another experience from a few years ago…

I was teaching in a very affluent…but a fairly diverse culturally… community in Texas. We had many students of color, and many different ethnicities in the school population… and this diversity was reflected in the students who participated on our football team.

This diversity was not reflected on our coaching staff. We were all white and predominately Christian.

Why does that matter, you might ask?

We had several young men who were Muslim that played on our team. I am quite sure that at times these athletes felt like outsiders… different. That year the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan fell during our season. We all knew the “normal” … “traditional” holidays… Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter… but Ramadan? (or Yom Kippur, or Diwali)

I knew what Ramadan was… I taught World Religions for a couple of years… but had not thought about when it occurred or the ramifications in regards to sports participation. During Ramadan Muslims fast from sunup to sunset… no consuming food or drinking liquids… that meant no water during, hot Texas summer practices… mouthpieces could not be worn.

As coaches, we really had no plan as to how we could help accommodate these players who were practicing their faith, other than to acknowledge that “boy, that is going to be hard”. I was unprepared… inadequate.

This is not an easy topic… but it is important.

If participation of athletics is an important part of our education system, then this topic needs to be explored… these questions need to be considered.

How inclusive is your program?

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

Competing at a High Level

It is that time of the year.

Over the next few weeks of the high school season we all will have the pleasure of seeing players (and teams) competing at a high level.

I have written often about competing in this blog… I just did a search to see how many of my posts contained the words “compete”, “competing” and “competitor” and stopped counting after 50.

My catch phrase (my very domain name) “You Can Do More” is an entreat to compete!

I have not written about competing at a high level… and there is a difference.

Competing… and learning how to compete… is really ALL mental … as the rest of my phrase indicates… “your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!”

To compete you don’t have to be a skilled athlete… or really an athlete at all.

You don’t have to be in great shape… or have learned good technique… you just need to give your best… a great… effort. We all have seen… and probably coached players (and teams) that were not the most skilled… the most athletic… but still competed well.

But competing at a high level requires much more…. and the teams that continue to advance through the playoffs over the next few weeks will be doing, and will have done the “much more” that it takes to compete at a high level.

football-playoffsTo me, for an individual to compete at a high level means that they have done everything in their power to make themselves mentally AND physically into the best player they can be…. a team competing at a high level means that the coach has engineered the same preparation to the bulk of the athletes (and coaches) on that squad.

The individuals competing at a high level will be in shape, strong, fast, use great technique, will be mentally prepared and confident in their training… they will reach down and Do More!

Teams that advance these next weeks will exhibit the same characteristics… great team speed and strength… mentally sharp, focused, confident and making few mistakes…. these teams will find a way to Do More… find a way to get it done.

Over the next month it will be fun following individual players and teams that have put the work in required to compete at a high level… good luck to you all.

“Big time players make big time plays in big time games”…. “The cream will rise to the top”

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

What Motivates Your Athletes?

What motivates… inspires… drives your athletes ?

Of course, I cannot answer that question for you…. but I can share a few things that I have learned about motivation.

  • There is no “cookie cutter” approach… every athlete is different.
  • There is no “magic bullet”… it often is a variety and an accumulation of things.
  • What works one year, may not the next… every team is different.
  • You have to develop a relationship with your athletes and team to find out what their “hot button” is.
  • Every athlete has a story… a set of circumstances that make them unique.

And I was made keenly aware of one more things this past week…

Sometimes the best motivation happens daily… it is often tied to the mundane and is in the minutia.

A discussion broke out on Facebook the last couple of weeks among a group of former student-athletes that I had the honor of teaching and coaching 30 years ago in Osceola, Missouri.

It started with a Throwback Thursday photo (thanks Brandon Shelby) showing the cover of our playbook from 1986.

86-playbook

A rapid exchange of posts followed…

More pictures of old playbooks

playbook2

Men recalling names of plays in the playbook (Gambler, Kelly)

gamblerkelly

A picture of the football we used (USFL ball) that our QB (Paul Carney) had saved.

usfl-ball

And an email to me that included a digital copy of the entire playbook! (Thank you Ryan Self)

I have written about the value of a playbook as a teaching tool MANY times (The Value of a Playbook, The Playbook is dead… Long Live the Playbook, Flipping the Practice Field) but the playbook as motivation?

YES… it is clear to me that it was important to this group.

We were the “Osceola Air Force”… it was our identity.

