Thursday, February 18, 2016

Turning Around a Program

Perhaps the greatest reward in coaching is seeing kids accomplish things they think are impossible. I have been blessed to see this first hand in the classroom, in the weight room, and on the field. It is an awesome feeling when kids light up because they realize how much they are capable of. It is even more awesome when your players are successful as fathers and husbands because of what you were able to do in your program.

Recently I was speaking at a Nike Coach of the Year Clinic and the topic of turning around a program came up. A coach asked me how we took an inner city program that had lost 27 games in a row and had never been to the playoffs, and turned them into a championship contender every year. When we were hired people said we were committing career suicide. Even the principal said we couldn't win there. They had never been to the playoffs, and had never had winning season in school history. They had won about 12 games the last decade. How did we win 75% of our games despite having limited resources and no feeder program? I wish there was a simple answer...

It all starts with a vision, mission, values, and a plan. You have to have a picture of what you want your program to look like. You have to have a vision that others can buy in to. You have to articulate your vision so others can see it as well. You have to be passionate, positive, and enthusiastic, even when others think you should be disappointed.

 As you build your vision, you must develop a mission that is greater than winning games. You have to have values that are aligned with your mission and vision. These are four or five non-negotiable that define your program and what you stand for.  Finally, you have to have a plan of action. Your plan of action must begin with the end in mind as Stephen Covey says. Once you know where you want to go, you have to put a plan in writing to get their. If you don't have a plan in writing, all you really have is a dream you will never achieve.

At Columbus High School I was blessed to be the offensive coordinator for David Diaz. He is one of the great men in our business who cared deeply about our coaches and players. He identified three key areas that had to be improved if we were to build a competitive program.

First, we had to increase participation. For a school with nearly 4,000 students the participation in football was very, very low. Other sports had been competitive. We had to get kids to want to participate in football. To do this, we had to give them compelling reasons to be a part of the program. We brought a lot of passion and enthusiasm to our strength and conditioning program. We researched new and innovative ways to workout so we kept things fresh while improving our speed, quickness, and explosiveness, and preventing injuries. We added an element of competition into everything we did. A big part of increasing participation was putting kids in nicer uniforms and upgrading equipment. This took a lot of time and energy, but we made huge increases in participation. Everyone had very nice matching shorts and t-shirts to wear in the weight room. Gone were the 25 year-old shoulder pads. It took time, but upgraded every piece of equipment our kids would wear. We fundraised daily. Coach Diaz believed the only bad fund raiser was the one we weren't doing. It took a lot of time and energy, but our kids benefited greatly.

Second, we had to get kids to believe they could win. They had to believe that when they took the field we have a chance. Not one kid in our program had ever won a game at any level. Not one teacher, custodian, principal, or secretary in our building had ever experienced the felling of winning game. Not one kid in our program new what it would take to win. We worked tirelessly everyday to bring everyone in our building into our program. They had to feel like they were a part of it to believe in it. We gave gear to school staff. We invited them to events with our players and coaches, so they could get to know our team outside the classroom.

Winter and spring was a great time to build confidence in our student-athletes. We gave them record cards in the weight room and had them record everything they did. We had them compete to set personal records each day. We set daily and weekly goals that they thought would be very difficult, and began to build small victories. When we maxed out we wanted things to be very competitive. We wanted them to push each other. When players see other guys breaking personal records they want to to it as well. Our max out days were basically a party in the weight room. I remember one of our players saying, "let's have a max out party!" I wish we had cell phone cameras back in the late 90's and early 2000's to record the intensity and passion.

Another thing we did was built our players up every chance we had. No player in our program when we took over had ever won a game. We coached them as if they were going to contend for a state championship. We coached each kid as if he was going to be an all-state player. We constantly reinforced that they had greatness inside. We rarely talked about winning. We talked about being the best version of ourselves, and being the best team we could be. If we were able to give our best effort in the weight room and in the classroom, we would earn the right to be successful.

I recently visited with Randy Jackson, of Grapevine High in Grapevine, Texas. He has been very successful and changing culture and turning programs around. They use their off-season program to set high expectations and help kids achieve them. They do a boot camp program that many successful coaches have modeled. They intentionally put the kids in pressure based situations to teach them to work through adversity. When they get through the boot camp portion of their off-season they feel like they have accomplished something as individuals and as a unit. When you accomplish something you build confidence.

When student-athletes see positive progress they are going to begin to believe. When they can look at a record card in the weight room and see themselves getting stronger, they begin to believe. When you put them into adverse situations and they work together to make it through, they begin to believe. Confidence is not something that can be given, it has to be earned. It isn't rocket science. Set high standards, give kids the tools to achieve them, and support them when they do well and when they struggle. We built them up everyday and told them what we thought they were capable of. We told them they were going to be a championship team.

Third, we had to build a program into something they "belonged" to. We had to build a family that they felt like they were a part of. We wanted them to learn to trust, something that was lacking in their lives. We spent a lot of time getting to know our players and learning their hopes, their dreams, and their fears. We wanted to know their why. What was the reason they wanted to excel? What obstacles did they face? How could they help us overcome those obstacles? We wanted to take our relationships deeper. We wanted them to understand what FAMILY and unconditional love were all about. We wanted them to trust each other and depend on each other. We wanted them to know they were a part of something bigger than themselves. You can't just say the word family and put it on a t-shirt. Family starts with relationships, and you have to spend time with your players outside of football to get to know them. We loved our players unconditionally. We loved them on their worst days as much as we loved them on their best days. We reminded them everyday through our words, deeds, and actions, that we loved them and wanted great things for them. This was a huge part of our success.

Perhaps most importantly, we held them accountable to our standards. Everyone talks about having a standard, but how many leaders have communicated those standards? If you asked your team what your standards are, could they articulate them back to you? The first thing we did was came up with a simple slogan, "committed to excellence on and off the field." We put this on every piece of stationary we had. We talked to our kids about what this meant. We talked about commitment and excellence, and how important those words would be. This was our mission.

Standards of Performance

Next, we talked about standards of performance. Coach Diaz had read Bill Walsh's book Finding the Winning Edge. That book helped us to better understand that we had to have clear standards and expectations for our guys. What does parallel mean on squat? What is a perfect rep? What is our expectation for being on-time? If you ask anyone who played for us 12 and 15 years ago what our standard for being on-time was, they will tell you being 15 minutes early is on-time. If you were on-time you were late! If we told them to be somewhere at 5pm, they would arrive ta 4:45. They know that parallel was the top of the thigh parallel to the floor.

When you set a standard of performance you have to hold guys accountable. Without accountability you can only go so far. You are never going to be as good as you could be. When a player didn't get to parallel, we did the rep again. When we didn't finish through the line, we did the rep again. When we didn't get all 5 reps, we did some sort of accountability exercise. We wanted our guys to learn to do things right. This starts with a set of clear standards that your players understand and can define. Holding people accountable on the little things sets the foundation for doing the big things right!

What it all comes down to is your culture. You have total control over your culture. What does your culture look like? How can it be improved? Your culture starts with you expectations and standards, and is built with your accountability. If you have high standards and low accountability, your culture will suffer. If you have low standards and high accountability, your culture will suffer. If you have high standards and high accountability, you will build a culture conducive to consistent success.

What Coach Diaz understood was that the weight room is the best place to build accountability to self and to the team. He understood that accountability is very hard and requires confrontation. He also understand that confrontation is necessary to build love. To built love you have to confront the act, not the person. What I mean is, you never make it personal. You don't degrade the player, you degrade the act. Coach Diaz was and still is a master of this. You see, this is how you build discipline, and discipline is love. Your players must know you care about them at their best and at their worst.

