Accountability of the Coach/Leader

Gonzalez BFA .002

A four part webinar series consisting of four 90 minute sessions will begin on February 10th.  Coach Gonzalez will be presenting material not included in this series. We are excited about depth and detail of what he is presenting. More information and registration will be available later today. Email me  Put “Gonzalez” in the subject line. Upon your registration you will receive a code for A Coaching Arsenal iBook and be entered in a drawing to win 5 Coaches Edge current or future titles of your choice.

From The Need For Change by Dan Gonzalez.

Accountability.  The very word seems, at times, lost in today’s society.   One of the things to love about sports (and our sport in particular) is that it is one of the few realms of our culture in which accountability is viewed as it should be.  As coaches, we preach accountability from teammate to teammate, and from teammate to the coaches/ program.  But what about coaches’ accountability to the players?  Coaches ask for complete faith and trust on the part of the player; often times, however, one can question whether or not the coach deserved that trust from a play calling/ system perspective.

As a coach, I was constantly looking for ways to improve my methods.  No doubt, many coaches are of the same mindset.  However, a completely honest look at many systems will reveal the need for improvement.

Formationing that eliminates unnecessary verbiage, while at the same time, minimizes memorization.  In the no huddle era that we live in, many teams will simply designate corresponding “L” and “R” words to formation structures.  While this may seem like a reasonable solution, it is dependent on rote memorization; this structure minimizes verbiage, and yet has structured rules for each position group.

In this chapter,  Gonzalez continues with the them of accountability and covers the following:

Coding Structure – Create a simple and easily learnable way to code your offense so that it is player-friendly.

Communicating Intentions – The coach must accept responsibility to guide the leader of the offense, and have a way to communicate his intentions.

System based on player needs – It is the coach’s job to orchestrate and guide; putting the needs of the player ahead of everything in a system is the ultimate in servant-leadership.

Carry over – concepts are applicable for every level of the program.

Moving the Star Player  – The best way to create explosive plays is to get the ball to your play maker.

Overcoming injury – The Ohio State Buckeyes did this.  Gonzalez builds this factor into the system.

Gonzalez explains this and other concepts through text, video, and interactive presentations.

If you are looking to improve your offense, Dan Gonzalez series Developing an Offensive System is a must-have resource.

Get Part 2:  The Blue Print. Loaded with content.  Over 2 hours of video.

Vince Lombardi on Leadership

Innovative Football Resources:

Thanks to Coach Bill Mountjoy for passing this along…


“. . . Leaders are made, they are not born; and they are made just like anything else has been made in this country – by hard effort. And that’s the price we all have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.

“. . . And despite of what we say about being born equal, none of us really are born equal, but rather unequal. And yet the talented are no more responsible for their birthright than the underprivileged. And the measure of each should be what each does in a specific situation.

” . . . It is becoming increasingly difficult to be tolerant of a society who has sympathy only for the misfits, only for the maladjusted, only for the criminal, only for the loser. Have sympathy for them, help them, but I think it is also time for all of us to stand up for and to cheer for the doer, the achiever, one who recognizes a problem and does something about it, one who looks at something extra to do for his country, the winner, the leader!”


You Can Do More!

I sit and write this with great trepidation.  I don’t want to trivialize Nelson Mandela’s life, or his accomplishments.  His impact on our world extends far beyond the sports arena, but his life has been inexorably linked to athletics… not only in South Africa, but on the world stage as well.

mandelaNelson Mandela was an amateur boxer in his youth and often spoke about and used athletics to leverage his agenda.  His donning of the Sprinbok rugby jersey to the chants of “Nelson, Nelson, Nelson” by 65,000 white rugby fans is well documented in print (Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation) and film (Invictus).  One of Mandela’s last public appearances was at the 2010 World Cup final that was held in South Africa.

One of my favorite pieces regarding Nelson Mandela was Seth Godin’s recent post, A Legacy…

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Incrementalism…little things make a difference

During camp, our seniors make a short presentation to the team about any topic of their choice. The main idea is that they share something that will have a positive impact on the team. One of the most memorable for me over the last five years was by one of our defensive lineman. He hasn’t had the best of luck in his career. He’s had to battle back through a knee surgery at the beginning of last season and work hard to be able to play his senior year.

He shared a concept he learned in his internship this past summer. The concept is “incrementalism.” Incrementalism is making changes by degrees or in small steps. Addison, our senior tackle, pointed out to the team that finding just a small way to improve each moment will add up to big improvement over time. I’m sure that approach helped him in his recovery. It’s hard to see progress some times in those situations because the recovery seems so slow.

The same certainly applies on the field. We work to perfect our plays and techniques everyday, but perfection doesn’t come at once. It’s working those drills over and over focusing on getting the exact technique needed to be successful. The small improvements each day get us to where we want to be.

