We were prepping for a big game one season at the University of Central Missouri.  One of my defensive staff members was fretting.

Sometimes I think we (coaches) care more about this game than they (the players) do.”

get-buy-inOf course we do… that is no surprise!  The amount that you “care”… how much winning means to you… is directly proportional to the amount you have invested in it… in the program.  As coaches, we have the most invested… time, work, sweat… etc.  It is our chosen avocation, so without question we will “care” more than our players… even the most dedicated ones.

The goal is not to get your players to “care” as much as you do, that is unrealistic.  The trick, the goal, is to get more of your players, more invested in your program…. more of your players “bought in”.

How do you do that?

You use your skills daily to “sell”… your philosophy, your program, your game plan, your offense, your defense, your off-season program, your film study…. essentially every thing you do, to your players.

What skills?  The skills you must have to be an effective teacher and coach.

  • Your “product knowledge”  … how and why the way you are doing things is the best way.
  • Your communications skills…. you have to be able to articulate something as simple as a play concept to something as complex as your vision for them and the program.
  • Your motivation skills… you have to get a group of young men (or women) to believe in you, themselves, and their teammates.
  • Your work ethic… players will “buy in” if they see you are “all in”.
  • Your empathy… this will help you connect with your athletes.
  • Your energy level… I have never seen a great teacher/ coach that was boring.  Great teachers are enthusiastic and their enthusiasm is contagious, spilling over to other coaches and players.

How would you rate yourself in each of these areas?

The off-season is a great time for you as a coach to develop skills, to become a stronger coach, as well as your players.

Related posts:

Thanks again to PrepsKC , home of the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association, for running this column today.   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 –

Lombardi Sales Training

I am surprised how colleagues often bristle at the notion that as coaches, we are, to a degree, in sales… we are sales people.

I wrote about this last week in my post, Job Posting.

I actually came across the following clip to use in my post on Vince Lombardi’s 100th birthday, the The Lombardi Effect.

This film is a sales training film starring Vince Lombardi.  It was made in 1968 following the Packers 3rd  consecutive World Championship.  Parts of it are a bit hokey, but it has some great footage of Lomardi talking about five “motivators” from championship football that also apply to the sales field… some tried and true Lombardi axioms like “fatigue makes cowards of us all” and “Lombardi Time

I encourage you to take the time to watch the 25 minute film… it is full of Lombardi motivational quotes… unique because you actual see and hear Coach Lombardi say them.

If Vince Lombardi can see a correlation between football/ athletics and sales, then that is good enough for me … if Lombardi is selling, then I am buying!

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

Jeff Floyd –

Job Posting

Qualified candidate must demonstrate these traits:

  • Competitive
  • Naturally curious
  • Articulate
  • Confident
  • Good listener
  • Problem solver
  • Good storyteller
  • Reads people well – highly emotionally intelligent

So what job is this posting for?

classifiedI asked my wife (who is a sales executive) to list what traits she looks for in her sales staff.   The above list is what she supplied.  It is very similar to the qualities that I ascribed to being a great Coach in my previous post Coach=Teacher.


This does not surprise me….  as coaches and teachers we are constantly selling.

I am guessing we all have either thought about or talked about the importance of getting our kids to “buy in”.

If our athletes are “buying” then we must be “selling

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

Jeff Floyd –

Inside Russell Wilson’s Brain

Mental visualization is an extremely powerful tool your athletes can use to improve their performance.   Just this week Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson had this to say about using mental visualization as part of his game preparation:

“It [visualization] definitely translates in playing quarterback. It’s trusting myself and trusting what you see. When you’re playing quarterback, things happen so fast, especially when you’re playing a good defense like the 49ers.”

wilson trophy

Wilson says he tries to tries to envision every possible scenario in his mind and how to react to it if it comes up.

“I really believe it helps my game, and also, calms me.  I’ve already been there 100 times throughout the week, knowing those situations throughout every single play and different situations; end of half, end of game, third-down situations.”

“I anticipate those situations before they happen. That allows me to make quick decisions. I think it also gives me that sense of poise and grace under pressure. I really don’t worry too much. I trust my teammates, I trust the calls, I trust myself more than anything, and so I just go out there and play the game of football.”

For Wilson, it’s about believing in what you’ve already seen, on the field or in your mind.

“You drop back, hit your fifth step and you make a decision,  It’s either yes or no, and you make that decision and you just trust it. I think that’s what allows me to play fast.”

Here is how we taught the process of mental visualization to our athletes.   As with all things, the more our athletes practiced mental visualization, the better they became at using it, and the better the results.

  • Take ten minutes, in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
  • Take a defensive call, or offensive play from our game plan this week.
  • Picture yourself making the “perfect play”, from start (the call in the huddle) to finish, against this week’s opponent.
  • Involve all of your senses – in the first person.  You are not watching a movie of yourself making the play.  You are seeing it, hearing it, smelling it, feeling it, with all of your senses.
  • Think and phrase in positive manner – Thinking about “keeping your feet when making a great cut”, as opposed to thinking about “not slipping”.
  • See a clear detailed picture in your “minds eye
  • The more detail the better.  Smell the grass, feel the ball against your ribs, hear the crowd, feel the emotion.  The more senses you involve, and the more realistic you “paint” the picture, the more it will imprint.
  • Enjoy, feel, and experience the feelings and emotions that will be evoked when making the “perfect play

Although many of our athletes often scoffed at the notion of “mental practice” when we first began this process, it was always satisfying when those same athletes would tell us after a game that a particular play was “exactly like I visualized it this week!

Jeff Floyd –

“Suddenly” a Champion

There seems to be a need in our culture for instant gratification…

  • in-n-out-burger-logoBullet points (see I am doing it)…
  • Netflix on demand…
  • Instant weight loss…
  • Disneyworld FASTPASS…
  • Immediate success…
  • Miracle strength gains…
  • Instant Messaging
  • Amazing body transformations…
  • Spectacular turnarounds.

The thing is, that doesn’t happen often in athletics or real life.  More often it is small, consistent, incremental growth that takes place.  But that growth over an extended period of time leads to BIG changes.

Seth Godin described it this way last week in his post, Gradually, then suddenly:

This is how companies die, how brands wither and, more cheerfully in the other direction, how careers are made.

Gradually, because every day opportunities are missed, little bits of value are lost, customers become unentranced. We don’t notice so much, because hey, there’s a profit. Profit covers many sins. Of course, one day, once the foundation is rotted and the support is gone, so is the profit. Suddenly, apparently quite suddenly, it all falls apart.

It didn’t happen suddenly, you just noticed it suddenly.

The flipside works the same way. Trust is earned, value is delivered, concepts are learned. Day by day we improve and build an asset, but none of it seems to be paying off. Until one day, quite suddenly, we become the ten-year overnight success.

This is the way it works, but we too often make the mistake of focusing on the ‘suddenly’ part. The media writes about suddenly, we notice suddenly, we talk about suddenly.

That doesn’t mean that gradually isn’t important. In fact, it’s the only part you can actually do something about.

We speak to our athletes all the time about consistency…

  • Winning the small battles each day….
  • Winning each day…
  • Win enough days and you have won the week…
  • Win enough weeks and the season is yours….
  • Win enough seasons and a great career is possible.

Small battles… incremental growth… then “suddenly” you are a champion… “suddenly” you have a championship season… “suddenly” you have a championship program.

We know, of course, that it does not happen suddenly…. It happens gradually…. then suddenly.  The suddenly gets notices… the gradual is the reality of it… the daily grind.

Other posts that might interest you on this topic:

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

Jeff Floyd –

More on Staff Continuity

Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of Staff Continuity.  Today I will offer some examples from some very successful collegiate programs regarding coaching continuity.

A few weeks ago, Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, became the new head coach at the University of Washington.  Eight of the nine coaches that he hired had worked with him at Boise State.  New Washington defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski had this to say:

“I think that makes the transition flow easier.   You’re not trying to get to know guys and then put in a defense. We’ve already done most of it. … that is huge when we’re sitting in a room and we’re starting to put the defense together and make things go a lot quicker and a lot smoother and there won’t be as many bumps in the road.”

When Mark Helfrich took over at the University of Oregon for the departing Chip Kelley, he retained eight of their 10 coaches from 2012, and six of those coaches have spent more than a decade in Eugene.  Helfrich explained:

“I think that says a lot about our staff. It’s a tribute to them that they’ve instilled their faith in me and us… I look at that as nothing but a huge positive. We all get along really well. I was a graduate assistant here in ’97”

Oregon maintained their high level of play in 2013, finishing the season with an 11-2 record and a final ranking of #9 in the nation.

The continuity that Helfrich inherited pales in the comparison to that of another NCAA DI football program, Wofford.

Head coach Mike Ayers, recently completed his 25th season at Wofford.   Wade Lang, who Ayers brought with him in 1988 to be Terriers’ running backs coach was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1990 and has occupied that position ever since.  Nate Woody recently completed 22 years on staff, the last dozen as defensive coordinator, before departing for Appalachian State. His replacement, Jack Teachey, is in his 20th season on the staff. Offensive line coach Eric Nash has spent 10 years at Wofford.  Those coaches’ tenures pail in comparison to that of Joe Lesesne, who has spent 48 years on campus, the last eight of which as director of football operations.

