By James Vint, via American Football International
Here we’ll share points 1-5, with a link across to 6-10 included below!
Before I even start this, I must preface by saying that I am battling every day to be a better coach.
I am not on a soapbox preaching. I am talking to myself in the mirror in this article. Many of the things I am about to talk about are things I need to continually improve. I am lucky to be surrounded by a great group of coaches who hold me accountable everyday to being better than I was yesterday.
1. Coach Every Single Rep
Great coaches are willing to coach every single rep! Every time a player takes a rep, say something to him to help him get better. If his stance wasn’t good, tell him. If his hands weren’t in the right place, tell him. If his eyes were on the ground, let him know. The worst thing you can do is not say anything.
Back when I was first getting into coaching I had the opportunity to watch Tyrone “Moe” Murrayfrom Kennedy High School in the Bronx, coaching his lineman. Moe was a master of talking to his guys every single time they took a rep. He never took a rep off. Kennedy’s offensive line was unbelievable. Moe coached those guys with a relentless attitude. He loved each and every one of them and they knew it. He coached them to be great every single day. They had some very, very talented lineman, but even the guys who weren’t talented were very technically sound. They also played with an edge.
Reps are a valuable commodity, like money. You are only allotted a certain amount each day, week, and season. Every time you use a rep without coaching something, you have thrown it away. You have cheated the player you are working with because he did not receive immediate feedback. It fires me up to go to a practice and see a coach not talking to his guys. There are guys at all levels who do this. They waste reps each and every day.
I was at a practice a few years back and saw a coach leaning on the chute. He couldn’t even see the feet of his lineman. His body language said, “it’s time to relax and I don’t really want to be here.” I am big on posture. How you stand matters. If you have poor body language your players are more likely to do this as well. During the drill he said very little to his guys. In fact, I think all he said was “set go.” He never made his guys better.
As football season begins we all have a choice. We can choose to be passionate or to be lazy. We have a choice to coach them every rep or to take reps off. We coach them to improve or we can let them get worse.
2. Improve Your Craft
Schedule 30 minutes a day to watch drill tape of the position he coaches. Spend a few $ and order a couple of instructional videos from really good coaches. Watch 30 minutes of video each day and take notes. There are no exception to this. Make the time to improve your craft. When the spring comes around attend at least on clinic and watch coaches who speak on your position group. Watch several speakers and take great notes.
At clinics I am always looking for one thing that can help me improve. I want to find one new drill, or one new coaching point that I can use with my players. The internet has put information in our hands very readily, and it needs to be taken advantage of. There is no excuse for not being able to learn more about the position you coach. I once worked with a guy who complained that I went to too many clinics each year. He said it wasn’t fair that I got to go and he didn’t. But the funny part was that he never once asked to go to a clinic. When he was invited to go (For Free) he said no. He didn’t want to improve and he tried to keep others from improving. He didn’t last very long on our staff. Stay away from guys who don’t have desire to get better.
3. Coach and Correct Mistakes
Never be afraid to tell an athlete what he did wrong and how to fix it. Never let a mistake go without fixing it. Correction is caring. Correction is the ultimate form of love. It tells your athlete you care about him enough to help him be his best. If he stepped with the wrong foot, tell him. If his eyes weren’t where they were supposed to be, tell him. “Here is where your eyes were, and here is where they should be.” Tell him the mistake and the correction. Keep correction the mistake until he gets it right. If the mistake continues, find a new way to correct it. Don’t come in the office and say, “Mike keeps screwing it up. I keep telling him, but he just won’t do it.” Find a new way to teach it. Great coaches figure out how to communicate with each player in a way they understand. They never give up on teaching that player.
4. Encourage Your Players and Fellow Coaches
Constantly reinforce to your players when they do something well. Even when you correct them you can encourage. Tell them you believe in them and that if they keep working they will do it right. If you constantly beat them down they will not improve. They will eventually tune you out. Build them up every single day.
Do everything you can to help promote your players and fellow coaches. Help the guys in your program to advance personally and professionally. Help promote your players to college coaches. Help the guys you work with to advance. When I was an OC I took great pride in helping every position coach I worked with get an OC job if they wanted one. It was awesome to see them advance themselves and be able to grow.
5. Coach Them to Greatness
Coach them to what you want them to be and they will get there. If you see a guy as a future all-state player, you will coach him that way. If you see him as a lifetime 7th grade B team player, that is exactly how you will coach him. I hate hearing a coach talk about how a player can never improve. Or they downplay a kid because he is a terrible athlete. He may not be a good athlete, but he can be better than where he is right now. But he will only get better if you coach him every play. If the kid is at practice working hard, coach him to be better. The only kid you can’t coach is the kid who isn’t there. Every other kid deserves our best! And darn it, you need to believe in them. You have to believe in them before they will believe in themselves!
See the remaining keys to great coaching over at AmericanFootballInternational.com