Developing Leadership and other Tips for Coaches
Summer is upon us, and depending on the state where you currently coach, and depending on the level of competition, you may either have nearly unlimited access to your players or none at all. Regardless, now that the spring semester is coming to a close, most coaches minds have shifted to the fall and how best to prepare.
In the last email I sent out to subscribers, I wanted to know what kind of challenges your teams were facing at this time of the year. Some of the most common responses were about developing leadership, and the kinds of team-building activities a coach can put together for the team.
On that note, I wanted to go over a few points that Chris Fore covers in his excellent book on building and improving your program called Building Championship-Caliber Football Programs.
First, a few notes about the book. Coach Fore has done a marvelous job compiling information from state championship winning coaches from every state in the country. The book is separated by topic, with coaches commentary throughout each chapter, and also contains a
Coach Fore does excellent work over at his site EightLaces.org and has put in a lot of time and effort to compile valuable insights from championship coaches all over the country.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a head coach, a long-time assistant, or a new coach just starting out, this book will help you develop your coaching philosophy and will probably force you to think about things you’ve never thought about before.
Page 55 – “Develop Year Your-Round Philosophy”
Coach Fore presents the reader with some questions worth thinking about, including:
- Do you support student-athletes playing multiple sports?
- If you do, will those kids lift during their basketball or baseball season
- Have you spoken with the other head coaches at your school about your offseason program?
- Do the athletic director and principal support a year-round off-season program?
Just as important as making a decision and developing the plan that is your off season program, it’s also important that you involve the other coaches and administrators in your building in the planning and that you communicate your intentions.
Unfortunately, some of us have had bad experiences with coaches from other sports who may have overstepped their authority and intruded on a “shared” athlete during the fall season. I personally have experienced this, when a coach in a winter sport suggested that one of our athletes get seas0n-ending surgery in the middle of the fall in order to get ready for winter competition.
As annoying as those types of situations are, think about the same thing happening from their perspective. At many high schools in this country, football is viewed as the top sport at the school. Even so, think of how disrespected you would feel as the coach of another sport if the football coach made preparations for an off season conditioning program that included multi-sport athletes, but didn’t bother to consult you about your schedule or the availability of the athletes.
Instead of working against each other, the athletic department as a whole benefits when everyone sees themselves as part of the same team and working toward the same goal.
Page 67 – Five Tools to Develop Leadership in your Program
This was another great section in the book. Let’s cover just one of them.
“Put your leaders in charge, and hold them more accountable than the rest of the team.” – Coach Fore
If you want to develop leaders, sometimes you have to force them to lead. Coach Fore usually does this with his junior class once the off season begins. He’ll choose a group of juniors who he feels are the best leaders (or potential leaders) and begin by letting them choose the shirts, shorts, and practice gear they’ll wear for the next season. He also lets them choose the theme of that next season.
This is a great example of getting your upperclassmen to take ownership of the team. The specific decisions you allow them to make are not as important as the fact that they are making at least some of the decisions that mean something to them. Whether they’re choosing the practice gear, the theme for the season, or the pre-game music, if your players feel like they have a stake in the success or failure of the team, they’ll be that much more invested in it.
One other interesting thing he mentions is that how the players attack this task is usually pretty indicative of how they perform the following season:
“I have had one group say, ‘We do not really care, coach. Just choose a theme and the stuff you want us to wear.’ That team went 0-10, I’m not kidding (the worst season of my life, obviously).”
Ultimately, the major selling point of the book to me is that you’re not just getting one coach’s opinion, but the opinions and insight of dozens of championship coaches from across the country.
I would recommend that once you’ve finished the book and identified several coaches who you would really like to learn from, you look them up and get in touch with them. Coaching is an amazing business, and one of the biggest reasons is because of the willingness to share the tricks of the trade with one another.
Do yourself a favor, get this book, and take the time to learn about what it takes to create championship-caliber football programs every day of the year.
You can get the book HERE. Order now and use the coupon code “Kirby” and save 10% off if you order through eightlaces.org.
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