This continuity has translated to 18 winning seasons in Ayers 25 years as head coach.

My final example of the importance of staff continuity is the story of Jerry Kill at the University of Minnesota.   Head Coach Jerry Kill’s battle with seizures this year has been well documented. For most programs and coaching staffs a situation like this would be a major upheaval to a normal game day and a really difficult thing to deal with for 85 young men.  The Gophers are lucky that they can say it will be “business-as-usual” each week, and that’s because Kill has had one of the most loyal and long serving staff of coaches in the country. kill

Coach Tracy Claeys, took over as head coach from the press box as part of his duties as defensive coordinator when Coach Kill was restricted due to his illness.  He has been on Kill’s staff since 1995 when he was a defensive line coach and has moved with Kill at every stop along the way as his defensive coordinator.

Offensive Coordinator Matt Limegrover has been with Jerry Kill’s staffs since 1999 himself, coming on board as the offensive line coach at Emporia State and being promoted to offensive coordinator/line coach when Kill took over at Southern Illinois.

They aren’t the only two long-term assistants on the staff either, as at least six other coaches have been on staff with Kill dating back to either Northern Illinois or before.

While there’s no doubt that Kill’s physical episodes are not something to be taken lightly, the Gophers were about as well equipped to deal with this situation as any staff could be.

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

Jeff Floyd –

Simple, Elegant… Genius!

Early this week I received an email from a colleague, sharing an idea that is pure genius.  Coach Shelby, from Skyline High School in Missouri forwarded me an email thread of a concept they call an Email Clinic.

The idea was started a couple of years ago my Coach Scott Bailey from Lamar High School, Missouri State champions in 2011, 2012, and 2013.  Here is Coach Bailey’s explanation of the concept, which he includes for each new Email Clinic.

“…all you have to do to participate is reply to everybody in this email with your comments.  That way we all get a chance to learn from each other.  Included in this email are administrators and coaches of all sports, small school and large school, public school and private school, all parts of Missouri and other states as well.  If you have someone that you think would benefit from this email clinic simply add them to the list when you reply.  Again, if we all contribute then we all have a chance to learn and improve…”

Currently there are over 100 coaches and administrators included on the list, representing almost 50 schools.  I have tried to display the schools location as accurately as possible on the accompanying map.

email clinic

Coach Bailey begins the thread posing a couple of questions, and any coach who chooses, responds… sometimes taking the clinic in a different direction all together.

I was sent the email after it being “live” for only three days… already there were 10 contributions from 7 different coaches…. excellent, thoughtful responses covering these topics:

  • Training toughness
  • Mental toughness
  • The importance of the Coach/Player relationship
  • Off-Season philosophy
  • Confidence
  • Weekly work schedule
  • Character education
  • Summer contact days
  • Developing a winning philosophy

Here is why I think this is genius… and why it is working so well.

  • There is an honest collegial feel with the coaches in this group… everyone that has been added was done so because they were “recommended”… someone thought they could add to the discussion.
  • Coaches want to share, and most have an area of expertise… an area they feel confidant and comfortable teaching.
  • The coaches feel comfortable responding… there is no formal presentation which eliminates the fear factor… fear of failure… fear of rejection… fear of public speaking… fears that are natural and present in most humans
  • It is high tech enough to be easy and quick… low tech enough to be cross-platform … no special software or expertise needed to participate
  • There is no time crunch… Coaches can add and view at their own leisure.

This is a simple, elegant idea from an amazing group of coaches that are not letting budget constraints, technology limitations, geographic distance, or selfish motives stop them from sharing and learning some really great ideas.  They are truly Doing More!

Jeff Floyd –

Staff Continuity

Typically, the more experienced team that you have returning, the greater your chance for success.  There is continuity among team members that have worked together….  a quarterback working with receivers, a center working with adjacent guards, long snappers working with holders working with kickers… etc.

continuityBut it is the nature of the game that each year one class moves on (graduates) and another “new” class of players joins the team.  Top tier programs will graduate most of their starters at the end of each season.   Maybe the best way to keep continuity in your program is not looking at the experience of your returning players, but concentrating on the joint experience of your coaching staff.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Robert Huckman (Harvard Business School) and Bradley Staats (University of North Carolina) cite evidence from a number of different fields that team performance improves when team members work together over time. “Team familiarity – the amount of experience individuals have working with one another – can influence how a group performs,” say Huckman and Staats. In most cases, the less team turnover, the better the results.

We know, perhaps only anecdotally, that this is the case with our coaching staffs.   Huckman and Staats examine why… specifically five key factors.   I have seen evidence of  each of these factors on high functioning coaching staffs that I have been a part of:

Coordinating activities – Teams whose members have different specialties are sometimes inefficient because of poor communication, conflict, and confusion. “Members new to each other simply don’t understand when and how to communicate,” say Huckman and Staats. “Familiarity can help a group overcome this obstacle; once a team has learned when and how to communicate on one project, it can carry those skills over to the next.

Learning where expertise lies – Each individual brings knowledge to the team’s task, but it takes time to learn who has useful information.

Responding to change – Teams have to respond to changing circumstances and new demands, and familiarity provides a common platform from which members can adapt and meet new demands.

Integrating knowledge to innovate – “Innovative solutions typically come from new combinations of existing knowledge,” say Huckman and Staats. “Because familiarity helps team members share information and communicate effectively, it makes them more likely to integrate knowledge and come up with coherent, innovative solutions.”

Staff continuity is critical, but not always an easy thing to accomplish.

I want coaches on my staff that aspire to be coordinators and head coaches.  I have been fortunate to have some great assistants that have worked with me in the past.  The difficult thing,then, becomes keeping them… they are constantly being poached away.  Position coaches becoming coordinators and coordinators becoming head coaches.

This leads to the final key factor cited by Huckman and Staats:

Capturing value – In a stable, cohesive team, “Each member’s performance is dependent on that of the others,” say Huckman and Staats. This means the loss of an individual won’t do grievous harm to the productivity of the group. It’s also possible that a valuable employee considering another job offer might decide to stay because of the warm embrace of the team.

So, possibly one of the best ways to keep a high functioning team (coaching staff) together is to consistently recognize the value of your teammates (coaches).

How are you presently doing this with your staff?  Do you make it hard for a staff member to take another job because they feel the “warm embrace of the team”?

Tomorrow more about staff continuity and how some championship programs accomplish it.

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

Jeff Floyd –

Data Driven

I have always driven by data.

Looking at the data for this blog gives me some insight as well.

Besides providing information on the posts that are most popular (see post “Top” posts “Best” posts ) it also lists who the top referrers are… people and web sites that have sent readers to my blog:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank these people, and in turn recommend them as a source of football specific information… just click on any of the above links for some great information!

Many times readers arrive at my blog, not due to being specifically referred by a trusted source, but by typing a search term in Google, Bing, Yahoo, or some other search engine.  Over 4,000 page views have been from people who have landed via one of these search engines.

06d7d91-2All told, there have been over 500 different search terms that readers have used to land at my blog.  The most popular search criteria were from coaches who were specifically searching for some form of defensive game day call sheet…. Over 360 views with 60 variations of that search term.  This data tells me that there a was a large group of football coaches looking for a good tool to use on game day, and my game planning posts resonated with this group.

There have also been some very specific search terms from coaches wanting to find a particular item:

These searches landed them (eventually) on the pages linked above, and hopefully provided information that was helpful to them.

Another group of terms looking for some very specific tech advice:

Other searches were a little less specific… a little more general:

Typically these turned up several pages of my blog as possible sources of information.

Others still were a little absurd:

These landed them on pages of mine that DID mention these things, but they were used as analogies … sorry to those I led astray.

Some general observations and reflections:

  • There is a lot of information available on the Internet
  • There are a lot of coaches, athletes, and parents looking for help, be it very specific, or more general.
  • Some people are hungry… ready to dig deep to find information that they want.  When I typed in some of these search terms, my blog did not always show up on the first page… often not even the second or third page of results.
  • Pretty much everything I have shared, was shared with me at one point in time…. that is why I freely share… that is what the “coaching fraternity” is all about.

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

Jeff Floyd –

The Hotel Lobby at the AFCA Convention

The original social network

Before Faceoook

Before Twitter

Before LinkedIn

Before Instagram

Before Texting

…there were thousands of coaches that yearly covered the Hotel Lobby floor at the AFCA convention, with a pocket full of business cards, a drink in their left hand, and their right hand poised… ready to shake the hand of the next coach they were introducing themselves to.

afca lobby

Networking… the old fashioned way.

This will all begin anew next week in Indianapolis as the nations coaches descend upon the Indiana Convention Center.

If you have not ever had the opportunity to attend the national convention of the American Football Coaches Association, I would put it on your bucket list.

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

Jeff Floyd –