1969… A Very Merry (and Prescient) Christmas

A quick memory from a Christmas long ago….1969

All Christmases were memorable at our house… with 6 kids it was always a ruckus.

But thinking back to 1969 it was both memorable and prescient.

JoeNamath-dollMore memorable in part because the KC Chiefs had just defeated the NY Jets (who were coming off their Championship 1968 season) 13-6 in the AFC Divisional Playoff game, and were on their way to winning Super Bowl IV.   Our family had 2 season tickets and we were all Chiefs fans…. even though my older sister was somewhat a closet Jets fan, and a not so closet Broadway Joe Namath fan… in fact my Christmas present to her (Joyce) that year was a Joe Namath GI Joe type doll that came with full pads, a uniform and a white fur coat.

 

My wish list for that Christmas was short… I was going for the “All In” approach… asking for a single, yet somewhat extravagant present… The wish was for a game called “Computer Football” made by the company, Electronic Data Controls.  Now this was not the old electric football game where the field vibrates and the players move (normally in circles) down the field.  In the Computer Football game each player was a “coach” and could select an offensive play and call a defense.  You did this by pushing a couple of buttons.  After the play and defense were selected, a bulb would light up on a large grid, which would determine the outcome of the play.

computer footballThe game was very complex looking… on a large wooden board with dials and buttons and light bulbs…. it was also very expensive.  For some reason I remember the price being $39… figuring inflation (there is a calculator online) that would be equal to nearly $250 today.  Being in a family with 6 kids it was a long shot that “Santa” would be able to deliver.

Well, Santa did deliver… which is why along with all else, Christmas in 1969 was memorable and prescient…. Over 40 years later I still love football, coaching, strategy and using technology to pull it all together.

Happy Holidays!  Go Chiefs!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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Making a List

And checking it twice…

No, not that list… that “naughty or nice” die has already been cast at this point in time.

I am talking about a To-Do list… the simplest/ quickest way to become more efficient and productive.

I am an organization “junky”… but have not always been.  In my first teaching position at Blue Springs HS years ago (1979) I was an unorganized mess…. teaching five different preps and coaching two sports.  I was floundering and knew I had to change some things… knew I had to get more organized or fail.

I am also a tech “junky”… I have used computers since 1982… I actually owned an Apple IIc (the first “portable” computer) in 1984. I have tried and experimented with nearly all of the organization and productivity apps out there.  I have tried probably six or seven “To-Do” list apps, and even though I am a techie, I don’t use any of them.

Make_a_ListFor some reason, for me, I find that I am the most productive… the most efficient… when I make a simple, hand written list each day of tasks that I need to do.  I get great satisfaction marking through the tasks when I finish them.  On days that I neglect to make the list… I am not as productive.  The list keeps me focused, on task, and prevents me from drifting into endless “time sucks” that are out there lurking … like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

It is the simplest and quickest way to become more efficient and productive.  If this habit is not currently in your repertoire, maybe you should put it on your Christmas List, or make it a Resolution next week!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Standing out on a Shelf

Evaluation.

  • What are you doing well?
  • What are you keeping?… throwing out?…
  • What are you changing?
  • How can you improve your teaching/ coaching?
  • How can you best utilize your (and your staff’s) strengths and improve your weaknesses?

During this time of the year, many of us are going through this self-evaluation process with our programs.   Baldwin Wallace Offensive Coordinator, Keith Grabowski shared some great info to guide you through the Strategic Planning and Quality Control steps in his post: Plan Your Work.  Work Your Plan.

I have shared some ideas as well in these posts:

Today I would like to pose another question as we enter this evaluation phase of the year.  If, after your evaluation, you decide to makes changes, offensively, defensively or in special teams, what are you going to “Put On the Shelf”… what are you going to display?

Marketing/ business guru, Seth Godin recently wrote in his post Getting Lost on the Shelf:

“A friend got some feedback on a new project proposal recently. “It will have trouble standing out on a shelf that’s already crowded.”

The thing is, every shelf in every store and especially online is crowded. The long tail made the virtual shelves infinitely long, which means that every record, every widget, every job application, every book, every website, every non-profit… all of it… is on a crowded shelf.