This idea popped back into my thoughts this past Friday at a high school game while I was talking with someone who runs a scouting service. He said that most high school teams really don’t get good until about week four. I can see some truth in that statement. It does take time to really get good at those schemes and concepts that were installed in August. The daily repetition and attention to detail really start to separate the good teams from the average or bad teams.

Incrementalism is the key to success. The teams that can stay focused and keep getting better at the little things within what they installed in camp will be the ones who compete for a championship. Those the get bored and try to find success through making big changes in scheme or constantly going back to the drawing board during the season are usually doomed to fail.

Ultimately, getting players to understand this concept will help them both on the field and in life.

Here are some quotes that relate to this idea:

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
― Desmond Tutu

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
― Mother Teresa

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
― Confucius

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”
― Abraham Lincoln

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
― Winston Churchill

Good luck this week. Keep moving forward!

Please check out my iBook 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays available on the iPad now and soon available on the Mac as well.


Defining Discipline


As coaches. the more we can define the different qualities we want to see in our players and our team, the better the chances of them  being able to adopt those characteristics and perform up to the expectations we set for them.  Many times we throw out terms that are intangibles.  We assume that they understand the intangible, but we take for granted that their definition may be different than ours.

It is pretty safe to assume that our players understand that discipline is something that leads to success.  What they view as discipline may vary.  Merriam-Webster defines it as

1.  training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
2.  orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior.
The dictionary definition, doesn’t exactly point to the specifics.  We need to be detailed in exactly what that pattern of behavior is.  Part of it is being detailed in what we want on the field whether that is their assignment or technique.  If we want to see something happen on the field, we must coach it.  I described a fun exercise we used for installing some of our sideline procedures and expectations and specific examples of the enthusiasm and engagement we want out of our players on game day here.  This would be and example of an orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior. Being specific in all aspects of what we want is a big part of instilling discipline.  Performance to an expectation cannot be expected if standards are not set.  Furthermore, the standards must be evaluated and both correct and incorrect behavior or performance need to be addressed (corrected, molded, and perfected).
In general though, I want my players to understand that my generic definition that they must apply to all of the different things they are expected to perfect is that discipline is intense listening and focused action.
Intense Listening
Whether it is in a classroom type of meeting, on the field instruction, or post practice meeting, players are expected to listen intensely.  In the classroom part of that falls on me as a teacher/coach to use methods that keep them engaged and on the edge of their seats.  For some detailed “on edge” coaching techniques, click here.  The other part is on them.  I expect them to have their eyes up or to be taking detailed notes.  They should ask questions if something isn’t clear. On the field, they should always be listening.  We talk to them about mental reps, but part of that is hearing the instruction and correction that the player performing the drill or rep is receiving.  It’s not time to talk or socialize when it’s not their turn.  If they fail in the same way as a previous player, they were not listening well enough.  The last is in post practice meetings.  As a coach I know they are tired at that point, so I make it a point to be concise and share only the most important observations of practice that I need them to understand so they are better the next time.  I also set the expectation that eyes are up and all other activity stops.  That means don’t be taking tape off or unsnapping or unbuckling pads. Intensely listen to the message.
Focused Action
Focused action  is doing exactly what you are supposed to do in the manner you are supposed to do it.  Again, as the coach I better be as detailed as possible in setting those performance guidelines.  I also need to constantly evaluate and correct.  Being specific in the language I use is important.  I should be able to say a word or phrase that I have taught the players which will cue them to exactly what the error was, and exactly what I want.  “Catch the ball” isn’t specific enough.  They know that.  “Eyes” helps them understand that the error was they moved their eyes too early or didn’t follow the ball in.
Intense listening and focused action will help a player be more cognizant of what they need to do to show discipline.  As I pointed out, as coaches we have a huge role in discipline as well.  It comes not from being a “drill sergeant”, but rather from being a great teacher.
I hope this perspective helps you help your players this season.
Pick up a great resource and reference for the 2013 season. 101 Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays for the iPad is loaded with video, diagrams, and ideas that are useful in any offense.  Get it here:

Levels of Commitment

Levels of team commitment

Levels of team commitment

The image above is another great tool and visual to help your team grasp the level of commitment needed for success.  Our tight ends coach, Pete Peterson shared this with us.  He was given this tool by a high school coach at Delaware Valley High School.  That coach adapted it from what he saw Al Golden present.

This is like the “Commitment Continuum” and “Leadership Ladder.”  It gives a visual representation to the players that the players can use as self evaluation, and it certainly is a great talking point with players on what the need to start doing to get themselves to the next level.

There are so many things that we do to build leadership and commitment in our programs.  I think the best ones are those that can help your players with tangible evidence based on their actions rather than by just what they say.  It’s easy for guys to act “rah-rah” but actions always speak louder than words. Action-based leadership is lasting and strong.

I included a Powerpoint file with this in case you would like to adapt it for use with your team.

Good luck in your preparations for the season!

Pick up a great resource and reference for the 2013 season. 101 Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays for the iPad is loaded with video, diagrams, and ideas that are useful in any offense. Get it here: