Sorry guys for the opening thread, I hit enter by mistake. We have a high school program here in Georgia that has been struggling for many years under several head coaches. I along with many other parents of 8th grade student athletes want to become part of the solution. We offer our time, our dedication, and our resources to help turn it around. Our JV and Varsity football program has slots for 12 coaches; we have 5. Our administration I think will cooperate but they seem motivationally impaired. Our academics are the best in the state and I feel they use that as a crutch pitting academics against athletics. I see no "either or" philosophy as being applicable. While playing for the Naval Academy under George Welsh we went to 2 Bowl games. Good athletics and good academics should not be mutually exclusive. (Navy has rededicated its program with Paul Johnson and looks for good things to come in the near future.) Working with the current administration and coaching staff please give us some proactive ideas to get our program turned around.
Coach, Thanks for your input. We have a very supportive Parent Booster Club here, so hopefully we can get this program going. We want to stress to the administration that athletics is also vitally important for the growth of our students. Our student athletes have to be given the tools and opportunity to succeed or we are not giving them every advantage we can for their future. We expect our students to make 110% efforts. How can we accept anything less from the administration and coaches?
Any good ideas on attracting good athletes to the football program. The program has been so poor for so long it is not held in high regards.
Personal Coaching Expectations and Leadership Philosophy
The purpose of this team is to develop student-athletes in three dimensions - the HEART, the MIND, and the BODY, allowing for the maximum output of potential; building champions in all areas of life.
Our vision for this program is to get more out of you (the athlete) than you ever thought possible – To be part of something bigger than yourselves - To win the right way, with reckless attention to detail and an unwavering pursuit of perfection. We will play fast. We will play physical, and we will have FUN! We will be excellent.
Coaching the Heart
"And the greatest of these is love." This well-known quote highlights our programs' most vital attribute, our characteristic of utmost importance…LOVE. We must have love; love for each other, our school, our community, and for the game. According to Jeff Duke in his book 3D Coach (2014), we as coaches must "Be prepared to step into their (our athletes) hearts and help them reclaim the joy they may have lost" (Duke, 2014, p. 125). We must be willing to be unselfish and do likewise for our teammates - playing for the guy next to you, for his glory, sacrificing self and trusting our teammates to do the same.
Trust begins with building positive relationships with our players and between the coaching staff as well. When our players experience our investment in them as people first and a football player second, they will know that we care about them as individuals and what we are striving to accomplish in this program is of extreme value to them as young people navigating the ups and downs of life. This is the foundation of our building and sustaining relationships philosophy: to know our kids on a personal level - balancing positive, specific, and constructive feedback and rewarding behavior that aligns with our standards as a program. Coaches that cannot align with this philosophy will be encouraged to grow in this area, or they will not have the privilege to be a part of our culture. Relationships are far too vital to have conflicting philosophies on our staff.
Beyond the field, I want to know what's going on in the lives of those I serve. Taking time to meet with them and just talk "life" is essential. I want to know what's going on, so I know how I can help. My home will be open to my players. They are extensions of my family. Specific leadership training opportunities will also be presented during the year (see "culture/leadership playbook"). Studying various resources pertaining to leadership generates a desire in our athletes to take ownership of their team, leading each other not just by word, but in our actions.
Our team will be a positive example not only on the field but in our community as well. We will include everyone we can in "us". This involvement will manifest itself in our willingness to serve others and include them in as extensions of our team. Our community must see that we are more than simply a team that performs without purpose; we are all part of each other. It is a priority to teach and apply the characteristics of servitude and to build and maintain a positive reputation in our community. We will seek out and find opportunities to serve others in our school, neighborhood, and the community as a whole. Service to others is a skill we want our players to embrace and enjoy.
Coaching the Mind
Conquering the minds of our athletes is one of the most important tasks required by coaches today, and it does not receive the just attention it deserves. Psychology is vital to sport. Athletes today face pressures from multiple realms of life. Eliminating distractions and the paralyzing effects of fear, anxiety, outside pressures, and insufficient confidence determines our outcomes in life and on the football field. We must teach them how to cope. We must build a confidence in our athletes that supersedes these pressures; freeing our athletes to PLAY the game they love. Providing our student-athletes with practical and immediately applicable mental tools and resources to use in all areas of life is essential to positive outcomes. We all respond to events in our lives; it's the quality of those responses that determine our outcomes. Our teams must be a trusting family in which we are free to make mistakes without fear of failure. Coaches must be living examples of this approach; emulating this to our players each day.
Today, more than ever, coaches have to teach the basics of our game to our athletes. This may seem obvious or unnecessary to some; however, there has been a paradigm shift in this generation with regard to "common knowledge" of sport. Many young people simply don't watch or study the game like generations of the past did in their free time. Today's youth seem to have more stimulating options, (i.e. social media, video games, and other various demands on their time). Rarely do today's athletes spend the weekdays and/or weekends actually watching the sport(s) they compete in. This severely affects athletes' general perceptual and technical knowledge of their game, especially with regard to situational play. Therefore, we will take time to teach the game before each practice, holding team and/or individual group meetings. This will force our on-field time to be extremely efficient. The benefits outweigh the costs in this situation. We will learn it, practice it, and perfect it.
Coaching the Body
Our staff in conjunction with the strength and conditioning professional in the building will seek, study, and implement to the extent possible, a strength and conditioning program that is at the cutting edge of the industry; studying what the best teams do and incorporating researched-based methodology into our program. We want functional football players; not tight, immobile, straight line “athletes”. Educating our players on proper nutrition, responsible supplement use, and providing them with individual strength and conditioning plans (when necessary and applicable) will be a point of emphasis. Taking such a precise approach to our athletes' physical well-being will give us one more advantage on our competition.
Our staff will encourage and financially support to the extent possible, an opportunity for our athletes to attend team, and when applicable, individual camps that will improve their overall skills and help our team succeed. Team camps will feature a destination site of choice during the summer and will be a great experience that combines team bonding activities and quality scrimmage, installation, and instruction time for our student-athletes. If proved to be more feasible and applicable, the Head Coach may opt to host a resident expert on site to assist with installation and provide additional expertise to the staff and players concerning specific offensive, defensive, and/or special teams’ schemes.
Individual camps that present our student-athletes the opportunity to improve relative to their position specific skills will be supported. However, the Head Coach will help student-athletes to choose camps that correlate to the types of techniques and philosophies that we are teaching and installing in our program. The idea of attending an individual camp that emphasizes techniques (though they are likely solid and reputable) that we do not teach in this program will be discouraged, as they are unproductive to success within our specific schemes, techniques, philosophies, etc. We will run very specific systems in our program that require rigorous attention to detail. Re-teaching or "unlearning" contrary techniques is not something that will help us win football games.
A combination of the Command Coach and the Cooperative Coach is where I currently identify myself. In his book Successful Coaching (2012) Rainer Martins states, "In the command style of coaching, the coach makes all the decisions. The role of the athlete is to respond to the coach's commands...This style of coaching is the dominant model carried forward from the past" (Martins, 2012, p. 28-29). I'm convicted to begin each season as the Command Coach. I must get our program's "nuts and bolts" in order and there can be no deviation from the task at hand. Players and coaches must align in order for us to achieve our maximum potential. Without proper organization, planning, and delegation of responsibilities, we cannot start the season off productively or efficiently. The foundation must be laid and it must be sturdy and constant year in and year out.
Building and maintaining our teams' infrastructure is not limited to a certain amount of time. It takes as long as it takes. WE MUST DO THE WORK. Once our culture is established, our staff can shift our approach to more of a Cooperative Coach – "providing the right balance between directing athletes and letting them direct themselves" (Martens, 29). Players must work within themselves and through our leadership and guidance to utilize and apply the strategies and tools that we provide to take ownership of their own behaviors, learning to self-regulate from within. We must allow those whom we lead to be leaders themselves, giving them the opportunity to take ownership of the team. Individually and collectively they must develop their identity with regard to their actions, individual commitment, and team outcomes. Great teams are those who identify this opportunity, seizing this moment in time. Champions in life are those who are able to tap into and extract maximum potential in body, mind, and heart.
Culture and Leadership Playbook (The Pillars of our Culture)
1. Offer your best mental energy!
2. Offer your best physical energy!
3. Move past your comfort zone...and love it!
Outcome = This is the difference between winning or losing consistently
1. Look people in the eye and address them by their title.
2. Choose discipline over default behavior. (No BCD's)
3. Use positive self-talk with your teammates and yourself when things get hard.
Outcome = We will know, and others will know that we set the tone for “above the line” behavior
1. Be where “we” are!
2. Talk to people, not about them
3. Preform how you are coached; allow your teammate to do the same!
Outcome = Individuals become a dedicated loving group that refuses to let each other down.
The “What” of Our Culture:
What is culture? What is the purpose of culture? Culture is certainly a popular buzzword amongst teams, organizations, and businesses alike today, but how many entities have a plan and a specific system for generating culture? I do. We will implement what I believe to be the most powerful and life-changing culture building programs in the market today, "Focus 3's R Factor and Lead Now" programs. www.focus3.training/usafootball/
This program will provide our student-athletes and coaches with specific strategies that build and sustain culture year in and year out. Access to this program provides two elite programs, 16 skill courses, 80 chapter lessons, and 5+ hours of exclusive content to lead this journey. Average coaches use quotes. Good coaches have plans. Elite coaches use systems. I have a system and it's ready to go.
The “Why” of Our Culture:
Culture is what drives any group, team, or organization. It is what you practice, what you promote, and what you permit. It is not what is written on fancy signs, posters, mission statements, core values, or other propaganda. Culture is what is actually believed, behaved, and experienced by those in your organization. The purpose of culture is to drive behavior that wins. Culture is NOT created to make people feel good. Cultures that seek to please everyone, go against the physics of reality. You can't hold people accountable to a standard that doesn't exist. Average cultures simply do not produce elite results! Elite cultures start with elite behaviors from leaders. More talented teams underperform because of leaders, culture, and behavior than any other reason. Game plans and techniques will always struggle if the culture doesn't drive the discipline required to execute it. A strategy is common; Culture wins championships! The good news; there is plenty of room at the "elite" level because not many are willing to do the work to get there. I am committed to doing the work with my staff to become elite.
The “How” of Our Culture:
Weekly culture training in the Spring for incoming seniors
Team culture training daily during summer workouts
Weekly culture lessons/themes with daily emphasis on specific behaviors that align with our personal and program standards.
Lead our players and staff through a program with timeless principals that are applicable to life far beyond the football field. We will build better sons, future husbands, and fathers.
Once established in our program, offer this training to athletes and/or staff across the district in an effort to help build elite culture across the entire district.
Mental Training and Psychology Playbook
Having a mentally strong team that can apply specific researched-based strategies will help give us an advantage over our competition and give us valuable training for the rest of our lives as we will inevitably face challenging circumstances. This is actual implementation for those that believe sports can be a microcosm of life.
1. Follow the progression through the curriculum which includes:
The Confident Athlete
The Composed Athlete
The Focused Athlete
The Fearless Athlete
The Relaxed Athlete
2. Utilize my own personal experience leading players in the area of sports psychology as learned and practiced through my Master's program in Coaching and Athletic Administration program.
Program Management Philosophy
Detailed below you will find my personal management philosophy for my programs and the student-athletes for the teams that I will coach. This is a working document that will be analyzed continually for both updates and continued relevance. As I grow as a professional in the area of leadership and coaching, I will certainly feel the need to adjust this philosophy accordingly. As it stands, the latter details a categorical representation of where I stand philosophically as a Head Football Coach.
Be On Time for Everything
1. To be on time is to be five minutes early.
2. You are considered late if you show up at a meeting or practice start time. Consequences will follow.
3. To be late is a violation of team rules
a. Schedule all appointments outside of practice time (exceptions may be entertained) 4. Do not miss practice!
1. Learn to accept constructive and honest criticism (an uncomfortable life skill)
2. Question coaches with a respectful tone if you have a disagreement (you may always RESPECTFULLY ask “Why”) – It’s our job as a staff to know the “why” behind all we do.
3. Spend time on your own working on personal fundamental weaknesses (average players do what everyone else does)
4. Understand the "why" when given instruction (if you don’t understand what’s being said ASK!)
5. Be willing to play a role to better our team (football is the ultimate team game…everyone matters!)
6. Understand that criticism is not a personal attack. It is performance-based in nature and if we are criticizing your performance, it means that we believe in you and you can do better.
Study the Game
You must watch the game, study the game individually, pay attention in team meetings, and take initiative to make yourself better throughout the year. Showing up for practice and games is not enough to be excellent. The season is long, but practice time becomes very limited, we must put in time on our own. Study those who do what you do better than you do it and get better.
Take Care of Yourself
1. Body – Fail to take care of your body and it will betray you.
a. We will provide nutritional education in our program.
b. Players will be expected to follow the basic requirements for hydration, workout recovery, and strength training.
c. Players will need to prioritize sleep!!! Get 8 hours per night! (actually, 9.15 is the recommended) jamesmaas.com/
2. Mind – Set your minds on things that build up and not things that tear down.
a. This program needs the best you that you can be.
b. Envision great things! Expect great things!
3. Spirit – Find a greater purpose than yourself!
a. Seek stability and find security in things and/or people that you can trust.
b. Spend time with people that build you up and have a genuine concern for your well-being
Be "All In"
1. You decided to join this program, commit to the commitment.
2. Special teams move with one heart, one voice, and one love. Do you have what it takes to set aside yourself for the betterment of another?
3. If you can't keep up with "us", we will find a way to do "us" without you. Alignment with our culture is an absolute necessity. If you don’t fit our culture, that’s OK. We’ll shake hands and go our separate way. It doesn’t make you a bad person; it just means that you weren’t willing to do the work to be one of us. You are always welcome back if you change your mind, but our leadership may require you to meet certain expectations to rejoin.
Non-negotiables in Our Prgram
(Things that will not be tolerated - these are behaviors that LOSE!)
Quite simple: Care about every day and maximize your potential in every opportunity. Nothing is guaranteed, and you can’t go back and re-do what has passed. Regrets are one of the worst experiences in life. Please do your best to live in that reality; you will regret it if you don’t.
Rite of Passage Due to Seniority
We are ONE team, not a group of grades, groups, or individuals. Freedoms and responsibilities are earned. We want hard working high-character football players, plain and simple. If you are good enough and are in accordance with team culture, you will play. Harassment or "hazing" of a teammate/s for any reason is not tolerated and will result in serious consequences.
This program is not concerned in the least who your parents are, how much money your family has, who your sibling/s were or anything related to you outside of your character and ability. Blaze your own trail!
Lack of Offseason Dedication
High school athletics are meant to be fun! However, the definition of fun can have many meanings. We define fun as: coming together as a team, enjoying each other's company, working together toward a common goal, and achieving our team and individual goals. Playing up to our ability is fun. Winning is fun. Creating lifelong memories with your best friends is the most fun.
That being said, those who choose to show up for our season without putting the time, energy, and effort into the offseason, both as a team and individually, will be at a distinct disadvantage. This type of complacent behavior shows your coaches and your teammates that you don't care enough about "us" to devote yourself to continual improvement. The message you receive will be returned as clear as the one sent. The offseason (especially the summer) is arguably the best time to grow as a team.
Participate in other sports and activities! Contrary to many "less than honest folks" out there, multi-sport athletes are the most recruited and most respected athletes in the minds of both high school and college coaches. Please run fast and far from anyone trying to convince you to specialize in one sport. Tell them to do some research...or actually talk to the best coaches out there. We highly encourage multi-sport athletes’ year-round. Multi-sports athletes enjoy numerous benefits that transcend all realms of competition and they continue to build upon positive life skills through their various exposures.
Weak Minds and Fragile Psyches
We are going to work hard in this program. Our players will be pushed to their limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. There is always higher level of doing things and if we desire greatness in life and in the area of competition, we must achieve it when no one is around to watch, but us. Players will need to have thick skin (or develop some quickly) because we have high expectation for attitude + effort + trust. A lack of any afore-mentioned quality cheats our program out of our goals, fails to align with our culture, and will not be tolerated.
Players have to distinguish between a perceived attack on them and criticism of their performance. Bottom Line - players need to be able to handle constructive criticism without breaking down physically and emotionally. There will be plenty of praise to go around, but this is real life and sometimes the truth is not comfortable…wear it, own it, and move on. "It's never about the player, it's about the performance." If at all possible we cannot afford to play athletes who we cannot trust in times of situational pressure and stress. Our players will simply be challenged to be their best and accomplish things they never thought possible. The process does not always resemble a fairy tale. Again, culture does not exist to make people comfortable. It drives the behavior that wins.
Rules for a Positive Team Environment
Attitude + Effort + Trust = (Culture Pillars)
If we can bring these three components daily, we will set ourselves up for success. This is our primary team performance expectation. You will be asked to leave practice or a game for deficiency in any of these core areas. Come back the next day ready to go.
Equal Respect for All Teammates, Coaches, and Opponents
Teammates – regardless of worldly success, no one is more valuable to "us" than another.
Coaches – speak with a respectful tone and address your coaches as "Coach, Last Name" and answer a coaches' request with good eye contact and appropriate tone of voice and non-verbal body language. As coaches, we will make many mistakes, and we will own them. We expect the same grace you will be given for your mistakes. However, we as coaches will always own poor performance by our team. It's our job to prepare you and put you in positions to be successful. As a staff and as players, the phrase “It doesn’t matter, get better” will be our mantra.
We will win and lose with class. We will leave the game on the field and respect our opponents following the final whistle. We will pick up after ourselves and represent our team, school, and community with class as we enter, exit, and/or move throughout our opponent's facilities.
Attend/Participate in Team Functions and Activities
Show up to what we do. We must build our team on and off the field.
If there is an issue within the team, it must be addressed immediately! Assistant coaches are NOT sounding boards for complaints. Approach the Head Coach if you have serious concerns. Coordinators and position coaches have freedom to advise, critique, and encourage any player on our team. You have my promise that your concern will be handled with respect and without judgment. Our culture will be very open and honest (TRUST Pillar), thus bringing up general concerns to the Head Coach should not be difficult.
1. Our program will set the example for others in our school.
2. We will always sit in the front row, or as close to instruction as possible.
3. We will participate in class consistently.
4. We will respect each teacher, regardless of our personal feelings toward him or her.
5. If you have an issue with a teacher and it cannot get resolved between the two of you, let me know and we'll work to find a solution to the matter.
6. We will have a team GPA goal of 3.0 or higher.
"E + R = 0” - Event + Response = Outcomes
We don't control the events that happen to us in life. We control our responses to those events. The quality of our responses, determine the quality of our outcomes. Want a better outcome; have a better response. This motto is a foundational motto and "way of life" for everything we do on the field and everything we train for in life itself. We will teach and apply a specific curriculum that adheres to this principle. Our curriculum teaches through intentional practice and training, a model for handling adversity in all situations that life may present us with.
Proactive Prevention of Behavior Problems
We will have numerous team social events to help further build team chemistry. Spending time together helps us to be more accountable to each other and ourselves.
Clear Communication of Team Rules with Frequent Review
Team – rules will not only be posted but reinforced and will serve as a foundation and justification for all actions taken, both positive and negative.
Parents – parents will sign a statement of agreement with the team rules and expectations and will need to clarify any initial questions at our pre-season meeting/s.
We will be involved in service projects for our community. Doing so helps to foster pride in our community, our program, and in ourselves - leading to reduced odds for misbehavior.
Grades will be checked bi-weekly. Failing grades will result in negative consequences. Assistant coaches will be in charge of tracking students' academic status. Our program will align itself accordingly with school policy, but our program has higher expectations than simply meeting average student requirements. Great cultures require great behaviors. Consequences will be administered for average and below average performance.
Open-Door Policy (student-athletes)
As stated earlier, requests and/or concerns need to be brought to the attention of the Head Coach immediately for reconciliation. My athletes have the privilege to take my time. When they need me, I will do my very best to be there for them no matter the situation or time of day. Therefore, open door means open door, whether it is school or my home, you are welcome like you are family…because that is how I view “my guys”.
Both during and after the season, we will study materials that pertain to being positive leaders in our society. We will have weekly meetings during the season and regular meetings out of season. Coaches will choose and lead the material for these meetings. If coaches of other sports want their athletes to join us out of season, I would be happy to facilitate or team up to help development leadership across the athletic, academic, and activity department in our school.
When concerns arise, I will encourage a meeting between the student-athlete, parent/s, and coach or coaches to come to a quick and satisfactory resolution. Unwillingness to participate in such a meeting will force me to conclude that my interpretation of any matter is the correct interpretation, and I will respond under that assumption. Meetings must be scheduled in advance. My open-door policy does not extend to parents. I desperately want you to be involved and be a part of “us”, but my players and their well-being are simply going to come before parent complaints, criticisms, etc. As will all things in life, clear communication solves most every problem. I will do my best to be proactive with you; please allow myself and my staff the freedom to be the professionals that we are.
SUGGESTED PARENT MEETING REQUEST PROCESS:
1. Does it really matter?
2. Can I control it?
3. Does my concern benefit my child in an appropriate manner?
4. Will sharing my concern change anyone’s opinion on the matter?
5. Ask yourself how you would handle the approach you are contemplating if the roles were reversed.
6. Give the matter a few minutes, hours, days, months…whatever is necessary to be able to come to a rational conclusion without the raw emotion of the issue still present.
* It’s no secret that parent-coach relationships can be difficult. I personally would like to welcome you into our culture because we need your support and you need our commitment to treat your child with respect and dignity. I’m not someone who has a hard time owning my shortcomings. I will not be perfect. I will make mistakes. Please know that I will make every effort necessary to do what I believe is best for my players on the field, but more importantly, in life. In the end, I believe we both want the same general things for your child; we simply may not always agree on the methodology…so let’s keep the intention in the forefront of our minds.
Positive Consequences for Aligned Student-Athlete Behavior
a. Praise will be given daily by all coaches, rewarding and documenting attitude + effort + trust. THOSE ALIGNING WITH OUR CULTURE WILL BE AWARDED!
b. Practice player of the week award for every level
c. Practice player of the year award will be presented following the season for each level.
a. Verbal praise for attitude + effort + trust in games
b. "Game ball" award for each game to be placed on the goal board in the locker room
Building a player up with a conversation of praise can mean a lot to our athletes. Whether it's a letter or verbal conversation, our players will know they are appreciated. Coaches will be required to meet with a different player EVERY DAY to have a personal conversation and "check-in" with them to see how things are going, gauge any concerns, and give our student-athletes a chance to ask questions, share concerns, etc. Our goal in this is three-fold: 1. Form deeper and more meaningful relationships - 2. Give players the opportunity to know where they stand on the team…. they should never wonder why their situation is the way it is (status). - 3. EVERY player is of the same value and we need everyone who has made the commitment to join us. Each young man should feel valued.