And the problem with a crowded shelf is that your odds of getting found and getting picked are slim indeed, slimmer than ever before.

Which is why ‘the shelf’ can’t be your goal. If you need to get picked from the shelf/slush pile/transom catchbasin then you’ve already lost.

The only opportunity (which of course, is the best opportunity ever for most of us) …. is to skip the shelf and be the one and only dominator in a category of one, a category that couldn’t really exist if you weren’t in it.

That’s hard to visualize, because it doesn’t match what you’ve been taught and what our culture has (until recently) celebrated, but it’s what’s on offer now.”

You might be asking “What does this have to do with football?”

Texas_Bevo_Wishbone_08142012Emory Bellard developed the wishbone offense (which actually has roots back to a Junior High School in Fort Worth, TX) and implemented it at the start of the 1968 season at the University of Texas.   UT, under Darrell Royal, tied their first game that season, lost their second, and then won the next 30 games and two national championships using the wishbone.  They were the first, and for a time the only team using the formation…. consider the problems preparing for that game.  They stood out on the shelf.

Tom Landry took the nose tackle and moved him back to Linebacker depth and created the 4-3 defense when he was coordinator with the NY Giants.  In 1956 the Giants won the NFL championship, and played for the championship again in 1958 and 1959.  Landry took his 4-3 defense to the Cowboys, and modified it into the “Flex” 4-3.  His Giant squads were the first, and for a time the only team lining up in that defense… consider the problems preparing for that game.  They stood out on the shelf.

Do you remember the first time you had to prepare for a spread offense?… a no huddle offense?… a Split 6 defense?… a “Bear” defense?… Is there a way you and your program can Stand Out On the Shelf?  Can you be a dominator in a category of one?

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Strength Training and “At Risk” Students

We all know that a Strength Training and Conditioning program or class has great benefits for our athletes.  Most of us (fall or spring sport coaches) are deep into our off-season programs with our athletes during this time of the year.  The thing I have really begun to realize after teaching the course for a number (and I mean a NUMBER) of years is that it can really be a great class for any student and especially for “at-risk” or “problem” students who are not athletes.

Here are some reasons why:

1)  Most of the work is typically done in small groups – with normally 2-4 students in a group working together.  Studies have identified, and we probably all can cite anecdotal examples of the advantages of learning in small groups:

  • Students come to a more complete understanding by comparing themselves with others.
  • Having to explain to others encourages elaboration.
  • Students with better skills serve as models.
  • There is more opportunity to develop skills in communication (listening, responding, interacting) and interpersonal relations
  • Motivation comes from peers in addition to coming from the instructor.

I have noticed all of these things taking place in a high functioning Strength and Conditioning class.

2)  Peer tutoring

Peer tutoring has been defined as students from similar social groupings whom are not professional teachers that help each other to learn and, in fact, learn themselves by teaching.  This happens daily in good strength and conditioning classes.  Peer tutoring is beneficial to both the Tutor and the Tutee:

Tutors

  • Tutoring helps students increase their own understanding of the subject matter as they teach students
  • Tutors can practice their communication skills with junior students
  • It allows tutors an opportunity to develop their own leadership skills

Tutees

  • Tutees receive individualized instruction
  • Tutees receive more teaching
  • Tutees (may) respond better to their peers than to their teachers
  • Tutees can obtain companionship from the students that tutor them

3)  It is easy to catch someone “Doing Something Right

push pressI think this is the most significant reason that a Strength and Conditioning class can be every effective for “At Risk” students.  Lets say the students in class are doing a workout that consists of 3 sets of 8 repetitions on 3 different lifts.   During the course of that classroom session you as a teacher (or a peer tutor) has the opportunity to watch and catch them doing something correct as they attempt nearly 75 repetitions!  Almost any student will find a way to do at least 1 and probably several reps correctly… and that gives you, as an instructor, an opportunity to praise them and give them positive feedback… something many “At Risk” students seldom hear.

I see it nearly every day… a quick “that was awesome” or “great technique on that last rep” and their faces light up.

4) Students get a sense of accomplishment.

