Fast “Track” to a Great Football Program

I am going to piggyback on Cole Young’s post on the PrepsKC site from last week regarding the Ohio State football-recruiting tweet that recently blew up the Internet… the one that graphically displayed the fact that out of 47 recruits on their (OSU) squad, 42 were multi-sport athletes.

ohio state recruitingWhen I was at UCM and recruiting Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (DFW area) the first question that I asked high school football coaches (after confirming grades, test scores, and character) was “What other sports does Johnny-Joe play?

We always had great success recruiting multi-sport athletes… football/ basketball… football/wrestling… and especially football players that participated in Track and Field.

Here is the latest graphic, a sequel to the above chart, drilling even deeper into Urban Meyer’s and Ohio State’s recruiting philosophy, showing that out of those same 47 athletes on their squad, 33 ran track in high school.

ohio state trackAdmittedly, I am biased… I ran track at both the high school and collegiate levels, and have coached track at every public school I have been at. I know running track helped my football performance.

I am not bashing the other sports, and not picking on the other spring sports, but there are many things about participating in track and field that can help you become a better football player… or better at any other sport.   Speed (sprint events), Strength (throwing events), Explosion (vertical and horizontal jumps) are all qualities that every football coach is looking for in their athletes…. and Endurance (distance events) is a quality that may not be essential for football, but is for sports such as swimming, soccer, or wrestling.

There is also a factor about track that college recruiters (including me) love… it is an equalizer… it levels the playing field.   Here is what I mean.

It is sometimes difficult as a football recruiting coach to evaluate athletes at smaller schools, or athletes that play against poorer competition… you question how they would perform at a higher classification or against teams comprised of better athletes… frankly, often times when you request for a player from a smaller classification school to be “put on the board” you are sticking your neck out a bit with the head coach.

If an athlete participates in Track and Field it is different. Running a 10.45 FAT 100m dash is the same if an athlete from Osceola High School (1A) does it as one from Blue Springs High School (5A)…. the same goes for a 50’ shot put, 23’ long jump, or 6’10” high jump. While these standards may not show what kind of a football player you are getting, they do reflect athletic talent.

If you need any further evidence to the benefits of your football players participating in Track and Field, considers these examples:

  • In Texas (where many people believe it is football year round) 74% of the DI FBS signees this year ran Track.
  • This article details TCU’s recruiting philosophy, loading up their roster with Track stars.
  • This video shows the difference between Winston’s and Mariota’s 40 yd dash at the NFL combine this year.   Guess which one ran track in high school? Guess which athlete’s stock just went up?
  • And a great read via Coach Jeff Gourley (@Gourleyfootball)  – 10 Reasons to Join the Track Team

Bottom line… there is mounting evidence that shows that specialization does not make sense. Encourage your athletes to compete… and if they don’t already have a spring sport they are married to, introduce them to their new sweetheart… the track and field program at your school!

BTW… a great source of information regarding Track and Field coaching is @pntrack, the twitter feed of Plainfield North (IL) High School Track and Field.

Tomorrow check back here. I will have a post that includes an editable excel spreadsheet for 400m track workouts – both tempo endurance, and speed endurance workouts.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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Super Bowl (blame) Game

The Seahawks final offensive play of Super Bowl 49 has sparked much discussion. Most has revolved around “Why throw a pass from the one yard line when you have Marshawn Lynch in the backfield?”

blame gameHindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

What I would rather talk about is how the key players reacted and interacted with the media following the interception and ensuing loss… Specifically Russell Wilson, and Seahawk head coach Pete Caroll.

I have written a few times about my belief how coaches, as adult, emotionally mature leaders, should react to the public and media after facing some adversity… as well as what should guide their thinking and speaking when something good happens in their program – like a win! That post can be found here: Chain of Accountability , Chain of Praise.

In a nutshell, what I believe is that Coaches, as adults should hold themselves accountable when things are not going well, and give credit to their players (who even in the NFL are really just big kids) when good things happen.

After the game, Coach Caroll handled a horrible moment with dignity and maturity, answered every question, and telling his inquisitors,

“Put it all on me. My fault, totally,”

Carroll held himself accountable for the outcome of that play and the game.

