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Luke Warner

Coach Preparing his team for Spring Football Practice

3 Major Football Spring Ball Expectations

By | Coaches Resources, Football

Coach Preparing his team for Spring Football Practice

This article was written by Paul Swanson Jr, from Z-Winning Mindset, an organization that was built to help teams and individuals reach their full potential in sports, school, and life. In this article, Coach Swanson breaks down three expectations for your football team entering Spring Ball. 


3 Major Football Spring Ball Expectations

Attitude: Coaches and players both understand the importance of a positive attitude in sport. But attitude can be the difference in a constructive practice and a wasted practice. From the starting 1’s all the way down to the scout team special teams group, each player and coach must be willing to learn and grow every day.

The moment a player or coach’s attitude becomes complacent is when a team’s improvement begins to subside. A positive attitude during a meeting, single drill, conditioning or a game- can make continual learning and overcoming adversity acceptable and even NECESSARY.

Effort: Relentless effort is what separates a good player from a GREAT player. Effort plays are often measured by top tier programs and organizations and they certainly add value to a player’s attributes. High effort players, often referred to as “HIGH-MOTOR” players can change the entire momentum of a practice or game.

They set the tone both in games and practice. A “high-motor” coach can also change the landscape of a team’s culture as well. Focusing on effort before and during competition is crucial to our mindset as coaches and athletes. Applying it every day is critical.

Aggressiveness: Football is a sport of controlled aggression. Short bursts of violence and energy that must be methodical and calculated. Mentally preparing for these encounters will separate the play-MAKERS from the average players.

Unfortunately, football has been geared towards plain, old, AGGRESSION that sometimes can be used without motive or direction. Having tools that mentally steer our mind and effort each practice, each game, and every play can have an incredible impact on the overall success of a team.

These 3 spring-ball expectations all have one thing in common… Controllable. Attitude, effort, and aggressiveness are all under our own control. To be great, we must capitalize on what we can control mentally.

Additional Resources:

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Connect with Coach Swanson on Twitter

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What Do You Value? Check Your Practice Plan

By | Coaches Resources, Football

Head Football Coach is using his practice plan to give instruction to a player

This article was written by Scott Heitland, Head Football Coach at Dallas Center-Grimes High School (IA). Scott has been a football coach for 20+ years with 15 years as a head coach. In this article, Coach Heitland breaks down the overlooked, yet important aspect of coaching: The Practice Plan. It can originally be found on igfootballcoach.com


What Do You Value? Check Your Practice Plan

How many times have you looked at it? Because we all have them and we all look at them before the season. What am I talking about? That sheet you put into your coach’s handbook that lists the items that you place as the guiding principles of your football program.

Things like: PHYSICAL – EFFORT – FUNDAMENTALS – and PRIDE.

We all develop these to show to our kids and coaches what we believe are things that will lead us to success. But the question I ask today is, how well do you follow through on those in your practice plan, games, and points of emphasis?

Do you work these into your actions throughout the week or do they just look really nice on the paper? What we are talking about here are “stated values” and “operational values “.

Stated values are what we say we value and the level of importance that we attach to each value. Operational values are what we actually value by our actions, how we make decisions, and how we resolve conflict.

During the off-season, when we all review and reflect on what is important, it is easy to sit back and say certain things are important to us. We dive into them, maybe read a book or two, and then talk with our coaching staff about them. We work them into our handbooks and player communications.

But as the season starts, and as our time and attention gets pulled in various directions, do we follow through on them? I know that over the past 15 seasons, I have had values that I feel are important stated in our communication that have not been worked into my practice plan, player discussions, and staff meetings like they should have.

We have operated in a way that didn’t connect to those things that we determined to be important. So how can we become better at making sure that stated values are also our operational values?

One way that you can easily check is to dive into your practice plan. All of us put great time and effort into planning each week.

As we enter the off-season, it is a great time to go back and look to see if we are following through. The bottom line is that where we spend our time throughout the week reflects what we place value in as coaches, or in other words, our operational values.

At DC-G, I place a big emphasis on fundamentals. For me, this is reflected in our individual time where we develop and drill the things that help make each player a solid performer.

One of my biggest mentors in coaching was Ed Thomas, the former head coach at Aplington-Parkersburg. Coach Thomas and I had many conversations as I began as a head coach and he would always remind me that if you placed an emphasis on the fundamentals that you always have a chance to win. He felt that too many coaches get caught up in what you do being more important than how you were doing it.

At the end of each season, I go back and look at our practice plans to see what kind of time we are giving this part of practice. If I am saying that it is important (stated value), then we better be committing a specific time each day to it (operational value).

