What we do right now will have a huge impact on the success we enjoy in the fall. This is the time of year when you can have the biggest impact on your program. There are nine things you can do in the next 5 months that will have a huge, long-term impact on your program. These are in no particular order.
1. Visit another coaching staff to see how they do things. Pick an area of your program you want to improve and visit a staff who excels in this area. These visits can be from one to three days. I like to visit one school before spring football and one school while they are having spring football. I have not found a school at any level who was not very open with us visiting. However, I have never asked a district rival. They may not want to share much with you. Most coaches, I have found, are more than willing to share their success stories.
I like to visit coaches who have made huge improvements in their program. I want to see what they are doing in January and February. Programs are not built in September and October. They are built in the dark of winter. Second, I want to visit a program who does something on the field that we want to learn more about. These are schools I want to visit during spring football.
2. Perform a comprehensive data analysis of yourself from the previous season. I have about 6 reports I like to run give me a very good picture of what we did well and what we did not do well. Data can give us a very clear picture of things without any editorializing. For example, back in 1999 we were running load option 8 times a game. Unfortunately, we only averaged 3.4 yards a play. It was our least productive offensive concept. We didn't do a good job of self-scouting during the season at that time. I wish we had, maybe we would have done a better job of calling plays.
With the advent of HUDL, data is readily available. There is absolutely no excuse for not running a self-scout report each game during the season. You can also run a cumulative report. This takes literally no time to perform. In the old days we did this with a pen and paper. Technology has simplified this process. You can run multiple reports with the click of the mouse.
3. Prepare a scouting report on your opponents. The spring is a great time to learn about your opponents. You can run a schematic report and a personnel report. What do they run on offense and defense? What are their tendencies? When do they blitz? Who are their returning players? Who are their best athletes? If you have the information available, use it! Divide this up between your coaches and set a deadline to complete this.
4. Implement a leadership development and character education program. You are either coaching it, or allowing it. You have total control over whether you develop leaders. If you teach your players to lead, they will be better leaders. In 10 minutes a day, every other day, you can teach your players how to be better leaders. There is so much information available that you don't have to recreate the wheel. If you aren't sure where to start, think John Maxwell and Zig Ziglar. They are two great resources to get you started. There are also several programs like Coaching to Change Lives that and the Be a REAL Man Program.
5. Meet as a coaching staff. I am not talking about meeting to meet. I am talking about taking time to formulate a plan of action for the spring, summer, and fall. If you meet for 30 minutes, 2 times a week for 10 weeks, you will be much better prepared than if you meet sporadically. Again, don't meet to meet. Have a plan for what you want to accomplish in these meetings. This is a great time to discuss data from your self-scout and opponent scouting reports. You can prepare your installation schedule for the spring and fall, while having time to review and adjust it before you start practice.
6. Prepare your spring and fall practice plans. I had never done this until we went to a clinic in 2002. One of the college coaches was talking about how they prepare. We started putting our practice plans together well in advance. We then would make adjustments as needed. It helped us to make sure we had everything covered that we needed to. By having this done in advance we were not scrambling the night before trying to get our practice plans done.
7. Develop Speed, Strength, Flexibility Program. Again, have a plan. Don't just lift to lift, or run to run. Have a plan. Also, make sure you teach great technique. If you don't know where to start, go the the BFS or Bigger Faster Stronger Website. Their program works very well for any and every sport. Everywhere I have been we have used some element of their program. Be excited to be in the weight room with your players. If you want it to matter for them, it has to matter for you!
8. Teach Your Players to Set Goals and Develop a Plan For Meeting Them. Have your players write down individual goals they want to achieve. Then have them develop their team goals. Help them develop a plan for meeting their goals. Meet with them regularly to update their progress. Remember, you can't get anywhere if you don't know where you are going.
9. Create a Culture of Success. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do this off-season. You are going to get what you emphasize, so what will you emphasize this spring? Will you hold your players accountable? You create a culture of success be setting high expectations and holding your players to them. Everyone sets high expectations, but what are you doing to hold your players accountable to them? If they don't get to parallel are you letting it go? Or, are you taking the time to correct them until they do it to meet your expectation?
Part of your culture is competition. Create competition for your players. Set up competitive situations where there is a winner and loser. Create consequences for the losers, while rewarding the winners.
This is a great time of year to improve your program and make it better. If you are willing to invest your time, you can make huge strides right now that will make a big impact on your program!
In January of 2016 I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959. The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense.
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Installing-Explosive-Concepts-Into-Offense-ebook/dp/B01B12YSCG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1075902270.
Order the Amazon Kindle version here: