Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Coaching with Purpose

One of my favorite websites to check out is coachhuey.com, where coaches share their thoughts and insight. A topic that frequently comes up is "why coaches went into coaching." I have chimed in a few times, and recently I shared some information that I wanted to put into a blog post. For the next couple of minutes I am going to jump on my soapbox about what it truly means to be called "coach."

Coaching is about much more than teaching a sport. The same way that teaching is about much more than the results of a state mandated test or whether a kid can calculate an algebra equation. It is about teaching kids to be the very best that they can be, and they can do more than what they think they can. And it all starts with relationships. I watched my dad coach when I was growing up, and the love he had for his players was unconditional. He was a master at building relationships with kids that lasted a lifetime.

Building relationships is much bigger than just sending a text to a kid or an email blast. It is about caring for the kid outside of sport. it is about learning about his home life and background. it is about learning their hopes and dreams and fears and goals. I talked to guys my dad coached 40 years ago and they talk about him in very high regard. And, they never mention a win or a loss. They talk about how he helped them through difficult situations they faced in their personal lives. These are things that are not out in the public eye. Part of building relationships is about being available.

Many times I asked my dad why he taught and coached, and he never talked about winning and losing. He talked about giving kids something to believe in so you can impact them through sport, improving their life after sport. Do you care about the Jersey, or the Player wearing the jersey? Do you care about the kid as much when he is in ISS as much as you do when he is scoring touchdowns? Do you cast kids away when they make a mistake, or do you reel them in for a teachable moment?

I have been blessed to work with head coaches who set great examples for building programs based around love. Kent Jackson, the HFC/AD in Seminole, Texas, cares greatly about each player. He often says, "do you teach English, or do you teach kids?" The answer to that question says a lot. It starts with wanting the very best for every kid you coach. It is about loving them unconditionally. It is about caring about them for who they are, not what they can do. It is about looking deep inside each kid and finding the gold inside. We can't give them greatness, they already have it. Our job is to pull it out of them. And again, it all goes back to relationships. If they know you care about them, and I mean truly care about them as more than a player on your team, they will play their hearts out.

Why is this important? Because someone has to fill the void that left by the absence of fathers. Most of the kids we teach and coach don't have a relationship with their father. For most of them, we are the only positive male role models they might have in their life. We may be the only adult male role model who truly cares about them and loves them unconditionally. Many of our young people are surrounded by adults who break promises. We have an opportunity to be someone they can trust.

One thing I have learned is to never, ever talk negative about a player in public. It does not do you any good personally or professionally. It builds a disdain and a distrust within your current and former players. Guys are going to talk and share information. Imagine what you would think if you ran into a former colleague and he told you your former boss said you were a lazy S.O.B. with no heart... How would you feel? What if that same colleague came up to you and said, your former boss said even though you didn't see eye to eye he said he always loved and respected X, Y, and Z about you... Which is more effective? If you are going to use an example of a former player, leave out the name. Or, bring back the former player to share his story. Let him educate your players.

Tell your players you love them, then back it up with your actions. If they make a mistake, coach them through it. Tell them you believe in them, and remind them of this often. Ask them about their family... and then listen to what they say. Hold them accountable for their actions and explain to them how it benefits them in the long run to be held accountable. This doesn't mean berate them in public. It means privately talking to them about the behavior and telling them why you are holding them accountable.

Take 5 minutes a day, three days a week and have a character talk. Have a different coach deliver the message each time, and keep it to 5 minutes. Bring in former players to give the talk. This will be meaningful to the players.

But again, this all comes back to if you don't care. If you don't really care, then you may want to make a career change. If you don't care whether Johnny has food on the table, or you don't care whether Bill became a good father, then your players are right.

When I first started coaching it was all about winning and losing, and I did not care about my players outside of sport. I really didn't care about them inside of sport unless they were a good player. We took a losing baseball program in the mid 90's and won games, but something was missing. Then I went to work for a man coaching football who cared deeply about each and every player. It was a great lesson for me on why we do what we do. Do we do what we do for ourselves? Or do we do what we do to because we have an opportunity to impact kids? The answer to that question can change and evolve over time. My purpose for coaching continues to evolve as I grow as a person.

The biggest regrets I have don't have to do with a play call or a why we lost a game. They have to do with how I might have handled a situation differently. They have to do with the crappy example I set on handling adversity. They have to do with the stuff I said to and about kids. There are kids that I had a chance to impact and I chose to take the easy way out and break them down. Why? Because I didn't care. I had a chance to build them up and help them to believe in themselves. I let my ego get in the way of this opportunity. Don't let your ego get in the way of an opportunity to change the life of one of your student-athletes. Is what you are about to do going to satisfy your ego, or is it going to help that kid be successful? An instructor at West Point once said, "give em what they need, not what they deserve."

There are some who would say this philosophy doesn't work. This is all kumbaya. That would be patently false. We coach our kids hard. We hold them accountable for every little detail. If we don't do something right, we do it again. But we try to do this without breaking them down. We work hard to coach with passion and enthusiasm each and every day. We bring energy and try to set that example for our kids. We don't sugarcoat things. We tell them the truth, but we do so with a twist about how it can change. We add that we believe in them. As John Wooden said, "a coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment." If you constantly break your kids down, they will play like they are broken down. More importantly, they will live their life broken down.

Here is the cool part... When we began to coach as transformational coaches nearly 20 years ago, we won more games. We were more consistent. Our kids believed in themselves. We had better leadership. We had trust between players and coaches and players and players. Our players could handle adversity. And, our kids learned values that have continued into adulthood. If you want to be champions on the field, you have to be willing to build champions off the field. You have to build  culture of love and trust within your program.

The best part about this is that how we coach is a choice. How much we care is a choice. I make mistakes each day. Yesterday I said something to  a kid I had to apologize for. I told him I shouldn't have said what I said and asked for his forgiveness. He responded that he forgave me. We hugged. He said, "thank you coach." I told him I loved him. He repeated it back. Our relationship is now strengthened because of it. He knows I care about him, and I modeled for him what you do when you make a mistake. Some would say that showed weakness. I would tell you that something like that shows great strength. That kid can now use that lesson when he is a husband or father and makes a mistake.

That is the real goal. What can we do to build young men that will be great husbands and fathers? What can we do to help them achieve more than they once thought possible What can we do to help them believe that they can overcome adversity they will face in life? And that all starts with the relationships you build.


I wrote two new 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
Coach Vint has authored several books and instructional DVD's with Coaches Choice. His book 101 Pistol Option Plays is actually available now as a 2 volume interactive ibook for the iPad! It is similar to a traditional book, but it contains several hours of video as well!
Order Part 1 Here: 101 Pistol Option Plays Part 1- Traditional Option Concepts
Order Part 2 Here: 101 Pistol Option Plays Part 2- Spread Concepts

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

#txhsfbchat or the Future of Your Coaching Education

Today we have a guest blog post by a coach who has done a tremendous job of organizing Wednesday Night football chats on Twitter with the hashtag #txhsfbchat. Chris Fisher, or @coachfisher_rp as he is known on Twitter, took a few minutes to share his thoughts on how Twitter has impacted coaching.


#txhsfbchat or the Future of Your Coaching Education
By Chris Fisher

Traditionally football coaches have the opportunity to attend clinics in the Spring and Summer to learn from coaches at the top of their profession and network with coaches across the state. These clinics can offer insight into what has made these coaches and their programs successful.  College coaches offer additional educational opportunities by extending invitations to high school coaches to visit their facilities and attend Spring practices.  Together, these opportunities help to expand our knowledge about all aspects of football, developing successful programs and well-rounded athletes.

These clinics are typically well-attended, covering numerous topics in a lecture hall setting ending with occasional Q&A sessions.  Unfortunately, attendees must take their own notes from the presentation, and they have limited time to participate in the Q&A sessions. At the conclusion of the clinic, the presentations are also not readily accessible for coaches to review and archive for future reference.  

Coaches from all over the state and nation come together to share ideas and develop their professional network.  Outside of the clinic coaches have the opportunity to learn from each other through informal meetings and direct discussion.  We learn more from each other when we can directly engage someone in conversation. Coaches sharing thoughts, ideas, and philosophies about football promotes our professional growth and the development of successful programs.  

To create a forum for coaches to engage in continual professional growth, I began #txhsfbchat on Twitter.  Twitter is an amazing social network that gives you authentic, direct engagement with someone about whatever subject you wish.  A Twitter chat focuses that conversation and brings in a much larger audience that each participant can learn from while also providing their own voice to the learning process.  

Since #txhsfbchat began, coaches from Texas and across the United States come together Wednesdays at 8 pm CST to answer questions, engage with other coaches directly, and learn from each other.  Questions are provided for participating coaches to answer and interact with each other while driving their own professional development and expanding their personal learning network each week.  It is an amazing learning experience as this wealth of knowledge from head coaches to assistants is shared every week.  We have discussed position work, off-season programs, character education, offensive and defensive philosophies and many other topics in our continuing conversation.  Connections are being made with coaches all over the state of Texas as well as coaches from the rest of the nation.  All in the spirit of becoming better coaches, and to grow in this game that we all love.

Many school districts in Texas and all over the United States are recognizing Twitter chats as authentic forms of professional development and even crediting participants with PD hours for their answers and activity.  I believe that #txhsfbchat provides coaches with this same opportunity to be active participants in their continuing education.  Instead of waiting on those one or two weekends out of the year to cram as much info from each speaker as we can into our notepad, we can learn from each other every week by using social media.  It is a powerful educational tool when put to good use.

Please join us every Wednesday at 8pm CST and take control of your professional development as a football coach.  Just search for and follow #txhsfbchat.  The chat is always archived on txhsfbchat.blogspot.com.

Chris Fisher
@coachfisher_rp

Coach Fisher has created a trend, as #txhsfbchat has spawned a couple of additional chats for coaches. Twitter has become a great avenue for coaches to find and share tremendous information. It truly is amazing how far technology as taken coaching, and the amount of information readily available. Thank you Coach Fisher for sharing your insight, and for all you do for coaches across the country!


Shameless Plug..
A few months back 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: