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

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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

Running an Effective Drill

ucmoIn my first season as a coach at the University of Central Missouri, during one of our first staff meetings, our Head Coach, Terry Noland gave us some advice.  His instructions regarding how to effectively run a drill were not only good advice to a young coach with eight years experience (me), but lasting concepts that have served me well for over thirty years.

  1. Have a name for the drill – that way when you run it successive times, you don’t need to spend as much time explaining it.
  2. Teach the athletes what technique(s) you are trying to improve with the drill.
  3. Have the drill set up prior to the athletes arriving at your station.
  4. Have an organized progression as to how the athletes move through the drill – for example “the first person in line will be the ball carrier.  You will go from being the ball carrier, to tackler, to the end of the line.
  5. Don’t be a part of the drill – Coach!
  6. Give the athletes specific instructions regarding the speed of the drill – Is it full speed, ½ speed, or walk through.
  7. Give the athletes a specific start point for the drill.
  8. Give the athletes a specific end point for the drill.

These are simple concepts that make for effective daily teaching.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Well Coached

Well Coached…

What does a well-coached team look like?

  • Few mental errors or penalties…
  • Good clock management…
  • The players are in shape…
  • Good knowledge and execution of their offensive and defensive systems…
  • Solid kicking game…
  • Great fundamentals…

Doing all the “little things” needed to be successful.

You would assume that all SEC teams, especially two that were both ranked in the top 5 in the country would be equally “well-coached”.

Well not so fast.

A couple of weeks ago Alabama (1) played Texas A & M (5)… a game which featured these two top ranked teams… Alabama ended up cruising to a 33-14 victory.

It is my contention that while both teams’ rosters are filled with great athletes, only one of these teams was truly well-coached… only one of these teams did all the “little things” needed to be successful.

In a clip from the show SEC Film Room, Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson discusses how they picked up several “tells” from the A & M offensive line… specifically how their offensive tackle’s stance gave away if the play was a run or pass. (Thanks to Coach Cooper – @GorillaMyscles for helping me locate this clip)

run-pass

This is basic stuff.

Maybe it is no wonder that A & M lost three straight games after this.

And guess what Alabama Coach Nick Saban said his team was going to focus on during the bye week following their defeat of Texas A & M?

  • Attention to detail…
  • Fixing some “little things”…
  • Fundamentals….

Needless to say, Alabama is a well-coached football team.

Related Posts:

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?

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

Recruiting Seminar Thanks

Thanks to all who attended and helped at today’s recruiting seminar, Level the Playing Field, held this morning at William Chrisman High School.

As I mentioned, most of the information can be found on this site via this link:

Recruiting Links

A copy of the PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded from this linkL

Level the Playing Field

It is just the slides from the presentation, without any of my comments or external links, but it will give you much of the information (like questions to ask your recruiting coach, and questions to expect from a coach on an initial visit)

If you don’t have access to PowerPoint (or don’t like using it), I converted the presentation to this movie below.  Again, there are no outside links (although the embedded video does play) or comments from me, but you can navigate (push play/pause) to get information from the slides.

In addition to these written posts, I have recently launched my YouTube Channel that deals specifically with the recruiting process.  The channel can be found here : The YouCanDoMore YouTube Channel, and the complete playlist can be viewed here.

 

If any coaches are interested in bringing this presentation to their schools, give me a shout and I can give you some more information about it.  At William Chrisman it was presented to all student-athletes and their parents.

The seminar, Level the Playing Field is designed to empower students, coaches, and parents in regards to the recruiting process.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Planning YOUR Off-Season

Typically, Coaches are pretty good planners

We have our practice plans

We spend hours each week game planning

We have a plan for our offensive and defensive insertion.

How much time to you spend planning your off-season work?

Not the off-season workout your squad will be doing, but YOUR off season.

Do you have a plan on how YOU and YOUR PROGRAM are going to improve over the next 7-8 months?

For many of us at this time of year the pace begins to slow a bit… we can finally catch our breath, and gather our thoughts.

It is tempting to use a big chunk of this time period to “recover”… it is easy to head into YOUR off-season with the “plan” of “going to a lot of clinics to learn more football”.

Like every other aspect of your program, if you formulate a specific, detailed, goal-oriented plan for YOUR off-season, you will be more productive… you will see better results.

This is what has worked for me… keep in mind that I like data, and like to base decisions on data.

The first step is to conduct an end of the season analysis on both sides of the ball and the kicking game.   These are the defensive categories we always looked at… there are, of course, corresponding items for the offensive side.

  • Down and distance efficiency
  • Efficiency of each front/ stunt and coverage
  • Efficiency in field zones
  • Big plays
  • Bust plays
  • Mistakes

For our staff, it was always pretty easy to compile this data, because each games film was graded using the method and tool I describe in this post: Film Grading Tool

As a head coach, coordinator or position coach, I would look at this data to help determine our needs in the off-season… what needed to be our area of emphasis… what were the main areas we needed to see improvement in.

The next step is determining where to look for answers… where can you get help. I think there are three main sources that are available… 1) Online 2) Clinics and 3) Spring Practice visits

clinicWhile there is abundant information easily available online, I always considered the most productive learning we spent as a staff was either visiting a college during spring break or attending live clinics where a number of speakers/ topics were presented.   The more live, interaction, and Q/A that was possible the better…. It made it possible to drill down into the information to see if would fit the needs of our program.

Armed with our self-analysis/ self-scouting data we determined what clinics to attend (looking at speakers and topics) and where we wanted to visit during our spring break (see post – The Most Productive Spring Break).

Our staff at each clinic (because most clinics had multiple speakers speaking at the same time) would be very deliberate as to which coach would attend what speaker… basically “divide and conquer”. After each day at the clinic, we would debrief, with each coach discussing main points of the speaker’s presentation.

As a staff, we would then determine… and this was maybe the most important part of the process… what (if anything) we wanted to implement into our current defensive (or offensive) scheme or teaching. In making this decision we were always very careful to make sure that if we were changing or adding anything that:

  • The change fits into our current philosophy
  • There was good evidence that the change or addition would improve our team in the areas of emphasis determined by our self-analysis. We did not ever want to make a change just because something was the “flavor of the month

There are many great schemes, systems, techniques, workout programs, etc. out there. Information is readily available and easily accessible. There are many ways to “skin the cat”. Be focused this off-season… have a PLAN for improvement, work your plan and you will see the results next season!

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com