Furthermore, when I look at the practice plan, I need to evaluate what we are doing to be sure that it is beneficial to our players. I want to make sure that the drills and techniques are ones that relate to play on the field.

When I find someone on the game field doing something that connects to a drill at practice, I make sure to point it out in our team meeting to show them that this time and drill is valuable and paying off. These things show support of the stated values and reinforce with coaches and kids that what we are doing is important. (Operational values)

At DC-G, I encourage my assistant coaches to find the 6-8 drills that they feel are vital to their kids developing at their position. Once they find those, we drill them each week all season long.

I believe that if we get distracted by too many drills or get caught up in a “cool” drill that doesn’t connect to the field, we are wasting our time. We don’t have enough time each week to get caught wasting it.

By choosing the 6-8 drills you can rotate through, you can show the kids that how you do something is of the utmost importance. You can coach the details and little things that will allow them to find success against their opponents.

As I look at this past season’s plans, I found that we committed time to individual drills every day for at least 15-20 minutes. That adds up to an hour of practice time each week spent on becoming better athletes at our positions.

I now have to evaluate if it was adequate. Are the drills being focused upon ones that help kids translate to the field? What I did notice in my evaluation this year was that we got away from this a bit late in the year. When I discovered this, I had to ask myself what pulled us away?

Was it something that I let us slip on or was there a reason that it happened? I need to talk with my assistants and ask them for their opinion on what we did and the impact that it had on us. I like having these conversations with them as I feel it gives them more ownership in what is happening and when they feel like they have ownership, they invest more. (See Coach, You Make the Difference)

So where do you spend your time? Do you spend it on things during the week that you value and that helps you win games?

Take a week this off-season and evaluate your practice plans closely and see if your stated values reflect your operational values. I promise it will be time well spent and will also result in you making better decisions that will help you win football games.

 If you would like to follow up with any questions or ideas, don’t hesitate to email me at:

scott.heitland@dcgschools.com

Good luck!

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Building a Culture of Trust

By | Baseball, Basketball, Coaches Resources, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, Wrestling

This article was originally written by Wes Simmons from @3DCoaches and it can originally be found on 3Dinstitute.com, a website dedicated to providing a framework for coaching built on a foundation of purpose and delivered through workshops and online learning. In this article, Wes discusses building trust within your program.


Building a Culture of Trust

Building a culture of trust is imperative if we want our teams to reach their fullest potential. Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. Any sustainable success we achieve is directly related to the processes we conceive. Good processes are what drive good results, so we need to help athletes learn to TRUST the process.

To build extraordinary teams, our team members must learn to TRUST in extraordinary ways.

To establish a culture of trust, it’s helpful to think about how trust needs to work for an athlete in 3 directions: upward, inward and outward.

Upward

First, athletes must trust US as their coaches (upward). As those in authority over our teams, we should regularly look in the mirror and ask ourselves questions like, “Do MY attitudes and actions breed trust or do they undermine it?”

As leaders, it’s essential that our words and actions line up. As athletes learn to trust us, they will become much more likely to trust the PROCESSES that we lay out for their development as individuals and as teams.

Inward

If our processes are right, and athletes buy into them because of their trust in us, their confidence will be on the rise. With hard work, repetition, and patience, our athletes will begin to trust in their OWN ABILITIES at a new level as well.

In other words, their trust will not only be UPWARD toward you as a coach but INWARD toward themselves. This is an essential character quality that will empower them to not only face adversity in pressurized sport situations but in the pressurized situations of life. If we can establish this type of confidence in our athletes, we set them up for success on and off the field.

Outward

Athletes need to trust UPWARD in you as the coach. They also need to trust INWARD in their own developed skill-set. Finally, they need to trust OUTWARD toward their teammates.

When you have a team full of individuals who trust that everyone else on the team will do THEIR job, great things begin to happen. And when it works in all 3 directions, UPWARD, INWARD, and OUTWARD, our culture begins to permeate with trust.

Where To Start

One of the best ways to GAIN trust is to GIVE trust. When we show our athletes that we trust them, that trust will begin to be reciprocated.

Remember, it starts with US. First and foremost, we need to demonstrate ourselves as being worthy to be trusted. One of the best ways to GAIN trust is to GIVE trust. When we show our athletes that we trust them, that trust will begin to be reciprocated. Here’s a short clip from a 3D Coaching Workshop where I was sharing along these lines:

When we’re intentional about giving more trust to our athletes, it should cause us to think carefully about the role of rules on our teams. Team rules are important, but we must always be willing to (re)evaluate our team rules in the light of relationships. Besides protecting people from various forms of harm, I believe rules should mostly exist to protect relationships.