I have never had a student get weaker during the course of a Strength and Conditioning class…. most see significant gains.  These gains typically come weekly or even daily early on in a program, and are displayed prominently on their workout card (see post The Workout Card) as they “break” (see post Breaking – It’s a Good Thing).  Many students, even those that have never been involved or successful in athletics, can achieve some degree of success in Strength and Conditioning class.  With that success comes confidence.

Who takes the Strength and Conditioning classes at your school?  Are non-athletes encouraged, and are there sections open to non-athletes?  Do you as a teacher put the same type of effort into your non-athlete Strength and Conditioning classes?

Just asking….

I would love to hear comments or stories about your experience with At Risk students in a Strength and Conditioning class!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

NCAA DII Football and Geography

Last week the NCAA announced that beginning in 2014 and running through 2017, the NCAA DII Championship Football Game will be held in Sporting Park, in Kansas City.  The game has been held for the previous 26 years in Florence, Alabama.   They have done a great job of hosting the event, and the phrases “Getting to Braly Stadium” or “Making the trip to Florence Alabama” have become motivation for many DII schools.  So it is tinged with a hint of nostalgic regret that the contest is being relocated… but only a hint!

Here are the reasons that I think this will be a great move for the contest and NCAA DII football.

It is in my back yard!

Although actually in Kansas City, Kansas, the venue for this event, Sporting Park, is less than 15 minutes from my home in Kansas City, MO.

The location is closer to participating schools and conferences

Kansas City sits geographically in the middle of two NCAA DII conferences – the always-strong MIAA, (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association) and the newly formed GLVC (Great Lakes Valley Conference).  It also is in striking distance of two other power NCAA DII Conferences, the GLIAC (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), and the NSIC (Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference).

DII champions

In the last 16 years, the MIAA, GLIAC or NSIC has had a representative (or two) in the title game all but 4 years.  Out of the 34 participants in the championship contest over the past 17 years, 2/3 of the schools are closer (23 out of 34) to Kansas City than Florence, Alabama.

NCAA DII schools have a great following in this area.  The annual Fall Classic held at Arrowhead Stadium, which pits Northwest Missouri State University against Pittsburg State University (KS), typically draws more than 20,000 fans and drew a record 26,695 fans in 2004.

Sporting Park is a great venue.

Sporting Park, home of the MLS Champions, Sporting KC, is a state-of-the-art facility that was completed in 2011.  The venue will seat nearly 20,000 for the contest, and includes 2 video boards, a club level, 3 TV and 4 radio commentary booths, and is fully lighted for HDTV.  The stadium is adjacent to the Kansas Speedway and is located 15 minutes from downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

This can be a showcase for DII football and athletics.

People will come to, fans will support, and media will cover this contest.  The population of the KC metro area is 2.34 million people.   While Florence Alabama is nice city and did a great job of hosting the championship game the last 26 years, its population is less than 40,000.   Florence is not a destination… the attendance at the game hovers around 6,000 and seldom gets above 8,000 in attendance.  I think playing in Kansas City will give many more people an opportunity to see the outstanding football that is being played at the NCAA DII level. (see recruiting post – Expanding Your Pool)

On a side note

Regarding the nostalgia, excitement and hospitality of playing in Florence Alabama, I can speak from experience after coaching for 14 years at the NCAA II level.  While not making the trip to Florence for the Championship Game, when I was at the University of Central Missouri,  we did journey to Braly Stadium to play North Alabama in 1992.  We ended up losing that game 17-16 when we blocked a field goal attempt by North Alabama that did not cross the LOS…. they picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown to win the game.  North Alabama went on to the NCAA quarterfinals that year and were DII National Champions the following three seasons, 1993,1994 and 1995.

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Creating Your Masterpiece

This time of year (for football) offers an excellent opportunity to focus on some “Big Picture” items in your program; setting goals and objectives, crafting a mission statement, honing your philosophy.

masterpiece

Like all great masterpieces, this “Big Picture” is actually made up of many small, detailed, intricate, brush strokes.  Coach Keith Grabowoski, Offensive Coordinator at Baldwin-Wallace University has written a series of great posts that will take you through this Strategic Planning Process to help you create your own masterpiece:

In addition, to Coach Grabowski’s series, I would like to revisit a concept that I have previously written about: Your Elevator Speech.

An elevator speech is a business term describing a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization, or philosophy.  The name elevator speech reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty to ninety seconds.

I believe it is very important as coaches that we have a clear understanding what our philosophy is (overall program, offense, defense) and can articulate it to players, administration, and parents clearly and succinctly – like an elevator speech.  If you were in an elevator traveling to the top of the Empire State Building with one of your players or parents, could you communicate your philosophy before you reached the top?

When I think back over the years, it was no coincidence that when I had my best squads, I did the best job of communicating (teaching) our team’s philosophy.  When I was a young coach in the 80’s, every coach, player, parent and fan in Osceola, Missouri could tell you what the “Osceola Air Force” was about offensively… and could still to this day!

  • Spread opponents out formationally
  • Use motion on nearly every play
  • Make opponents wary and worried about our passing game
  • Pound the ball with a strong inside run game

When I was the defensive coordinator at the University of Central Missouri in the 90’s, I know every coach and player could have given an elevator speech about our “Dirty Red” defensive philosophy – and could still to this day!

  • Stop the Run
  • Keep things simple so we could use our athletic ability and play fast
  • Have a degree of multiplicity so we were not predictable
  • Have fun playing “Dirty Red” Defense!

When everyone in your program knows where you are going, and how you are planning to get there, it makes success possible.

What is your elevator speech?  Are you ready to start work on your masterpiece?

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Your Recipe for Success

A quick exercise.

Think about some of the best work that you have ever done.

  • The best performance you have ever given …
  • A great workout that you completed …
  • The best article you have ever written …
  • A knockout presentation that you gave …
  • The best game you ever played …
  • A classroom lesson that rocked …
  • The best race you ever ran …
  • Your best practice
  • The best game you ever coached …

It should be pretty easy to pick out one – we normally have many good memories/ feelings associated with our good work.

Now…. how can you replicate it?

Success-IngredientsNot the exact thing, of course… but what were the ingredients behind that work that made it possible to be great?  What was your recipe for success?

 

  • How did you prepare?
  • What was your mental state?
  • How did you feel before starting?
  • How did you feel afterwards?
  • What obstacles did you have (we always have some) and how did you overcome them?
  • What was different about this work?
  • What tools did you use to create this… your best work?
  • What help or support did you have?

Great work rarely “just happens”.  Normally it is the result of a confluence of factors coming together at the same time.

Here is the deal… if you can do it once… you can do it again…. It is in there!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Madiba

I sit and write this with great trepidation.  I don’t want to trivialize Nelson Mandela’s life, or his accomplishments.  His impact on our world extends far beyond the sports arena, but his life has been inexorably linked to athletics… not only in South Africa, but on the world stage as well.

mandelaNelson Mandela was an amateur boxer in his youth and often spoke about and used athletics to leverage his agenda.  His donning of the Sprinbok rugby jersey to the chants of “Nelson, Nelson, Nelson” by 65,000 white rugby fans is well documented in print (Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation) and film (Invictus).  One of Mandela’s last public appearances was at the 2010 World Cup final that was held in South Africa.

One of my favorite pieces regarding Nelson Mandela was Seth Godin’s recent post, A Legacy of Mandela:

“Others can better write about Nelson Mandela’s impact on the world stage, on how he stood up for the dignity of all people and on how he changed our world.

For those that seek to make a change in the world, whether global or local, one lesson of his life is this:

You can.

You can make a difference.

You can stand up to insurmountable forces.

You can put up with far more than you think you can.

Your lever is far longer than you imagine it is, if you choose to use it.

If you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world.”

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

We Can Do More!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Circle of Life

circleWell, it is that time of the year.

It is like the Circle of Life.

As soon as one football season ends, the next begins.

The final whistle blows during the last game; the banquets are planned, awards given out, equipment stowed, then the real work begins preparing for the next season.  Hard work by coaches and players alike will set the foundation for the upcoming year(s).

I always saw it as a fun, exciting time.

  • It is a new year…
  • It is a fresh start – everyone is “even”…
  • No team has any wins or losses yet…
  • There are no “starters”…
  • Everyone is competing for a spot on the new team…
  • New leaders step up…
  • A new team “chemistry” develops…

It is a time for players and coaches to get stronger and better. Coaches develop their player’s mettle through their off-season conditioning programs.  Coaches can hone their skills as well during this time.  Between information available on the Internet, and the great coaching clinics all over the country, we can become stronger as well as our athletes.

Now is the time to expand your coaching comfort zone,

Now, for some shameless self-promoting…  On this blog you will find information on many of these topics… with ideas from, and links to, other successful coaches as well as my own.  You can search my blog by keyword, or click on a variety of topics such as:

In addition, by the end of the year I hope to finalize edits of my first iBook – Football Game Planning: Defense, and complete work on two new iBooks, Wanted and Rewarded: The complete guide to the college recruiting process, and Strength and Conditioning: A student led approach for high school and middle school athletes.  I will let you know via this blog on how to get your copies of these resources.

I want to give a big shout out to Dion Clisso and the folks at PrepsKC.   The work and logistics of putting together a timely, weekly magazine in print and online is quite an undertaking.  I enjoyed being a part of it this season, and enjoyed following the story lines as the 2013 season unfolded… from the pre-season articles and podcasts filled with stories of hopeful anticipation, to chronicling several area schools march to State Championships.  It is a great deal of work, and the folks at PrepsKC should be commended on the quantity and quality of their work this season.  They continue to do a great job of promoting high school football in the Kansas City Metro area.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

History Lesson

It has been a rough couple of weeks for the sport I… WE … love.

  • A study just released showed participation in youth football leagues across the country was down 10% last year… a significant hit (pun intended) and is attributed to fear of injury … specifically head injuries… on the parents part.
  • You can see the posturing for litigation beginning as former NFL stars test, and show signs, of CTE … chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
  • The “Locker Room” culture in the NFL, from hazing and bullying to overall bad behavior on some NFL teams, has been exposed and laid bare.

It’s not the first time football has been under siege, but it might be the most critical battle since our sport was almost banished in 1905 after 18 people died playing football.  A few things that happened in that year (1905) that saved the sport:

teddy-roosevelt-fb_4

There were several rule changes that were implemented that made the game inherently safer. These included …

  • Creating a neutral zone at the line of scrimmage
  • Increasing the yards to gain for a first down from 5 to 10
  • Legalizing the forward pass.

A prominent spokesperson stood up and defended the value of the sport – Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt believed that participating in sports “had an excellent effect in increased manliness.” He spoke specifically about football

“In short, in life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!”

Roosevelt also convened a group that would eventually become the NCAA.

Fast-forward nearly 110 years…  Let’s learn from History.

New rules have recently been implemented that will, in the long run, make football safer.

There are currently some prominent people that are stepping up to address the virtues of our sport.   Tom Brady during an interview on MNF last week spoke about why football is such a great sport…

“That’s what football is all about… that’s why it’s such a great sport… it’s so much more than just athleticism.. It’s mental toughness, it’s discipline… it’s doing the right thing… it’s being selfless… it’s being part of a team”

Hall of Fame quarterback, and three-time Super Bowl champion Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers addressed the locker room culture in the NFL.  He said, without hesitation, that there is no room for it (hazing) in the sport.  He said when Bill Walsh came to the 49ers in 1979-80 he told his players that there would not be any “hazing” of the rookies… that they (the veterans) were to welcome and give them every opportunity to succeed, make the squad, and make our team better.  His legacy, record, and three Super Bowl titles speaks to the success of that attitude.

We need not wait for a prominent spokesperson to step up and save football in 2013…. It is up to us as coaches … as the most knowledgeable and important advocates regarding the benefits of our sport.  We know, can, and should articulate everything that is great about football.  We need to be at the forefront of this discussion, proactively promoting the values of participating in our sport.

Without a doubt it is a risk/ reward decision that has to be made regarding participation in football.  I believe, and always will, that the rewards far outweigh the risks associated with playing.

If you want to read more about how Teddy Roosevelt saved football, John Miller has written a book about it – The Big Scrum – How Teddy Roosevelt saved football
or you can read about it on the History Channel site here – How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football.

Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com