One of the hardest things we had to do was to suspend players who didn't meet our standards. Sometimes this meant suspending our best players. I remember having to suspend our best lineman for a game. This hurt the team in the short term, but in the long run it improved our program. Our best running back, and arguably the best in school history, missed at least half of 3 games his senior year. He was late to meetings a couple of times and late to school on a Saturday morning. It hurt to have him sit, but it would hurt more if he and the team did not learn that lesson. He learned to be accountable in high school so he didn't have to learn a harder lesson later in life when more was at stake. Our ultimate goal was that they become better fathers and husbands.

This is where most people fail. They fail to hold athletes accountable. It is hard. It takes effort. It takes time. Sometimes it takes time away from other activities that are very important. It is hard to tell someone they are not doing something as well as they can. It is hard to tell someone they are not meeting expectations. It is hard to tell them they are letting their team down. But if you are not doing those things, you are setting your players up for failure down the road.

"We care about you enough to tell you the truth"

Coach Diaz cared so much about each player as a person, and not for what they could do athletically. He taught me how to love players unconditionally, when they were at their best, and when they were at their worst. He taught me that kids will always rise to the standards you set for them if you hold them accountable. He used to remind me, "no excuses, get better."

When I was in my first or second year coaching we had a situation with a very good player. I didn't think we could win without him, but he had gotten into trouble and we had to sit him out. I was frustrated. Coach Diaz told me, "if we play him now you better plan on not having him in the playoffs." He then added that we would be a better team later if we handled this now. He was right.

You have to be willing to make some very difficult decisions. You have to be willing to hold kids accountable on the field and off the field. You have to be willing to sacrifice something small now for a greater gain down the road. Bruce Brown of Proactive Coaching says, "don't make me choose between your behavior and the greater good of the team. The team will win every time." This doesn't necessarily mean you get rid of a player. This means you are going to hold them accountable to the standard of the program. When they make a mistake, you are going to coach them through it.

"Don't make me choose between your behavior and the greater good of the team. The team will win every time." 

Finally, we didn't panic when things didn't go well early on. We had some real struggles. We didn't walk out and set the world on fire. It took time to build a solid foundation. At each step of the way Coach Diaz kept us grounded and focused the process. When things didn't go as well as we had wanted them to he reminded us of the vision and mission. 

There are so many factors that go into turning a program around, and none of those factors are easy. Each school is going to be different, but there will always be problems. If you can identify three key areas that need to be improved, and you can focus on solving those problems, you will have success. If you can set high standards and get players to achieve those standards, you will have success.

If you are looking for a great resource to talk to about building culture, I would recommend you reach out to Randy Jackson at Grapevine High School. He is very open to helping schools improve their programs, and loves giving back to this great game that has blessed so many of us. Another great resource is Jeff Riordan at Crosby High School in Crosby, Texas. He has turned that program around and is building a monster. There are so many great coaches that are willing to help, and I would recommend you take the time to seek others who have successfully done what you are trying to do. Jason Sims at Childress High School in the Panhandle of Texas is another master at building programs.

Whatever your situation, your belief and expectations will drive the belief and expectations of your coaching staff and players. If you don't believe you can be successful, your players will not believe you can be successful. Notice we did not mention X's and O's at all. Our X's and O's were very good. But the real key to our success was what we did every single day to build and develop our family.

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: 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 apple device, you can order the paperback version! It is available on Amazon!

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:

Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

You Are Not "Just" Anything

I was speaking at a clinic a few weeks ago and a coach came up afterward and introduced himself. He said his name and then said, "I am just a middle school coach." No way, you are not "just" a middle school coach. You are the first football coach many of the young men you coach have ever had. You are the MOST important in that young man's life. If you give him a great experience, he will love the game forever. If you coach him like it's all about you, he will quit and never play the game again.

It is vital we all understand that regardless of our title, or level, or location, we are vital to someone. The job of that middle school or youth coach is as important as Jim Harbaugh's job. It may even be more important than Jim Harbaugh's job. Too often we measure our value by our title or position. We measure our value by our wins and losses. Our value is much, much bigger than any scoreboard, record book, or nameplate on a door. 

