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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Body Language

At my current stage in life (retired) I am able to get out and watch a LOT of football games. In the last two weeks I have attended 3 high school games, 2 college games, and 1 middle school football game.

I have begun really studying something as I attend these games.

Not X’s and O’s…

Not scheme or systems…

Not technique…

I have really been paying attention to body language… the body language of the athletes on (and off) the field.

Here is a distillation of my thoughts.

I am not sure if you can fake body language… it is like a lie detector test … a non-fiction documentary film on how you are really feeling… feeling on a deep, inner level.

It shows how you will react to adversity… and how you will react to success.

Body language never whispers… it screams!

I can pretty much tell if an athlete’s “hype” is real, or just show… and not by observing when they are getting “hyped”, but observing their body language the rest of the time… when their real “film” is playing.

body languageIt seems that body language must be hard to change… maybe because it is not taught, stressed or coached.   The reason I say this, is that I have observed athletes that I have been around in middle school and high school, that are now participating in high school and college ball. The same athletes that had issues with “body language” in middle and high school are having identical  problems in high school and college.

After hearing TV commentators talk about the body language of a former player, I turned to my wife and said “we had the very same issues with him in middle school!”

I suppose that body language is so hard to change because people develop and “practice” it daily over the entire course of their lives… it become really ingrained in their being. It may be hard for the athlete to realize what exactly their body language is “saying” and how it is perceived by teammates and coaches. To see and understand this, an athlete needs to have a very good self-awareness, which demands a pretty high level of maturity.

I know as a coach, I didn’t spend a lot of time teaching or coaching body language. About the closest I came to it is demanding that my players physically “keep their heads up”… adding that “If an opponent sees you with your head down, you are beat.”

So that leads me to the somewhat, but not totally rhetorical question of “Do you teach/ coach “body language” and if so, how/ what do you do?”

Comment or shoot me an email… I am really interested in your thoughts on this subject.

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

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Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

Fairy Dust

Let me preface this by saying that I have never been a big Urban Meyer fan.

I really don’t know why that was… and I say WAS because a couple of things happened this past week that made me feel a little more akin to Coach Meyer.

The first was Coach Meyer’s response to a statement made last week by Tom Herman (OC under Meyer at Ohio State) not being able to “sprinkle fairy dust” on the Texas Longhorn team he inherited from Charlie Strong (DC under Meyer at Florida) following a loss in his debut against Florida.

“C’mon man. I don’t know where that came from,” Meyer said during an interview with CBS sports “It’s like a new generation of excuse. Herman said, ‘I can’t rub pixie dust on this thing.’ He got a dose of reality. Maryland just scored 51 points on you.”

 

“Players read that,”

 

“That’s like, when I got here, everybody wanted me to say Jim Tressel left the cupboard bare,” Meyer continued. “If I heard any assistant coach say that, they’d be gone. You’re done. “

 

“Those are your players. I hear TV guys say, ‘Wait until they get their own players in there.’ They’re our players. What do you mean ‘their players?’ The minute you sign a contract, they’re your players.”

 

“You didn’t choose me, I chose you. You’re mine, absolutely. I love you, and I’m going to kick the s**t out of you, and we’re going to do it right …”

 

“[Blaming players] drives me insane.”

There was much back and forth banter on the TwitterSphere debating whether or not Coach Herman was just using “figurative language” or his comments were disparaging in regards to the previous UT staff.

I know what I though the minute I heard the comment… exactly what Coach Meyer thought.

I have written about this before in this post… Chain of Accountability, Chain of Praise… about two different ways leaders can respond to adversity and success.

While it does not “drive me insane,” it does make me cringe whenever I hear coaches (or leaders) blame players for losses. I think it shows lack of maturity … lack of leadership… it’s the easy way out.

The second thing that came to light this week was Urban Meyer sharing how a “gift” he has is also a curse. Meyer talked about how his “gift” of being an obsessed, perfectionist, competitor led to his anxiety, sleep deprivation, and poor health… Something, I am sure, many reading this column can relate to… but more on that in a later post!

And now a quick (but shameless) plug for my new project, the YouCanDoMore YouTube Channel … a resource for players, parents, and coaches to help better understand and navigate the collegiate recruiting process.

This post – The YouCanDoMore YouTube Channel, has links to the most recent episode and a playlist of all the episodes currently uploaded.

I hope you can take the time to watch and share this link to colleagues, players and parents. Your help is appreciated!

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Little Things = Big Fixes

Do you need to make some BIG fixes to your squad?

My suggestion is … focus on the “little things”.

I think many times as coaches it is easy to get caught up thinking that some “shiny” new scheme might be the answer to woes your team may be experiencing… maybe adding a play… introducing a new “wrinkle”… a different pre-game routine… any enticing “magic bullets” that might be available.

But alas, there are no magic bullets.

If you examine what successful teams are doing, and how they are doing it, I think you will find that regardless of scheme, the good teams… the GREAT teams are well coached. Well-coached teams do all of the “little things” very well.

Here is a checklist of “little things” that I have used as a self-evaluation at different times during the season

Penalties

  • How many are you accruing?
  • What type?
  • How can you improve in this area?
  • Are you allowing or correcting these things during practice?

Film… examine/ study and GRADE film of your players… of both practice and game.

  • How is their technique?
  • Are they aligned correctly?
  • Do they execute their assignments correctly?
  • Do they give good effort?

If you are not examining these things during the week by evaluating practice film, do not expect much improvement during the game.

Here is a link to my thoughts on grading film – Film Grading

And here is an editable film grading tool that you can download and use to streamline your film grading and evaluation: Film Grading Tool

And here is a video that explains the features of the tool and how to use it:

Game plan

  • Was it correct… did your opponents do what you anticipated?
  • Did your coaches have input, understand, and buy into the game plan?
  • Did your players understand the plan?
  • Did you execute the plan… if not, where was the breakdown?

Here is a link to all of my posts on game planning: Defensive Game Planning, All Posts, Forms, and Videos

Practice Time

  • Are you efficiently using your practice time?
  • Do you set a daily practice schedule?
  • Do your coaches know what to expect prior to practice?
  • Do your players know what to expect prior to practice?
  • How much time are you allocating in each area… fundamentals, game plan, special teams, etc.?

Here is a link to my thoughts on practice planning: Practice, Not a Minute to Spare

Here is a post about our weekly work schedule: Weekly Workflow

And a practice schedule template you can download: Practice Template

Coaching staff

  • Are you efficiently using your coaches during practice?
  • Are you efficiently using your coaches during the game?
  • Do your coaches understand your scheme?
  • Are your coaches doing a good job of teaching your scheme and techniques?

How is effective is your communication from coaches to your players?

  • Play calling
  • Signaling
  • Sideline adjustments
  • Substitutions

How effective is your communication between your coaches?

  • Press box input
  • Between each series
  • Adjustments

Here is a post on Game Organization – Game Procedures

How effective is your kicking game? How much practice time are you allocating to special teams?

Often fine-tuning and focusing on a few of these “little things” can give you the BIG fix that you are looking for.

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

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

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

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.

Related posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com