If we want to build a culture of trust, we need relationships to flourish in every direction.

If this is our desire, as Joe Ehrmann has convincingly demonstrated, we really only need to enact 2 primary team rules:

  1. Coaches love your athletes
  2. Athletes love each other

If these rules define the boundaries for our programs, relationships will thrive, trust will skyrocket, and we will be well on our way to creating great team cohesion.

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Connect with Wes Simmons on Twitter 

People Are More Important Than Tasks

By | Coaches Resources, Football

This article was originally written by Chris Fore on coachfore.org Coach Fore also owns Eight Laces Consulting and provides resources for football coaches across the country. In this article, Chris discussed the importance of the person when running practice. 


People Are More Important Than Tasks

I recently read something fascinating in a book called Supervision and Instructional Leadership by Carl D. Glickman.  He explained something about group meetings at schools that got me thinking about football practice.

Let us face it, we have all dreaded staff meetings at schools for one reason or another.  Many times that we dread those meetings, is because nothing will apply to us.  Therefore, those meetings are just a waste of time.

It got me thinking about football “group meetings,” or what we call practice. 

How many of our practices are a complete waste of time to the kids coming?  

If the practice doesn’t apply to them, what is that going to do to the direction of your team over the course of a season?

As a coach, we have many, many different goals for our season, for each game week, and for each practice.  Sometimes the goal is to install a new kick return, or maybe it is a new blitz.  We have different goals for our kids.  For one, it might be to earn a college scholarship while for another we would love to see him start a few games.

So, there is a delicate balance that coaches must evaluate: the goals of the groups and the goals of the individual. 

Glickman calls this “the two dimensions of an effective professional group.” I don’t think that this idea applies only to a professional group, it applies to our high school football teams as well, and specifically to our practices.  You can simply exchange the word practice for the word group.

The leader must split the meeting (practice) in to two separate “dimensions.” 

He calls these the “task dimension” and the “person dimension.” 

The “task dimension” represents “the content and purpose of the group meeting (practice).” There is a task or tasks to accomplish and the group sets out to accomplish that task or tasks.  For instance, installing 3 new plays for this weeks’ game might be today’s practice task.

The “person dimension” involves the “interpersonal process and the satisfaction participants derive from working with each other.”  Each of our players has needs.  Social needs, physical needs, emotional needs.  They are all playing football for a different reason.  As a coach, it is key to understand the individual needs of our players.

This is where we see big differences in programs. 

When kids feel and know that their Head Coach, or their unit coach, or position coach actually cares for them as a person, not just a teammate, we find successful programs. 

Glickman says that in the professional meeting world, when there is  concern for each individual, then it leads to a positive group climate.  And when there is a positive group climate, the individuals will want to meet as a group again and again and again.

This is where the light bulb went on for me! The teams where I’ve had great team chemistry, the kids wanted to be there. 

They wanted that group to meet often.  Why?  Because they felt valued.  They felt as if their individual contributions, the “people dimension,” were worthy to be added to the team.  They had something to offer, and they wanted to offer it.  They felt valued as a person.

Glickman would say that we achieved great “person dimension” that led to great “task dimension” as a group.  Do you see how that works together?

The very same thing applies to coaching staffs.  I’m sure we have all been on staffs that worked very well together, and other staffs that did not.  

Glickman would analyze the group and probably find that “task dimension” became more important than “people dimension.”  Therefore, the people didn’t like the meetings, and didn’t want to be there.

The takeaway: remember to value your players as people too.

If you’re a Head Coach, remember that your staff is made up of people.  If the players want to be there, and the coaches want to be there, then the task dimension is going to come together so well. The work will be done with satisfaction and effort like you’ve never seen!

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Connect with Coach Fore on Twitter

D-Line Play in the 3-3 Stack Defense

By | Coaches Resources, Football

This article was written by Darrin Sheffer, Coach at Brentville District HS (VA), and founder of the Obsessed with Offense Blog. Coach Sheffer has recently transitioned into coaching defense, and has successfully utilized the 3-3 Stack defense into his system.


D-Line Play in the 3-3 Stack Defense


As a former Offensive guy I used to participate in the age old debate of “What Scheme best fits my players”.  Well, turns out that Defensive guys have the exact same debate. 

One of the questions I constantly see on Twitter goes something like “I’ve got small/average sized lineman and we play teams that are bigger and stronger than us, what can we do about it?” 

Well, I don’t claim to have all the answers for you Coach, but I would tell you that you may want to look into the 3-3 Stack Defense. 

Even though I have only been in this defense for one season I really do believe that the Stack can get your smaller linemen in better positions for success.  

The Stack is great for teams who have smaller/faster lineman, but even if you have bigger/stronger guys you could still run the Stack because it is extremely flexible. 

The way that we run it at our HS fits our smaller guys better (our biggest lineman this season was 220 lbs) because our line slanted on every single play. 

We had over 20 different calls for D-Line slants and stunts, but we had 4 main Slant calls we focused on: Strong, Weak, Pinch and Loop. 

We believe that having our guys focus on their movement and slanting had them in better positions than the type of gap assignments you see in 4-3 or 4-2-5 defenses.

Techniques for D-Line in Stack

If you are thinking about going to the Stack you may need to rethink the types of techniques you are teaching your linemen.  Because we are focusing on using movement on each play, the speed of your players “get-off” and hitting gaps on the slants are more important than attacking O-Lineman shoulders. 

You also won’t need to work much on bull rushing, instead focus on hand fighting and wrist control.  The point here is to be fast into the gap and get the O-line hands off of you. 

The last thing we want in the Stack is for our small lineman to get into a stalemate with a bigger stronger guy.  Also, because of the fact that we have multiple movements up front, and multiple blitzes with LBs, the O-Line will have no idea where your players are going which can cause havoc up front.  

 If you have any questions feel free to contact me on Twitter @darrinsheffer 

Stay Obsessed 

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What do YOU think?

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

This article is from Radius Athletics, a basketball coaching consulting firm that exists to serve, grow and develop basketball coaches at all levels. 


What do YOU think?

In the summer of 2015 some coaching friends encouraged me to begin sharing basketball info on social media and in blogs.

This information was well received and thanks to some hard work and strategic affiliations, Radius Athletics was born and I began offering my time to help coaches.

At first I thought this was going to be all about sharing X’s & O’s, drills and diagrams, but soon I realized some real and bigger needs had to precede that. We needed to have “macro” level conversations before any “micro” level conversations.

One day, in one of those micro-level conversations, I was leading an online clinic with a coach about man-to-man defense. We were making our way through technical matters such as stance, positioning and help rotations.

Throughout the conversation the coach kept interjecting with counterpoints to what I was sharing along these lines:

“I hear you coach, but I was at a clinic one time and I heard Izzo say…”

“I have the defensive DVD series from Geno Auriemma and he says…”

Growing frustrated, I stopped and asked the coach, “What do YOU think?”

The coach was a veritable encyclopedia of information on what the “big name” coaches thought about defensive matters but did not have thoughts of his own.

Coaching is not a trivia contest. Before you put the whistle around your neck and walk into the gym to run your first practice as head coach make up your own mind about how you want to teach things.

Sure, your ideas and teaching points may mirror those of a “big name” coach, but they will also run counter to the opinions of others.

I get it. There are insecurities at play here. You want to make sure you are teaching what is “right” or “best” and studying the teachings of prominent and accomplished coaches is a way of seeking validation.

But Izzo and Geno are not coaching your team, you are. Your players will not be asking Geno and Izzo the why’s and how’s of defense, they’ll be asking YOU.

It is not a waste of time to study the game and the teachings of others more experienced and accomplished, but you will run into conflicting information.

Prominent coaches and non-prominent coaches alike will have differing thoughts on the exact same matters. There will be no consensus.

Will you drown while swimming in the sea of conflicting information that exists? Going too far down this road or depending on validation from others is a slippery slope due to the vast amount of conflicting information in the basketball universe.

Coaching is about decisions and tradeoffs. Decide what you want to teach based on the tradeoffs you can live with. It is about instilling your vision on your team.

YOU will have to decide what you want to teach on matters big and small. Not easy. And what is even harder is then tuning out the abundance of conflicting information that runs counter to what you have decided.

Part of what we do with coaches is help them articulate their thoughts and beliefs. We help them spell out how they want their programs and teams to play the game. Of course, they may be influenced by other coaches and standing upon the work of others is part of coaching.

But first form your ideals, then second commit to them even in the face of well-reasoned disagreement.

It begins with the question, “What do YOU think?”

Continue the conversation:

For help with articulating what you want for your teams and programs please reach out and join our community for basketball coaches!

Any questions, contact us. Happy to talk hoops any time day or night! Sign up here for our twice-monthly newsletter for basketball coaches!

Connect with Radius Athletics on Twitter

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