Russell Wilson did the same, saying,

“The message from Coach Carroll was he took the blame for it… that it wasn’t my fault. I put the blame on me for not making that play. I’m the one who threw it. … I thought it was going to be a touchdown. I don’t question the call. I thought it was a good call.”

Being able handle situations as these two did demands some emotional maturity… emotional intelligence… It is evident that both Wilson and Carroll posses that level of EQ… emotional intelligence.

But, how does that happen… how do you teach that… coach that?

I found myself trying to do this… taking baby steps… with some middle school athletes at our school.

Sometimes it is easier to do this when you are not directly coaching the sport. I am not a basketball coach.   Our boy’s basketball team had an excellent season, and most of the players played football for me and have me in our Strength and Conditioning class.

After every contest it became routine for me to ask the players to “give me a recap” … whether I was at the game or not… just to get their perspective.   After one tough defeat, I asked a couple of players who were congregating in the hall before school for this recap

The first thing they told me was that they gymnasium was small… that is was an elementary school gym… and that several times our team made 3 point shots but were actually out of bounds… that the 3 point line was that close to the out of bounds line.  I asked them “was the opposing team playing on a different court?” After a few quizzical looks, the light bulb finally went on… and with a sheepish grin they answered, “No”.   I followed up by asking, “Well, that being the case, what could you have done better individually, and what could you have done better as a team?” And they responded with great, introspective answers.

Another time, after asking for the recap after a loss, one player responded, “They were lucky”. I asked if he had played the best game possible… and he answered, “No, I could have played defense better and rebounded better”.

I was trying to get them to focus on things that are in their control, and helping them see that they have some accountability.

As the season progressed, I saw their responses, and them, gain maturity… both in the losses and wins. Maybe this is how EQ is learned.

What I do see, though, is that the Chains of Accountability and Chain of Praise, run both ways… particularly on a healthy team.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Signing Day and Recruiting

This post is, of course, still very relevant this year. I am amazed each year with the flurry of recruiting activity (mainly from those student-athletes wanting to get recruited) during the month of January. This really is something that student-athletes (and their families) should be taking care of beginning with their 9th and 10th grade years. Hopefully this information will find its way into some of those young student athletes hands … and heads!

A Most Deserved HOF Induction

If you asked a group of young men to name an individual who had a profound effect on their life, I would suspect that many would come up with the name of a coach or teacher. That is without a doubt the case with me. Besides my family, that person would be my high school football coach, Fred Merrell.

Coach Merrell was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame this past week … he was inducted into the Missouri High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1993.

I had the opportcoach merrellunity to visit with Coach Merrell at a reception honoring his award this weekend. In true Fred Merrell,  self deprecating fashion, the first words out of his mouth after saying thanks for coming were, “I’m not sure why they picked me… I never won a state championship”.

 

I can tell you that there is no more deserving man to be honored by this selection than Coach Merrell. I had the unique opportunity to not only play for Merrell at Blue Springs High School for three years, but also coach with him for three years fresh out of college.

If you visit with anyone about Coach Merrell, the words “He is one of the finest men I have ever known” (or something similar) will enter the conversation. I know of NO ONE who thinks any differently.

Every day that I coach and teach, I think about Coach Merrell. Most of the good procedures and practices that I still employ can be traced back to him… from film study, to breaking down an opposing offense, to how to respectfully treat young men.

The main reason that I made my decision to attend William Jewell College and play football was because that is where Coach Merrell played.

I consider myself very fortunate to have played football for a coach like Fred Merrell, and doubly so to have been able to coach with him.

The reception this weekend held another pleasant surprise for me. Tom McSparren, a History teacher at Blue Springs High School, was in attendance. I had Mr. McSparren for several classes…Civil War, Ethnic Heritage, and sat with rapt attention in various others of his classes during my study hall. Being in Mr. McSparren’s classes made me want to study and teach History… which I did!

I am lucky. In the course of 30 minutes this weekend, I was able to visit with the man who I wanted to coach like (Fred Merrell) and the teacher I wanted to teach like (Tom McSparren)…and I was able to share with them both how important they have been in my life.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com