The top ways to “hard core” get better as a football coaching staff
I started off this piece with a quote I blurted out in 2007 to a head high school coach while I observed his team’s practice. I distinctly remember everything about our exchange that day because it was the first time I had been exposed to a staff employing an offensive football system that they annually paid for. It was distinct and memorable because I was shocked. The coach was a student of the game, and an up and coming star in the business. He later went on to win a state championship (still using the system) at the highest level in his football crazed southern state.
The things he impressed upon me that day as a rebuttal to my knee jerk statement, in part, lead to these reasons for investing in a Football System for a coaching staff. Our conversation also impressed upon me, the things that did not work for the coach in terms of employing and teaching a staff a sound offensive system
I was shocked anyone would pay for an offense
the top 5 ways to NOT get better as a coaching staff this off-season
WHAT WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR STAFF
(when deciding on a system)
1. Do you really want to improve, or do you just want your “ear tickled”?
“Mega clinics” are good if you already have a masters degree in the subject/topic being taught by the clinician. However, if you and your staff are looking to install a new scheme, you’ll learn just enough to get your butt beat in the fall by listening to an expert in a 2-3 hour clinic format. Quite simply, there’s not enough time for even the best teacher to provide you enough content to install a new scheme.
2. In this case, stories do not sale
There is an old saying in sales, “Facts tell, and stories sale”. That saying does not apply when wanting to become an expert in football in your chosen scheme. Podcasts, for example, are a new phenomenon in long form interviews. They are beginning to capture the free time of many football coaches. However, most coaches learn visually. A story can entertain, but seeing the film and the schematic diagrams create the best in football learning. If you’re “old school” this applies to 99% of coaching books too. These mediums (podcasts and books) should be used as a supplement to your scheme, not as a means to become an expert in your scheme.
3. It’s not, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, AKA: “Beware of Clinic-talk guy”.
Here’s another an old adage that you can stand on (Old adages are old because they’ve stood the test of time).
-- “Don’t tell me show me”.
Do not trust a coach, no matter how well meaning, that quotes what others do, and that only shows diagrams. The best coaching resume is in the film he shows. I don’t respect a coach that tells me all about a scheme and a technique that he can’t back up with his own team’s film.
4. It’s not Friend Business, it’s Show Business
An old coaching friend used to tell me “A hunter is judged by the pelts on his wall.” In football I’m not necessarily talking about rings and championships, our game has to be evaluated by all things contextual (examples: how good was the defense and how tough was the schedule). If you are going to learn from an offensive coach, ask yourself these questions before preceding:
5. Will they be there for you?
Let’s say you’ve spent three days with another staff, and you and your staff have immersed yourselves in their scheme. Now you go home, and the inevitable comes up, “Now what?”. Questions should and will arise.
A coaching staff that is truly trying to get better and implement a new scheme is going to have more questions than answers. If you and your staff invest in a way to learn a system, then there better be a way to get answers, and get them fast. If that’s not the case, then you probably are spending your time in the wrong place.
the top 5 ways to get better as a coaching staff this off-season
WHAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR STAFF
(when deciding on a system)
1. Are we apples to apples here?
The superior approach is to learn and study from your team’s peer group of coaches. Specifically from coaches that are facing the same problems you are. 99% of the coaches reading this can far better appreciate the problems a high school coach goes through than what Nick Saban and Alabama goes through. I argue that in football more true learning and implementation is flowing up from high school to college, rather than from a D1 program down to a high school or small college program.
2. How long does this last?
The items on the following list are considered one time resources, as opposed to a living long term resource:
If your source for staff betterment consists of one-time resources then you’re not getting the most for your staff.
Going back to the point above that asks, “Will they be there for you?” The answer in terms of the one time resource is NO. The counter to this lies in a one year subscription. Why? It forces the provider to improve, and constantly add. Bottom line, the subscription provider is going to answer when you need the question answered.
3. Value as opposed to cost
Definitively cost vs. value can be defined as: Cost is the amount incurred in the production of goods, i.e., it is the money value of the resources involved in producing something. Conversely, value implies the utility of worth of the commodity of service for an individual.
When determining the question, “Why in the hell would I pay for that?”, ask yourself and the staff:
“Does this system provide us, as a staff, the resources to better ourselves and provide us the value to help our team win more games?”
And, it’s well to remember, free does not equate to better. “Free” usually ends up one of two ways:
4. I’ve only got one assistant in the building
The coach I spoke with in 2007 utilized this point as his main emphasis in investing in a system. He argued, “If the majority of my staff members work outside the school building (they have professions other than coaching and teaching), then how am I to assume they are partaking in professional development to better themselves when it comes to an offensive or defensive scheme?”
Clinics, books, courses, and webinars will barely scratch the surface. Invest in something that is on-going and deep when determining how a staff will improve itself.
5. Check the boxes
If a staff truly wants to immerse themselves in a new/better system, then make sure you are receiving the best by checking all the boxes:
Is your staff interested in a system?
[Full disclosure: As the author of this post I must also confess I am co-founder of The Surface to Air System, an offensive consulting service] But what I have laid out is the truth when a staff truly decides it wants to take the next step in immersing themselves in a learning system.
Interested? Want more? Is there a trial period?
not sure? Here are some myths/Facts about joining our system
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