It is equally important to recognize the outstanding individuals in our program within the community. Newspapers and online sources will be utilized and kept up to date weekly.
We believe that it is important to let parents/guardians know that their child is doing well. Regular positive phone calls, text messages, and/or emails will be sent home.
Simply put, if a player is doing enough things right on and off the field, it will be difficult to not reward that attitude + effort + trust with playing time. Talent and ability do matter, but all things equal; the individual that is more aligned with our culture will play over one who has more work to do in those areas. Criticism of coaches relating to playing time will not be entertained. There will always be a reason why or why not a player is playing over another. We see every rep in the weight room and on the practice field. We watch for attitude, both visual and the non-verbal body language. We spend hours studying and teaching the technique, the execution, and the results. Our judgment is based on observable and measurable facts. All of these traits factor into playing time. We will communicate the standards for evaluation to our players using the Four A.C.E.S system (Tony DeMeo), which details a system for providing clear communication and evaluation to our student-athlete in four distinct areas: Awareness – Concentration – Effort – Synergy.
Positive Consequences for Aligned Team Behavior
It is equally important to recognize the outstanding team behavior happening within our program. Newspapers and online sources will be utilized.
Verbal and/or Written Praise
This continues to be a theme and specific focus of our program.
Team Social Events
We desire to have fun together as a team off the field. We will also plan a yearly service/mission activity to help people in need. (Specific activity TBD yearly)
Results of Performance
Our results on and off the field will be directly proportional to our cultural growth as a team. Success breeds success.
Supportive Discipline for Athlete Self-Evaluation (Preventative Measures)
Individual and Team Goal Setting
Each player will set an overall character goal and subsequent performance related goals to pursue throughout the year. Each individual will share personal goals with the team in a "goal ceremony" prior to the start of the season. Goals will be written down and placed in the player's locker (form provided). We will also explore technological applications to track goals, and may use such an application in place of the laminated paper form.
As the season progresses, individuals will track their goals on a daily basis; much like a self-assessment at the end of the day. Players will also create goals for our games. Following the same format, student-athletes will track their goals game by game. When a goal is accomplished, the player will set a new goal and play to attain that new benchmark. Required goals are as follows:
a. Overall self-improvement/character goal not related to sport-specific performance
b. Overall commitment goal to the team for the season.
c. Individual practice goal related to attitude + effort + trust.
d. Individual performance goals for the season.
e. Individual performance goals for each game.
f. Weekly service goal (random acts of kindness…make someone’s day better!)
Setting goals will serve many purposes and will help to minimize selfish behaviors
When a player begins to drift from the cultural expectation of the program, individual conversations will take place to explore the cause of the behavior and work towards a swift solution.
Reinforce Culture Expectations
We will all need to sit back and remind ourselves why we are here and what the purpose of this program is. When times become tough or stressful, we all must look back to this programs' foundation and get back on track. When our athletes need to be reminded, coaches will help to fill that gap for them.
If a concern persists or is of significance a meeting will be scheduled to find a fair and appropriate solution. Most of these issues can be resolved with appropriate proactive communication between all involved parties.
Written Contracts Between Athlete – Coach – Parent/Guardian
If a behavior persists or is one that needs to be constantly monitored, a contract may be drawn up and signed by all parties, agreeing to the terms within. Failure to honor said contract will result in consequences listed in section VII of this document.
Negative Consequences for Misaligned Violations of Team Rules
Failure to adhere to the cultural standards of any organization should not result in comfortable consequences. Reminder: Culture doesn't exist to make people feel good or make everyone happy. That's not how great organization are structured. Student-athletes will be assigned extra work for minor violations of team rules. Extra work may include, but is not limited to:
a. Non-traditional Conditioning (outside of our practice schedule)
b. Written and/or verbal methods of apology and/or remorse + a plan/commitment to change with specific replacement behaviors noted
c. Service within the school building
d. Time after school for missing or failing schoolwork, resulting in missed practice time, resulting in diminished playing time, etc.
e. Other pertinent measures as determined by the coach and/or school policy and in accordance with the specific violation
Loss of Playing Time
Failure to adhere to the consequences listed in Section VIII, 1, a-e, will result in a loss of playing time at whatever level the player is currently performing. Loss of playing time may include, but not limited to:
a. Starting athlete may not start the game.
b. An athlete may miss any amount of quarters within the game.
c. An athlete may miss time in multiple games, or even the entire season.
Failure to adhere to program expectations and policy may result in a suspension from both practice and games. The length of suspension will abide in accordance with school policy, with additional consequences for violating program expectations. Program specific reasons for suspension may include, but not limited to:
a. Mistreatment of a teammate
b. Drug and/or alcohol problems
c. Consistent/chronic refusal to adhere to program expectations
d. Others as determined by the coaching staff and school administration
Dismissal from Team
Players who refuse to align with our culture will be asked to leave the team for the season. If the player decides to play again the next season, steps will need to take place in order to consider reinstatement. We hope to avoid dismissal from the team at all costs, however, sometimes more serious consequences need to be implemented to learn important lessons for life outside of the game of football. Steps for reinstatement may include, but are not limited to:
a. Player-Coach-Parent Meetings
b. Written contracts
c. Apology to current and former teammates + a plan/commitment to change with specific replacement behaviors noted
d. Others as determined by coaching staff and/or administration
*We will never give up on a player! People need second chances. Life lessons are better learned while an individual is young. Our primary purpose of administering consequences is to build great young men, great future husbands, and great fathers.
Strategies for Maintaining an Aligned Team Culture
Bring High Energy
Coaches and players are expected to bring high energy and enthusiasm each time our team is together. If you don't feel like it one day, FAKE IT! We must have a consistent climate of high energy and positive play. The word "practice" will be replaced with the word "play". Our main goal is to enjoy this process!
Praise, Praise, Praise
People need to feel loved, to be acknowledged, and they need to feel like someone is glad that they decided to show up each day! Coaches and players are required to be in a constant state of authentic praise and positive reinforcement. False praise or what I like to call "fluff praise" is much different than authentic praise. We are not "blowing smoke" to avoid hurting feelings; we are rewarding attitude + effort + trust.
Continually Teach Expectations and Character
To create and maintain a culture of excellence, we will continually address and communicate our program philosophy in a variety of ways. Our student-athletes will be able to tell anyone what we stand for and how we go about doing what we do. Any outsider should be able to see and experience our culture in the first five minutes of being around our team! If that's not the case, we will do the work and we will get better.
Serving others in our community has value that is difficult to replicate. Our team will learn and continue to build upon our skills as servant leaders in the community.
Give Student-Athletes a Voice
Our athletes will always have a strong voice in our program. Suggestions on how to improve our program will always be heard and respected. When the team needs to decide on a matter, the players will have a team vote and present the results to the Head Coach for approval. If the idea will help our team on or off the field and it falls in line with our core values, then we will make the positive change.
Strategies for Positive Parent-Coach Relationships
Philosophy - I will always be open to having meeting with parents. However, there are appropriate times and places to have such encounters. More importantly, there are times when it is not appropriate to have those encounters… and topics that are not open for discussion. Our student-athletes should be able to explain to their parents any rationale for complaints and/or dissatisfaction, as they are responsible for addressing the Head Coach with any concerns when they arise…whether they are comfortable doing so or not! Please help us to reinforce these positive characteristics in our student-athletes. Parents should not fight every battle for their children, nor “clear the path” of obstacles in their way to provide a smooth path with little resistance. Such behavior, though done in love, teaches young people to be overly dependent on you as parents/guardians, and it reduces their chances for independence as adults.
*Research “helicopter” and “snowplow” parent descriptions…I suggest the writings of Tim Elmore growingleaders.com/tim-elmore/ . I have found his work to be both practical and inspirational for myself as a parent of four children.
Inappropriate Meeting Times:
a. Any time before, during, or after a game. Emotions are highest during this time. You won't get the best me and I won't get the best you.
b. Before practice
c. After practice without prior scheduling
d. Anytime when I don't have time (i.e. I have somewhere to be at a specific time). Again, proactive communication and scheduling appointments in advance will go a long way to resolving most communication issues that may arise. I have a family to get home to when all my obligations are fulfilled at school and after practice. I have a wife that wants her husband home and four children that need their dad home every night. Please respect that.
Appropriate Meeting Times:
a. Any time or place that is agreed upon when you call, email, text to schedule. I must know in advance the purpose of the meeting. You may also count on me having an assistant coach present with me in more-less all individual meetings. An administrator may also be encouraged to attend, depending on the severity of the concern.
Parent Team Representatives and Booster Club
Parents will be asked to volunteer their services as "team reps" for each level of competition (Freshman - JV – Varsity). Parent reps will be in charge of organizing team meals for games. We will eat together as a team before all games, home and away. Meals will be small before games (I have specific plans for these). After games, meals will likely be prepared in homes with additional volunteers or purchased from a store or restaurant. Parents will pay a meal fee at the beginning of the year to help fund this program. This is another small step to building team chemistry and it provides our student-athletes with consistency and one less thing to worry about. I want them focused on the game, not on where they need to drive to after school to find food. Parent reps are also free to suggest ideas to help improve the program and they may serve as a sounding board for other parental comments and/or concerns. I want our parents to be involved in "us".
* If you are interested, please see the Coach Houchin or a designated assistant for more details
I will develop and intentionally pursue a positive working relationship with our school booster club. It would be my preference to have regular meetings each month, or quarterly at the very least in order to discuss our program goals, needs, and to work toward making our program top notch in the areas of safety, effectiveness, and support. We cannot be an elite program without a great partnership from people who have our programs’ best interests at heart. Let’s work together to give our young people the best possible experience this game has to offer!
Technology/Social Network Representation
We want to get our product out to the public. Today, the way to do that is to be highly involved in the areas of technology, media integration, and social networking. We will explore all beneficial avenues to market our program. There are many exciting avenues for the future marketing and exposure of our program that will help build "us" as a united community. I want those who are unable to watch us play, to know what we are doing and what we are about as a program.
Honesty (talk to people NOT about them!)
It is my intention and my desire to be as open and honest with you the parent/guardian as possible. Again, I want you to be a part of this program alongside your student-athletes. Therefore, it is essential that we are able to communicate without barriers. We both desire what is best for your child. We will not always agree on every matter, but my hope is to be able to garner mutual respect for one another while your student-athlete is under my leadership and care. Please integrate yourselves into our program, with our culture, our mission, and our values. Just please don't blur the lines between coach and parent. Your discussions "in the car" and at home make a huge impact on your student-athletes' perception of the program and our coaches. Realize that we as coaches have the best intentions for your child. We have and will put in far more time than you likely have... or ever will into this game. We are not going to show up at your job and tell you how to do it, so please refrain from doing the same. We are always working to improve, to make the best decisions we can, and truly want your child to have a great experience in this program.
Personal Professional Development
As a coach of your student-athlete, you have my promise to continue to strive to improve myself as a person, a leader, and a coach. I'm in "football mode" all year long. I'm engaging daily in strategy, culture, leadership, and personal growth resources throughout the year. I'm "nerdy" about attending clinics, networking with other coaches around the state and country, reading coaching books, etc. Please forgive me in advance for being a little bit obsessive about this game. I love football. One of the highest callings that I have next to my faith and family, is to lead young people within a football program and make it truly one of the greatest experiences in their lives.
Offensive – Defensive – Special Teams Philosophies and Schemes
Overall Schematic Philosophy
Schemes are important. They must be taught with precision, expertise, and reckless attention to detail. That being said, culture trumps strategy every day of the week. In theory, it doesn’t matter what kind of systems a team prescribes to; most anything will work if it’s taught and executed well. There is nothing new under the sun as far as schemes are concerned. Personnel matters for what systems might work better than another to some degree, so adaptations are always going to be necessary. I believe that coaches should recognize their team’s relative strengths and weaknesses and adapt annually to fit those unique, evolving needs. I also believe that a system should be taught throughout all available levels to ensure expertise by the time players reach the varsity level of competition. This includes youth levels and “feeder” programs as well. This approach has been proved successful for many of the best teams across the country.
The culture of the team, the relationships between the staff and players, and the support from school administration, and the community as a whole dictate the overall success of a program significantly more than any scheme or system ever has, or ever will. Coaches need to teach, lead, love, and inspire. Players need to execute the skills that they have been trained to perform with great effort and precision. Consistency and adaptability are vital to the success of schematics in all three primary areas of the game. Empowering our players with the best techniques and the confidence to perform their roles for the benefit of the team is the mission.
The What: Gun-Triple-Option
It’s a great equalizer
The epitome of balance is always possible
We don’t have to block two of the defense’s better two players (reading them)
Formation friendly (you can run Gun-Triple out of any formation)
Gets your speed in space
Forces the defense to play assignment football
Limits the number of stunts and fronts that you are going to see
Forces defense to involve their secondary in run support every play (opens PA pass and puts traditionally less skilled tacklers against their strengths)
Able to control the ball and mix tempos based on in-game need
Easer for the O-line to protect
O-line’s 2-point stances make it more difficult for defense to find the ball
Traditional Triple Option FB can be more of a versatile TB type
QB is running downhill after mesh (can afford, if needed, for QB to be a little slower)
Quick passing game and screens are always an automatic check
Base formations work well to run 2-minute offense
Teach it daily in the film room
Practice the “ins and outs” in stages that build into a final finished product
Coaches will become experts in their positions and the system
Host professionals to help install system with the team and staff (plans have already been discussed with an expert in this system)
We can install this in a high quality manner on our own, but having one of the most respected coaches in the country within this system come to our school and install the system brings many benefits (unity, buy-in, next-level expertise, common language)
Annual training/professional growth for our staff (clinics, podcasts, videos, consultations)
The What: 3-3-5 Base formation
Puts athletes in space to make plays
Allows defense to bring pressure on every snap
Contains the perimeter
Easy, practical, and easy to learn
Versatile (adjustments are simple, allowing players to play fast, physical, and confident)
Players have a primary duty/role no matter what offense we face (easy to adapt weekly)
Better for undersized teams with more speed/athleticism than size
Simple shifts/adjustments that allow players to focus more on run or pass dominant teams
Teach it daily in the film room
Practice the “ins and outs” in stages that build into a final finished product
Coaches will become experts in their positions and the system
Annual training/professional growth for our staff (clinics, podcasts, videos, consultations)
The What: Shield Punt – Multiple Formation Kick-off – Aggressive Punt Block – 50/50 (Man/Zone) Kick Return – Disciplined PAT/FG Units
Special Teams have the very real ability to win and lose games. These units are not something that can only be practiced weekly or seen as “a necessary evil” that has to be covered. These units will be given the same level of concern that the offense and defense so.
Teach it daily in the film room
Practice the “ins and outs” in stages that build into a final finished product
Coaches will become experts in their positions and the system
Annual training/professional growth for our staff (clinics, podcasts, videos, consultations)
Coaches will be in charge of specific positions for each unit. Everyone will be involved under the leadership of our Special Teams Coordinator.
Practice will be an up-tempo, fast-paced, execution-based environment; just like a game. We will practice at game-speed. Part of the pre-practice meeting agenda will be to discuss the daily objectives and teach what we are going to practice for the day. Under this format, our players will execute the strategies discussed in team meetings and nothing else. Keeping it simple on a daily basis is the goal; allowing for maximum repetitions without having to slow down and teach on the practice field. We want to go, go, go! What we are giving up from a time standpoint on the front end, will pay dividends on the back end of the practice schedule. Heavy focus during pre-season camp will be placed on individual drills and techniques. This allows for smooth transitions during practice and a comfort level for our players, as they will already know the what, why, and how of the techniques required of them on typical practice weeks during the season.
Providing our player with the opportunity to extent their playing careers on the football field in conjunction with their post-secondary goals for education and employment is something that will be pursed with intention and strategy. Communication with prospective college coaches will be made beginning as early as 9th grade if the coaching staff determines that a player is exhibiting the necessary talent, character traits, and work ethic necessary to compete at any level of collegiate athletics. Players with poor character, attitude, and/or work habits will not be recommend highly (or at all) to potential suitors.
This program is, and will always be more about the program than any one athlete. If a player is deemed a “cancer” to our culture, expect that to be communicated if college coaches are inquiring about you. I will not sacrifice the reputation of this program, our school, and myself by recommending a player to a school that I do not believe will represent us in a positive manner at the next level. One of the greatest joys that I have experienced in coaching is to watch a player mature throughout his high school career from someone I would not recommend, to someone I would put my name on.
Communication will be initiated from our staff from a “master list” of contacts at all levels of football with an attached “Athlete Recruiting File”. Correspondence between myself and college coaches will take place on a regular basis throughout the year. When one of our players has the character and ability to play at the next level, I will support and encourage that desire to my utmost ability. However, my judgement about player’s ability may not match parent’s or other people’s opinion. I will be straightforward with my personal evaluations. From my own experiences as a college athlete, a decade of coaching football (many who have went on to play Division 1 football (and everywhere in-between), and my oldest child also currently participating in intercollegiate athletics, I feel my judgment and “eye” for evaluation is solid.
Assistant Coach Expectations
Duties/Expectations: (specific duties and responsibilities in addition to the list below will be assigned during our first few meetings as a staff in the spring)
1. Coach with love; emulate effort, attitude, and trust. Create and experience worth being a part of. Change lives for the better! Play the role players need you to play most. Know them!
2. Coach every player the same with high expectations! It’s about creating a valuable life-long experience for these young people. It’s not about your glory.
3. Preach and teach our culture! Intentionally use the verbiage daily to communicate our expectation. Do it without using inappropriate language (no swearing allowed) and with the clear intent to build up and not tear down. Don’t “pump sunshine”, but don’t be a jerk.
4. Be on time and be prepared! This is self-explanatory. Nothing might communicate your alignment with our program to myself more than this.
5. Attend team functions and meetings. Do not miss being a part of what we do. In all seriousness, if the requirements are too much for your current schedule, or more than you want to contribute, it’s fine. I will find someone who wants to do the work necessary to build an elite program. If moving to a less-intensive environment suits you better and you still want to coach, then moving down to a lower level is a viable option.
6. Please be loyal and honest. I’ve been on poor coaching staffs before, and I’ve been frustrated with how the program was being run. I get it, it’s tough being an assistant at times. I’m going to lean heavily on you guys and I need to know that you have the interests of the players at the forefront of your minds, and my back during hard times. I’m open to advice, better ways of doing things, etc. Just talk to me, not about me (see culture playbook).
7. DO NOT be a sounding-board for player and/or parent complaints!!! This is so prevalent in youth sports today. No one seems to want to address the situation person to person anymore. We are going to work our tails off to create a culture of trust where anyone can respectfully approach myself or one of you in an appropriate manner without the fear of judgment or ridicule.
8. Please do not show signs of disloyalty or disagreement in front of our players. If you have an issue with something I have done or said, file it away for a better time and we can discuss it.
9. Bring your best mental energy; bring your best physical energy each day! I want coaches running around, being themselves, and creating positive experiences at practice. If you are tired or not “feeling” it that day…please FAKE IT as best as you can. Our players will feed heavily off the atmosphere we create EVERY DAY! You will need to pick me up at times as well. Life gets exhausting at times; we all need someone to build us up. BRING THE JUICE!!!
10. COMMUNICATE! Respond when I message you! I absolutely hate waiting an unnecessary amount of time to get a response (pet-peeve). If you are unavailable at the present time, let me know and get back to me when you are free. I fully realize you have a life. I fully realize that you may not think about football all day…I do. Communicate in advance (24hr minimum/preferably one week if possible, depending on the circumstance) if you are going to miss a practice or team function. You are grown men; you know what’s excusable and what is not.
The importance of a solid youth/feeder program cannot be underestimated! First and foremost, we need coaches that are willing to learn, employ our strategies and techniques, and desire not to serve themselves, but to serve the betterment of our program and our future! It would be my preference to “run” these programs from a structural and organizational standpoint, providing needed training, practice organization and procedural requirements, systematic “must haves”, and additional support. I desire to have our youth coaches involved with our high school program and will encourage them to become part of us through specific involvement with our team events and games. Egos have to be set aside and we must do what’s best for our program! I’ve seen far too many youth coaches that are only concerned about winning, reliving “glory days”, and refusing to take the expert opinions and trainings offered by high school head coaches. I’m committed to not having this happen in our program. Our culture needs to extend all the way down to our youth programs. It will be on myself and my staff to integrate that culture and provide an experience that will move our youth coaches to partner with us in the best ways possible…to benefit the KIDS!!!
Junior High/Middle School Football
Echoing much from above concerning the philosophy of our youth programs, the junior high program must emulate a “mini-version” of the varsity program. Lower level coaches will work tightly in conjunction with the varsity staff and expectations/advice given must be followed. An assistant varsity coach will serve as the lesion between our staff and the junior high staff. We will provide practice plans, training, and “must haves” to our junior high staff. The expectation is that these are followed and informal reviews will take place via evidence provided during their respective games. Formal reviews will take place via our “Assistant Coach Evaluation Form”. Our freshmen must have a base knowledge of our culture, our systems, and our general expectations for behavior and work ethic. Again, it will be on myself and my staff to integrate our junior high coaches into a culture in which they intrinsically desire to do these things… because they see the tangible results in the lives of the young people we are leading on and off the field.
Specific Training Opportunities:
*Youth football camps in July (K-2,), (3-5), (6-8) – 3 days
*Youth Coaches Clinic in June (full day) (teach culture expectations, themes, X’s and O’s)
*Provide opportunities for game day roles/responsibilities for youth and junior high coaches
*Sideline passes for youth coaches (rotational basis)
*Open line of communication between lower-level staff -> assistant varsity coach lesion -> Head Coach
*Opportunities offered to attend any and all clinics the varsity staff attends
*Hudl access (view only)
Football is the greatest game on earth. The requirements of spirit, body, and mind are great and the life lessons this game can teach both athletes and coaches are life-changing. Sports do not teach character; rather they reveal character under stress. In my humble opinion, our society is crumbling from a moral and civil standpoint, as tensions and divisions between mankind seem to be at an all-time high. Sports, and the game of football specifically have the power to bring people of all sizes, shapes, backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs together under a common purpose. Through this game, our young people can learn a great deal about how to respect one another and work together for a common good, despite personal differences. For me, the relationships that I formed through high school and college football have extended beyond boundaries that I never envisioned they could. I want to offer the young men who play this game for me an unparalleled experience through their involvement with our team. This starts and ends with fostering and sustaining strong relationships between them and myself. In the end, helping to lead and guide my student-athletes along the path of life, while providing them an example of what a man of character looks and behaves like is my “why”. Using my own experiences and my relentless commitment to personal growth, I will offer wisdom and emulate the qualities that I believe will help them to choose “above the line” and disciplined behavior … with a fervent commitment to responding well to the events of life… producing outcomes that win on and off the field. The “mountain of average” is full of people choosing to be comfortable. We are in the business of becoming elite. Welcome to the experience.