The value of a coach, or anyone for that matter, comes from the influence you have on others. We have an opportunity to change the lives of those we coach. We have the ability to influence young people to do more than they ever thought possible. We have the opportunity to be the one consistent person in their lives. We can show them the unconditional love that many of them are missing at home.

That middle school coach is a vital link to the success of that young man. I remember several years ago a friend of mine said he had a middle school player who was 5-2, overweight, and very awkward. He wasn't very strong and he couldn't run very fast. My buddy said his middle school coaches gave this kid such a great experience, and were so encouraging, that this young man continued playing into high school. The coaches realized the game is not about them, but about the kids. My buddy said that kid played at least 20 snaps every game. In fact, everyone on that B team played at least 20 plays. The A team played at least 20 snaps He said they lost a few games they might have won, but every kid had a great experience. Every kid practiced hard because they knew they were going to play. And they all got better.

Fast foreward a few years, and that small, overweight, unathletic young man hit two growth spurts. He went from being 5-2 to 6-3. He was 195 pounds. He never missed a workout. He ran a 4.7 in the 40. He was a team captain. He ended up being a 3rd team all-state safety and went on to be an NCAA Division II all-american. He received a scholar athlete award at a huge dinner, and who do you think he invited? Not his college coach. Not his high school coach. He invited his middle school coaches who believed in him when others wouldn't. 

It pains me when a 7th grade B team kid is standing on the sideline every week knowing he will play one or two plays. We are all competitive, but middle school and youth football is not the NFL. When a middle school or youth coach applies for a high school job, no one asks them what the record of the 7th grade B team was. The real test is, "what did you do to build up the spirit of your players?" What did you do to believe in them when no one else would?

My buddy said his middle school staff is the reason they were able to win a state title. His middle school coaches didn't let their ego get in the way of building a love of the game and a love of being coached in those kids. They made EVERY player feel like they could accomplish more than what others might think. They didn't coach the kids where they were. They coached those kids to the level they saw them getting. 

Another interesting story happened with a team I coached several years ago. We had a young man that didn't play a whole lot, but he was one of the best leaders we had. He had a great attitude regardless of circumstance. He was a selfless player who would do anything to help his teammates succeed. We had a really good receiver with a rough home life. He struggled to get to school for workouts. He often wanted to skip practice. This player didn't miss a workout as a senior. He blossomed into a leader and star player. At our awards banquet he got up and talked. While fighting back tears he thanked the young man who wasn't a great player for giving him a ride everyday, and being a rock that he could lean on. This kid wasn't "just" a third team player. He was the most valuable teammate we had. 

If you are a middle school coach and you are coaching the defensive line, be the best defensive line coach you can be. Be the best role model you can be. Be the best encourager of your players. Love them unconditionally and teach them to love the game. Don't coach with a negative attitude because you think you should be the defensive coordinator, or the head coach. It's not about you and your ego. It is solely about the kids you coach. If you dog cuss them and break their spirit, you are not making them tough. Coach them FOR them, and with their best interests in mind. Coach them to be their very best, whatever that might be. Give them a love of the game and a love of being coached. 

Regardless of what level you are on, or what your title is, work hard to improve your craft. Go to clinics, talk to coaches, and soak in as much information as you can. Coach everyday with the purpose of helping the young men you coach to be the best they can be. Some of the best coaches I have been around are at the middle school and youth level. Your level has no bearing on the quality of coach you are! 

You are not "just" anything. You are the most important coach in the lives of your players right now. Coach with enthusiasm and passion knowing you are going to help them achieve more than they thought possible. 

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: 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:

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:

Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

One of the keys to our success was tremendous preparation!The key to  preparation was our outstanding group of documents we used for all three phases. If you are looking for fully editable and customizable documents that you can tailor to your program, I have made mine available. 

Here is a link to my offensive game planning documents:
It includes everything from a scouting report template, to practice plans, to a two-sided color call sheet, and more! Each of the nine documents are fully editable and customizable! Order today for under $15 and download them tonight!

Here is a link to the defensive game planning documents. It includes 12 fully editable and customizable documents.

And finally, I put together a special teams resource. This has everything you need, included drill tape, practice tape, and game footage. It includes teaching presentations and scouting forms just for special teams!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Combining RPO's and Tempo to Create a Dominating Offense!

I am on my way to talk RPO's and Tempo, and I thought this was a great time to share some thoughts! 

Football is an ever evolving game, with coaches at all levels trying to gain an advantage. Coaches attend clinics, visit other staffs, and communicate via social media to share thoughts on how to best attack their opponents. Over the last ten to fifteen years we have seen huge innovations that have led to explosions in offensive football. The two biggest elements affecting this are RPO's and Tempo. Teams that use either of these are increasing their explosive plays and scoring more points. But the schools that are really blowing circuits on the scoreboard... are the teams combining these two elements together!

Not since the forward pass have we seen an innovation that will change the game for generations. Offenses that have the ability to change tempos and play very fast put enormous pressure on the defense. When you combine this with Run-Pass Options, the defense is in a serious bind. Offenses aren't running new plays to score more points, they are simply running tried and true concepts faster than ever before.

Let's start by introducing a simple RPO concept. RPO's are simply run pass options. What we have done, in a nutshell, is built in a pass concept with every single run we have. If we call a run, someone is running a pass route of some sort. We build them into our calls, and a one word call says it all. 

My favorite base run concept is the inside zone read. The inside zone read attacks the inside gaps of the defense, while allowing the quarterback to "read" a defender. Typically this will be the backside C gap defender after the snap. The reason we say "after" the snap, is because the player in the C gap presnap may not be the C gap player post snap. 

With our inside zone read concept the offensive line is going to use covered/uncovered rules. A covered frontside lineman is going to work in combination with an adjacent uncovered lineman to account for the down lineman and linebacker. It is a two tracking two concept. Below is a diagram showing this principle. 

In the figure on the left the defense ran a gap exchange stunt. We coach the offensive lineman to read color. If color comes to me I block color. If color goes away I help secure the down guy and climb to backer. In the figure on the right, the defense plays their base gaps. Before climbing to the backer the center helps to secure the down guy. We have two simple rules. Secure the down guy first, and don't chase backers. Their landmark is the playside jersey number of the down defender. We want to dent the line of scrimmage and get movement. This pairs well with outside zone because the defensive line doesn't know initially if you are trying to lock the box or get vertical.

Inside zone read in itself is a great concept, but when you build a pass concept into it, it becomes much more difficult to defend. We are going to build in a quick game concept to both sides of our inside zone read. From a 2x2 set we are going to build in what we call quick. Many call this Smoke or Now. The #1 WR is going to show fast feet and fast hands and step back behind the LOS. The #2 WR is going to take a flat angle of departure and read the MDM or Most Dangerous Man. Below is a diagram of the Inside Zone Read RPO concept from a 2x2 set vs. a 4-4 defense. 

The quarterback is going to make a very quick presnap read. If we have leverage on the edge we are going to throw the quick. If we don't, we are going to execute the run. If he feels like we have leverage to either side, he is going to catch and throw. He doesn't have to say anything to anyone. The offensive line is going to block the run. They assume we are going to run the ball every play. The receivers to both sides assume we are going to throw the quick every play. This can be called with one word. You do not need to tag the quick game concept. 

Before we married our run and pass concepts, we hated to see a loaded box. Teams would leave the boundary receiver uncovered and get an extra player in the box. Below is an illustration of what teams would do to get another defender in the box. 

We were not going to be able to account for the 7th defender in the box if we ran the ball. But with our RPO concepts, we immediately can snap the ball and take advantage of the perimeter advantage we have. It becomes very difficult for the defense to have enough players in the box while still defending our skill players. 

What really takes this concept to another level, however, is the ability to use tempo. We use six basic tempos in our offense. One of those tempos is what we call Nascar. Like a lot of you, when we go Nascar we are going to go as fast as we can. As soon as the play ends our players are hustling to the ball while looking at the sideline. As they get the signal for our Inside Zone Read at Nascar Tempo, they are going to sprint to the line and execute the play. The defense has to decipher the formation, make their strength calls and communicate coverage, and get their hand down and get ready to play. Our goal is to snap the ball with 32 seconds on the play clock. We want to snap the ball as soon as the ref's hand is out of the way.

The defense now has to defend 6 gaps. They have to have a dive and a quarterback player, and they have to account for 2 receivers to each side. That in itself is difficult. But when we go at Nascar Tempo, that is a game changer. This is why so many defensive coaches hate the game being played fast. 

Each time you run your inside zone read RPO the play is going to be different. We once ran this 7 times in a rowing a game. The first time we threw to the right. The second time we threw to the left. The third time we threw right. The fourth time we executed the run. The fifth time the defense had 13 men on the field because they were trying to substitute. The next play we threw to the left. The smallest gain was 8 yards. Below is a diagram of our first down play.

The outside backers were hipped, so our QB threw the quick concept. The outside receiver made the catch and got vertical, working back to the sideline. This was a 10 yard gain. After giving up big yards on the quick, the backers lined up wide. We ran the zone read. The read player squatted to play the quarterback and the pistol back gained big yards. This is illustrated below.

It is very difficult to defend the inside zone read with 5 players. The more tackles the safeties made, the better. Every tackle they made was in the secondary. Because we played fast, the defense could not get a new call into the game, nor could they make an adjustment. They were chaotically trying to get their linebackers and secondary to change alignments, but no matter what they did, we had an advantage somewhere. 

Here is a video clip of the Inside Zone Read Concept being used at Nascar Tempo. The clips shows two plays. In the second clip you can see the defense trying to run a 12th player off the field. They are frantically trying to get a timeout. The crazy thing was this was not nearly as fast as we can play. That was our first game installing this! The amount of pressure you put on the defense is enormous! And, we don't have to guess whether we should call a run or a pass. We make a call and let the quarterback choose the best place to go! 

The greatest part of this is how simple it is to communicate. We can use one word calls that tell everyone the formation, play, and pass routes. You can use any word you want. Today's generation uses acronyms and processes things in shorter bursts. The days of having 9 word calls that told everyone what to do are long gone. We need to give them bits of information in short bursts. This allows them to play faster, and it allows your offense to play at a  pace so fast the defense cannot catch up. 

People ask me about whether their quarterback can do this. I tell them nearly every quarterback is capable of running this concept. We are throwing a pass we complete at about 98 percent to a good athlete in space. The quarterback simply needs to be trained on what he is looking for. They will make some mistakes early, but with experience they will be able to make these reads in their sleep.

This is just one of the many concepts you can use to build RPO's into your offense and play with great tempo. If you want to learn more, I have written two new books. I wrote a book RPO's and a book on Tempo. I want these books to be accessible without worrying about $$$. They are available as an apple iBook and on Amazon. The iBook version contains embedded video! These two books will revolutionize your offense! 

In my RPO book I describe in detail a systematic process to install RPO's. I go over first level, second level, third level, and multi-level reads. I show you how to scaffold the install and build a system that will fit what you are already doing. 

Here is a picture of the cover with some quotes from other coaches on the book:

Here is a link to the iBook version of my RPO book:
If you have an iPad or iPhone, buy the ibooks version! If you don't have an apple device, you can order the paperback version! It is available on Amazon!

Also, I have a Kindle version for sale on Amazon. Here is a link to that version: Kindle Version of Coach Vint's RPO Book on Amazon. The kindle version has everything but the video.

The other part of this equation is adding Tempo. A lot of coaches ask me to help them install different elements of tempo into their offense. The book I wrote will take you through a detailed, systematic process of building tempo into your existing offense. Here is a picture of what coaches are saying: 

The iBook version for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac contains over an hour of embedded video! I give you a systematic process to build tempo into your offense. I show you multiple ways to communicate your concepts, including sign boards! Here is a link to the iBooks version:

It is also available on Amazon if you have an Android or Windows device. You can find it here: Coach Vint's Book on Tempo on Amazon

Combining Tempo with RPO concepts will change the game of football for generations. Any offensive system can adapt these principles without changing the structure of you offense. The biggest issue many schools face is simply thinking they can only use RPO's part of the time. You never have to call a run again that isn't protected by a pass concept. 

I hope you have found something of value in this post! I wish you the best as you prepare for your season! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Social Media: The Power To Build and Power To Destroy

The advent of social media has changed our society forever. Nothing today is going to be done anonymously. Everything will have a digital footprint. If someone takes a picture at a party and you are there, chances are you are in the picture. They might be taking a picture with you in the background. But with facial recognition software, you may end up being the star of the picture.

Social Media is not all bad. Used correctly it can be a powerful tool that can be used many different ways. Nearly everyone can find a positive use for social media. Unfortunately, one bad tweet, post, or snapchat can be the downfall of the young and old.

For student-athletes, social media can be an outstanding way to build your brand. You may not realize this, but if you are on any social media platform you are building your brand. However, if you don't build your brand with intent, you may be giving people the wrong picture of you.

If misused, social media can be a very powerful tool of destruction. One negative tweet can result in the loss of a job or a scholarship. One negative tweet can destroy a friendship. One bad Facebook post can give people a negative perception of you, and perception to many becomes reality.

Every winter we hear the stories of a school dropping a recruit because of something they do or say on social media. College coaches do not want to recruit headaches. They want to recruit great athletes who will represent their program with class. They will monitor your Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat accounts. One negative tweet or retweet, and you are no longer on the board.

One the other side, you can use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to build a brand that a school will be proud to have in their program. You can show your community service, your leadership, your ability to build people up, and of course, your athletic ability. I am not talking about bragging about your talent and your stats. Your play on the field takes care of itself. I am talking about a tweet to a classmate who may be having a bad day. Or, sending an inspirational picture on Instagram and tagging a teammate who might need to lifted up. Used appropriately, people can see the greatness you have inside of you.

Social media doesn't lie. It will distort, but it won't lie. The thing is, everything you post is a choice. It is a choice to post something positive or negative. Before you post, like, or retweet something, ask yourself these questions:

1. How will the coaches recruiting me see me if I post this?

2. Will this help me get recruited, or will this hurt me?

3. Is this tweet going to make me look like a liability to a school recruiting me?

4. What will my teammates, parents, coaches, and future coaches think of me?

5. Would I want to be teammates with someone doing this?

If you aren't sure if the post will help or hurt you, then don't post it. It probably isn't good. If it is negative, don't post it.

If you are new to social media, here are a couple of ways to build your brand:
1. Post a link to your highlight film. This is a way to get it viewed. One post will not get it viewed. Post it a couple of times a week.

2. Post positive messages for your teammates and classmates. This goes a long way to build good will and shows potential coaches you care about others.

3. Post pictures of you doing good things. If you are doing a service project, post a picture. If you get an award or honor, post a picture. Make sure you thank others in the picture. It is bigger than you.

4. Tag coaches in your positive posts. If you get an award, tag a college coach recruiting you.

5. Retweet Uplifting messages: If you see something uplifting, retweet or share it. If a classmate or teammate does something great, share it or tweet about it. If someone is down, tweet something that might lift them up.

The ultimate question is, how do you want people to see you? How do you want college coaches to see you? You can't use twitter to impress the wrong people and the right people at the same time. You can't use Instagram and Facebook to impress the wrong people and right people at the same time. You have to make the right choices when it comes to social media. Remember, everything is retrievable. If you say something stupid, it will be screen captured and archived. It will never disappear.

If you make positive choices, social media can be great for building your brand. If you make negative choices, social media destroy opportunities. Don't let 140 characters ruin an opportunity for you.

Shameless plug: I wrote two 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: 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: