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!


  1. Coaches, this may be the single most important thing you ever read about your responsibilities as a coach...

    1. Thank you, I am glad you liked it. That means a lot!