As a high school teacher and football coach, the old adage is “football doesn’t pay the bills”. People who utter these words aren’t aware of the amount of time, effort and shoe leather that goes into running a successful program.
Think of the program as a car: You can do the bare minimum and change the oil twice a year, wash at the end of the winter, etc. Your car runs, but are you getting the most performance out of your machine? Compare that to the person who washes and details their vehicle regularly, keeps the tires properly inflated and rotated, and gets all scheduled maintenance done on time regardless of cost and inconvenience. The later description is often called a “car guy” and, for the purposes of this discussion, the equivalent to a high school football coach.
In football, the games are going to be played regardless, but are you really setting yourself up for success or just participating? The successful high school football coach follows a plan and performs tasks regardless of personal inconvenience, making sure all of the pieces are not only performing properly in the offseason, but also in the classroom.
There are three key things that we do at Westfield High School to keep our components timed and up-to-date. We believe that the football offseason is a time of recovery and a chance to get involved with other sports, so these things are not physically taxing to the athletes, but are designed to keep the players (and coaches) informed and in touch.
Film your offseason meetings and upload to Hudl
- This requires little effort but brings maximum benefit. How many times does a player tell you he can’t make a team meeting? Whether the reason is 100% valid and understandable, or it is an off-the-wall excuse, the result is the same. Tell the player to check their Hudl account under ‘MISC’ and they can get all of the info they missed. At Westfield, the link is sent out to our parents, as well. Everyone in the program is hearing the same thing. (Tip: Make sure you publish your video with sound!)
Upload clinic and drill tapes
- If you are like us, the beginning of January signals “clinic season”. These meetings run the gambit from very informative to very social. This is the time of year that you can reflect on what you do and see what else is out there. One of the greatest things about the coaching profession is how open our colleagues are to helping one another. Our defensive coordinator is moving to the offense this year and recently reached out to colleges for drill tapes. Within a week, we had a collection of spring cut-ups and realized how great it would be if our O-line coach could see them, so we started uploading the drill tapes to Hudl and placing them in the CLINIC tab for all coaches to view.
- At Westfield, we have many multisport athletes. This is even more evident in the spring with our successful lacrosse, baseball and track programs. It’s important to respect the other sports’ seasons, as we expect the same from them in the fall. So how do you stay in touch with the athletes committed to other teams? Once a month, we bring position groups into the football office to have lunch. Our emphasis is on building relationships among coaches and players, not the amount of work put into each meeting. Film is usually involved, but most times it is not to watch ourselves. We watch college tapes or other teams from around the area. We use these films as conversation pieces to help the players grow and strengthen interactions. If you don’t have any films from anyone else, reach out to coaches who are not on your schedule and ask them to share a film or two. (And be ready to reciprocate!)
Folks who don’t understand the year-round commitment and self-sacrifice that good football programs possess miss out on the impact we have on the young men and women around us. Just as the consistently cared for car runs reliably in the worst conditions, using your offseason as a chance to perform needed team maintenance ensures consistency in the program. You can give your players the rest they need after a long season while still using your tools to put the team in position to hit the ground running in August.