We were a 1A school… but I wanted our student-athletes to think bigger… I wanted them to have pride in everything we said and did.

It was at the height of the USFL… the Houston Gamblers and Jim Kelly… we were running a “spread offense” in 1986 using “run and shoot” concepts.

  • The mundane… a playbook.
  • The minutia… the name of a play.
  • The daily… the type of football we used in practice and games.

And 30 years later these men (and their sons and daughters) still talk about it… they have saved their playbooks, and their old beat up football.

It is clear that this stuff was important to them… it helped motivate them.

It all matters… It has a cumulative effect.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Your Creed

I am constantly reminded that, as coaches, we are an amalgam… a combination… of all of the coaches we have played for or coached with throughout our lifetimes.

The philosophy we believe in… the techniques we teach… how we teach…

And the converse is true.   We mentor… teach… inspire all of the players and coaches in our sphere.

We are at the same time a “branch” of one coaching tree, and the “roots” of yet another

I have been very fortunate to have many great individuals influence the way I coach and teach (see posts Genealogy, Your Tree, Immortality).

I bring this all up today because of a post on a Facebook group I belong to (CMSU Fighting Mules Football Alumni) that referenced the “Muleball Creed”.

muleball-creedThe Muleball Creed was (and still is) deeply rooted in the folks that played for and coached with Terry Noland during his tenure as head football coach at the University of Central Missouri.

It was in every playbook, posted on our office walls, part of our workouts, discussed during pre-game, and eventually worked is way into the core… the psyche… the very fabric of the people in our program.

It states simply…

“Man’s greatest moment of happiness is to be tested beyond what he thought might be his breaking point and still succeed!”

We all memorized it, believed it, and could recite it at will… in fact I just typed it out verbatim 20 years after leaving UCM… and most everyone else that played and coached there during those years could probably do the same.

It is strikingly familiar to my Creed… Catch Phrase… Mantra…

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

My” Creed?…It IS what I believe… but hardly… exclusively… originally… mine.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

 

Courage

Being more of a spectator now as opposed to an active coach has given me new perspective (and renewed appreciation) on our job as coaches.

It takes courage to participate in athletics, whether as a coach or participant.

You are putting yourself “out there” for everyone… spectators, family, friends and foes alike to watch, judge, critique, etc. It is easy to sit in the stands and grouse about how your team is lacking, or how your team’s players are “not very good”. It is much harder to compete, take the risk, do the work, and be a Doer!

It takes courage to be a coach, to put your product out for evaluation every Friday night or Tuesday or Sunday afternoon. I chuckle inside when other teachers (non coaches) worry/ complain/ get angry about being “evaluated” once or twice a year. Coaches not only get evaluated during those two “official” teaching evaluations, but also every Friday night when they put their team on the field. The evaluation is done not only by school officials, but parents, community members, students, and the media.

football-pressure-coachIn addition to these “evaluations” many of us also get evaluated almost daily by our Activities Director and/ or administration… watching practice, checking grades, monitoring your teams behavior while they are at school. And it is ALL GOOD! It comes with the job; it is what we signed up for, and generally keeps us on our toes.

So why do we do it? Why do we decide to compete… to coach?

This is a excerpt from Seth Godin’s blog that I re-read yesterday about being a spectator as opposed to a Doer:

“The spectators foolishly assert that if everyone was a doer, a leader and a maker of ruckuses, then there’d be no one left in the audience. As if those that do require an audience.”

“The alternative to being a spectator involves failure and apparent risk. It means that you will encounter people who accuse you of hubris and flying too high, people who are eager to point out the loose thread on your jacket or the flaw in your reasoning. The spectators in the stands are happy to boo, happy to walk out when the team is struggling in the third period, happy to switch if the bread or the circuses cease to delight.”

“Why on earth, they ask, would they want to be anything but a spectator?”

“And yet, those that have foolishly picked themselves, stood up, stood out and made a difference, can’t help but ask, “and why would I ever want to be a spectator again?””

You (and your players) have picked yourselves and stood up…

You (and your players) are Doers…. You are Competitors!

You have chosen a more difficult path…. a more difficult, but much more rewarding path.

You make a difference.

Ours is an awesome job, with awesome responsibilities!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

Be Prepared

It is always a joy watching teams that are well prepared… that never seem flustered… that seem to expect the unexpected.

It is a joy watching teams that are well coached.

I know most football coaches use a script for their Thursday (day before contest) practice to “rehearse” kicking game situations. We, too, used a script for our final practice, but expanded its use cover more “unexpected” situations outside the special teams.

script-jpeg

You can download the Excel file of the script we used here (Thursday practice script) but equally as important as the script itself is how we used it in teaching and preparing our athletes.

Here are some basic tenets that we employed in our Thursday practice script:

We tried to keep everyone involved both physically and mentally.

You can see in the script sequence there are times when JV and Scout team players are actively participating in situations. In addition, the athletes know that for each segment we will call out for at least one substitute… so they ALL have to be on their toes.

We wanted to keep all our coaches involved.

Our coaches should be coaching. Everyone has a function during this script… if they are normally on the field during the game, they will be in their same locations doing their same duties (i.e. “get back” coach). If they are normally in the pressbox, they will have assigned duties during the scripted scenarios (i.e. spotting the ball during 2 minute drill). Nothing undermines the importance of this practice like some of your coaches standing by the side and talking about their evening plans!

We wanted our athletes to understand the situations.

We used our Thursday script to make sure that our athletes understood personnel, alignment and assignment for each of these situations, but also the “why”, the strategy and philosophy that corresponded to each of these scenarios. For example, when and why might we want to take a safety during the course of a game, what can we expect in sudden change situations, what is our thinking offensively when we are “backed up”?

We want the practice to be “crisp”.

Each week, we kept the routine (and the script sequence) the same… including how each group huddled prior to entering the field, where each position group would stand during the game, how we would communicate, and coach’s assignments. We had already spent practice time during the week working on specific technique and assignments… this should be a refresher.

The first few weeks, we would spend more time explaining the concepts behind each of these scenarios, but as the season progressed we were able to be more succinct.

We had weekly “reminders” for each scenario.

For each special team, and special situation we would interject a reminder (or two) based on our scouting report for that week. If we knew the opponent had a particular strength (or weakness) it gave us one more time to emphasize that point prior to the game.

We used the script to continue teaching the kicking game.

It gave us an opportunity to quickly reinforce concepts like alignment, assignment, angles, and technique used in each phase of the kicking game. Although we did not use the time for in-depth coaching (as I mentioned we wanted to keep the practice crisp) it gave our athletes another opportunity to hear our “catch phrases” in each special team segment… phrases like “cone to the football”, “lane integrity”, “hay bail them” or “2-gap them”.

The bottom line is, we wanted our athletes to be prepared… in ALL situations. This was one tool we used to put a capstone on our weekly prep.

I hope this effectively communicated how/ why we used this script as part of our Thursday game prep practice. If you have any questions over this (or any other post) please shoot me an email or message me…. I WILL reply.

Good luck to all of the coaches this week as you enter the halfway point (how is that possible!) of the season.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

 

Culture

Culture.

The culture of a program…

The culture of your program…

What is encompassed by this phrase?

  • The expectations regarding success…
  • The expectations regarding character…
  • Confidence…
  • Work Habits…
  • Classroom conduct…
  • Team and individual goals…
  • How players are held accountable in these areas

These concepts and many more that I am sure you can think of.

Trying to change the culture of a program is an incredibly difficult task.

How is it done? How can you accomplish this? How can you…

success-sign

  • Move your team from the point of no success or expectations of success…
  • To winning some games against weaker opponents… teams you are “expected” to win…
  • To expecting success…wins … weekly and against all opponents.

I have written on this subject before and highlighted programs and individuals that changed the culture in their programs.

I have been involved in a few of these situations as a coach… both with success and without.

Here is what I have come to believe is one of the most important concepts when trying to change the culture of a program…

  • It takes a village.
  • It takes all hands on deck.
  • It takes everyone speaking the same language with the same expectations.
  • It takes everyone in the building and community being on the same page

If the expectations are understood by the athletes in your football program, but change when they participate in other sports, all the learning and progress made during the fall season is diminished.

If the athletes are expected to compete daily in your strength and conditioning class, but can take days off in another instructors class, the culture you are trying to change takes a hit.

If you are teaching your athletes the importance of great daily practice habits to be successful, but they are not hearing this in their other sports, or their other classes, or at home, then your task of changing the culture becomes more difficult.

You get the idea.

If you are trying to change the culture of your program (or sustain the great culture you already have) and things are not progressing as you would like…. I would take a look at what is happening when the athletes are not under your tutelage.

It is difficult to deliver an effective message… it is difficult for your athletes to “hear” your message if they are only expected to “listen” two or three hours a day.

Your message HAS to become the school/ community message.

It can be, and has been done… so you can do it!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

The Limitations of 140 Characters

Let me preface this post by saying that I embrace technology and I use many social media tools.

I tweet daily, scan the twittershpere for nuggets, and participate in several online twitter chats (see Post #TXHSFBCHAT… The Fastest 60 Minutes on the Internet)

That being said, twitter 140these tools all have limitations… and in many ways (like for really in-depth study and research), they are doo doo (RIP Gene Wilder).

To think you are going to learn much anything of substance by reading a 140 character tweet is misguided at best, and really pretty lazy at worst.

I worry at times that colleagues are spending… investing… time scrolling through their twitter account searching for that Golden Ticket (RIP Gene Wilder)… that single concept, phrase, or idea that will put their program on the path to greatness…

Probably not an investment that will pay huge dividends.

Most concepts in football (or coaching) have more substance than can be adequately covered in a tweet, Instagram picture, or Facebook post. My single post, Defensive Game Planning – The Call Sheet, has over 1,000 words, (6,500 characters) about a dozen images and a 10-minute video… and I still worry that I adequately covered the subject!
What I try to do with my tweets (or re-tweet) is to get your attention… and then direct you to where the substance is… to where the REAL information is… which normally will take some time to read and digest.

It is not about instant gratification or a sound bite… it is about learning, content, and thoughtful study.

There is no shortcut… the only guaranteed shortcut … take the long way!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

 

Rocket Science

It is not… getting recruited, that is. It is not Rocket Science.

launch1bHere’s the deal… the concepts are simple, the actual “doing”, tends to be much harder.  There really is no “magic bullet”, sure-fire single thing that will get you a college scholarship.  There really is no “miracle pill” that will get the college recruiters lining up at your door.  Well, there really is a “miracle pill” that you can take, but it just takes four (or more) years and a lot of hard work to swallow!

fork in roadWhat it boils down to is that over the next four years (if you are a freshman) you will be given literally thousands of choices that you will need to make. The result of these choices will either get you closer to your goal of being a college athlete and being rewarded for your hard work, or put you further away from your dream.

The sneaky thing, the really insidious thing, is that most of these choices by themselves aren’t “deal breakers”… making the right choice will not automatically earn you a college scholarship, and making the wrong choice will not prevent it.  So it is easy to think at the time you have to make the choice, “oh, this is no big thing”.  And you are right, this one single choice probably is NOT a big thing, but making these choices, good or bad, is incremental and cumulative.

I have seen student-athletes make these same types of choices over the last 30 years of my career.  The athletes that make the majority of choices that positively impact their goal are FAR more likely to achieve that goal.

Here are some choices that bombard a typical high school athlete…

  • You decide to skip the Friday after school off-season program because you want some extra time to get ready for your date tonight…. It Matters!
  • You decide to take a Team Sports class next semester instead of Advanced Strength Training for Athletes because it is easier… It Matters!
  • You work out with a group of 4 at a rack instead of 3, knowing that there will be more rest time… It Matters!
  • You chat with your friends in the evening instead of reading your literature assignment, which you will be tested over in the morning… It Matters!
  • You miss a summer-school strength and conditioning class session because you were “just too tired”… It Matters!
  • You stand at the side and talk to a teammate while others are practicing and coaches are coaching instead of getting a “mental rep”… It Matters!
  • You take your scouting report home, but don’t study it like the coach asked you to because your favorite TV show was on… It Matters!
  • Your mom schedules a dentist appointment on the day of practice, but you say “It’s OK, we just have practice that day”…. It Matters!
  • You decide to go to a party where you know there will be alcohol and underage drinking because all of your friends will be there…. It Matters!
  • You are late to practice because you have a detention for too many tardies…It Matters!
  • You jog through the finish of a drill instead of going full speed because you know the coach is helping someone else and isn’t looking at you… It Matters!

You get the idea, and could probably add more examples of choices you have had to make.  These types of choices come up all the time… daily… and I am here to tell you that It Matters!  It is not easy – as I said this “Miracle Pill” takes four years and a lot of hard work to swallow.  But you can do it… You Can Do More!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com