Paying Your Dues

Let me preface this post by saying that I have never been a fan of the phrase, or concept of, having to “pay your dues”… I think too often it is a convenient way of putting a young, often successful coach, “in their place”.

  • “That LB (or DB or RB or OL) coach isn’t ready to be a Coordinator yet…. he hasn’t really “paid his dues.””
  • “That Offensive (or Defensive) Coordinator isn’t ready to be a Head Coach yet… he hasn’t really “paid his dues.””
  • “That 1A (or 2A or 3A) Head Coach isn’t ready to be a 5A Head Coach yet … he hasn’t really “paid his dues.””

You get the idea.

But…

With that being said, I know there is great value in experience.
I have had several conversations in the last couple of weeks with high school administrators commenting on how it seems that many young coaches now need “instant gratification”. How these coaches often expect to be considered for a Head Coaching position (at LARGE high schools) after just a couple years of coaching experience… and are disappointed when not offered the position.

I have had similar conversations with Head Coaches reflecting on the same thing happening with assistants vying for coordinator positions… how some young coaches feel slighted if they are not offered a coordinating position… even if it is only their first or second year in the profession.

My career path was similar to most coaches of my generation.

  • Assistant at a large high school for several years
  • Coordinator at a smaller high school for several years
  • Head coach at a still smaller high school for several years
  • College GA
  • College Assistant for several years
  • College Coordinator for several years
  • Head College Coach

Had any of those steps been skipped, I would not have been as prepared for the next challenge.

Here are a few things from this experience that I would like to share with young coaches.

First, while I always thought I was ready for the next step, rather if it becoming a coordinator or a head coach, there were always things that I WAS NOT ready for… there was always much to learn. I am not saying I was not ready for the new position… but often you do not know what you do not know. I was always extremely glad for the experience I DID have, and always wished I had a little more.

1957Second, the best way to “move up” the coaching ladder is to do a GREAT job in the position you currently hold. I have been around coaches who are always looking toward the next job instead of concentrating on their current position. If your foot is always half way out the door on to your next position, it is difficult to develop meaningful relationships with the people you are currently around. Don’t shortchange your players, staff and administration.

And finally, be careful what you wish for.

As you ascend the coaching ladder, you will find that it becomes more administration, and less coaching.

I loved COACHING… enjoyed the bonds developed with my position group… with my defense.

Reflecting now, I would not change a single thing… I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the experiences I had with every team, at every city, at every level of play.

Love where you are and what you are doing.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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Back to the Future

Last Thursday (Chiefs vs Raiders – Thursday Night Football) I devolved into my 13-year-old self.

Let me explain.

I think there is some sort of “maximum emotional investment in a sports team” type of continuum.

And I think many of you can probably relate, based on where you are on this continuum.

Here is my theory… there is a limit… a cap… a max… as to how much one can emotionally invest in a sports team.

When you are young, and just becoming an avid sports fan, your world tends to revolve around your local (or favorite) sports team… for me that team was the Kansas City Chiefs.

From the time I can remember, until I was around 13 years old, my world WAS the Kansas City Chiefs. If they won, it was a good day and would be a good week… if they lost, it was about a week in a foul mood.

My family watched every game on TV (or listened on the radio… it was the era of TV blackouts), whenever we played sandlot football (every day) I was Otis Taylor, and any time I could attend a game in person, I was there!

My family had two season tickets to the Chiefs games… but I was 1 of 6 kids (plus my Father and Mother), and next to the youngest. Which meant that I always drew the short straw… I normally only got to go when the games were cold and wet… but that was still fine by me.

When I was 13 the Chiefs won the Super Bowl.

That was about when I started playing football in Junior High (Ervin) and then High School (Blue Springs).

When you start competing and playing on your own team, the amount of emotion you invest in your local (or favorite) team typically begins to wane, as you pour more of that into your own team.

I know that certainly was the case for me.

As I participated in High School, then College, then began coaching, my own teams were where I made the majority of my emotional investments… and remember there is a max as to how much one can invest… which meant my emotional involvement with the Chiefs became much lower… nearly non-existent.

When I was coach at the University of Central Missouri, my wife, Jamie worked at the local Hospital. Each week they would have a football pool, and her co- workers would come to her each week asking if I had given her any “inside skinny” any insight to the upcoming games.   She inevitably would laugh and tell them that she had more idea what was going on in the NFL and with the Chiefs than I did… which was absolutely correct.

Now flash forward.

A few years ago I found myself edging back towards where I was during the 60’s on the “maximum emotional investment in a sports team” continuum.

No longer needing to invest everything I had, 24/7, into my own team, freed up more “emotion” that could be invested elsewhere… namely back into to my Chiefs.

And that brings us back to last Thursday night… my de-evolution was complete.

Chiefs vs. Raiders

smith

dawson

But instead of Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis calling the game,it was Jim Nantz and Tony Romo …. Smith and Carr instead of Dawson and Lamonica…. nice big color TV instead of watching on a small, snowy black and white.

 

I was sitting, (standing, pacing) screaming at the TV like my 13 year old self… emotionally exhausted after the conclusion (Sam Mellinger from the Star summed it up best… The Chiefs won the game twice, but the Raiders won it three times) … replaying the “what-ifs” in my brain while attempting sleep after it was over.

 

Back to the Future… back to 1969.

I guess the one good thing is that I did not have to get up and go to Ervin Jr. High School the next morning!

Go Chiefs!

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Strength in Numbers

As coaches we sometime get caught up trying to get BIG improvement out of our athletes and out of our teams.  And that is OK, and expected…but, don’t forget that there is also strength in numbers.

Imagine …..

  • If everyone on your squad got just a little stronger
  • If everyone on your squad improved even a little on their ball handling skills
  • If everyone on your squad became just a little better at tackling
  • If everyone on your squad got just a little faster
  • If everyone on your squad became just a little better at bunting
  • If everyone on your squad improved his or her free throw percentage just a little
  • If everyone on your squad became just a little bit better technicians
  • If everyone on your squad improved his or her mental toughness even a little
  • If everyone on your squad reported to camp just a little better conditioned than last year
  • If everyone on your squad improved their batting average even slightly

You get the idea.

If everyone improves, even just slightly, it adds up to big team improvements… In strength, ball handling, tackling, speed, bunting, free throw percentage, technique, mental toughness, conditioning, or batting average.

Which leads to better team performance.

weakLinkThe key, of course, and the trick is, the “everyone” part of the equation.  Great teams have it figured out… Every team member has bought in and understands that their teammates are counting on them to improve, even if it is just a little…. the old “weakest link” adage.

 

As we are heading into our Fall seasons, what can you, your staff, and your team leaders do to insure that everyone on the squad feels the need to improve… even just a little?

You Can Do More (even just a little)… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Chase Perfection … 100%

When it comes to effort, 100% is IT…. it is the gold standard…. perfect… perfection… totally and completely spent…. nothing more to give…. everything…

Sorry, but there is no such thing asgiving 110%

The whole concept behind the phrase, the concept that drives this blog, You Can Do More!,  is that most of us don’t approach giving 100%.  When things get tough, physically or mentally, our brain goes into survival mode and we start shutting down and slowing down.  It is our job as coaches to get our athletes (and ourselves!) to ignore that lying brain and start inching closer to that magic 100% mark.

In 1959 during his first meeting with the Packer Quarterback group that included future Hall of Famer, Bart Starr,Coach Vince Lombardi had this to say:

“Gentlemen,  we’re going to relentlessly chase perfection knowing full well we will not catch it, because perfection is not attainable.  But we are going to relentlessly chase it because, in the process, we will catch excellence

lombardi chalk talk

Chase perfection… chase 100%… inch closer to it by doing more… even a little bit more… achieve excellence!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Improving through “Failure”

I became a better sailor today…. by “failing”

My cousin has a Hobie 14 catamaran that we have sailed on a small Missouri lake (Lake Tapawingo) for the past two years… probably 20+ times total.

We also sailed a Hobie 14 on Potrero Bay, in the Pacific Ocean of the shores of Costa Rica.  Here is a brief clip of that sail…

 

We have always sailed in conditions that were “comfortable” for us… about 10 knots of wind, both on the lake and ocean… and we have become very good at sailing this small/ quick boat.

We have never gotten into trouble, had any mishaps, and were feeling pretty confident about our skill level.

After our last time sailing in the ocean, we both agreed that we would like to test ourselves by sailing in some more extreme (windy) conditions.

Those conditions presented themselves yesterday (20+ mph winds) so we took to Lake Tapawingo to test our skills.

On our first trip across the lake… maybe 2-3 minutes into the sail we got tested.

The wind picked up and immediately capsized the Hobie. While we had read, and knew how to right the vessel, we had never been forced to do it.

As we gathered ourselves (and gear that was floating everywhere) the Hobie “turtled” on us … went completely upside down… mast pointing down into the water, bottom of the boat up.

turtle

After about 30 minutes of work (and with the help of two other boaters, one of which had experience sailing a Hobie) we were able to get the boat righted and started off.

Learning from our first mistake, we adjusted our weight on the boat to help prevent another capsizing and began sailing again…. and had several minutes of good sailing, putting to use our new knowledge of managing the boat in higher wind.

Then we got tested again…. another big gust and over we went!

This time, though, we got the boat righted immediately and were again on our way.

We had learned from our first “failure” and handled this challenge with relative ease.

A broken part on the rudder prevented us from continuing, or we may have been tested even more. As it was, we licked our wounds, dropped the sail, and ingloriously paddled the boat back to the dock.

At the dock we both debriefed… looking at what we could have done differently (better), what mistakes we made, and what we had learned.

We both agreed that, although we didn’t get a lot of sailing in that day, that we were glad we went out… that we tested ourselves.

It is only by getting out of our “comfort zone” that we can grow. It is only by testing our limits, that we can expand our limits.

I know now that I improved my Hobie sailing skills because of our “failures” that day.

Related Posts:

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”

Related Posts:

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.

Related Posts:

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.

Related Posts:

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!

Related Posts:

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!

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com