Football is a game full of cliches. Coaches love to use them to keep a team focused or to quell the probing minds of the community. A cliche can be comforting to hear because there is always some truth behind it. That’s how statements become cliche.
One such example is “a win is never as good as it seems and a loss is never as bad”. This has been used uncountable times by coaches, players, fans, and the whole football community regarding a team’s recent performance. Especially after a loss.
It is meant to manage expectations. This team isn’t as good or bad as you think right now, just let us work on what we do well and what we need to fix. Each team always has room for improvement, especially early in the season, and when you only have two to three games prior to beginning your district contests, the team still has a lot of coming together to do.
Where do you start identifying where your team needs help?
One of the best ways to find the mistakes is to watch your game film as a staff. It is so easy to separate into our positions and find the errors, but then you’re not getting input from the coordinator and head coach. This is a great opportunity for the position coaches to learn what the coordinator expects each position to do for the plays and scheme to function. It is also important for the head coach to share his thoughts and express his concerns.
With many coaches watching the film together, it is incredibly important to be open to constructive criticism. The evidence provided on film may reveal that how a play or skill is being taught may need to be changed. It’s not personal, it is for the betterment of the team.
What do you do about the good things your team is doing?
Keep doing them! In fact, do them even more! Some of the struggles your team may be experiencing is because you aren’t using what they are good at performing enough. Perhaps you’ve been an explosive passing team for the past few seasons, but this year’s team may be better suited to be a run oriented offense. There are many analytical tools you can use to break down your film and put the truth of the stats right in front of you.
Focusing on what your team does well allows them to be successful, all while working on where you need to improve. Eventually their confidence and performance will rise and they will be ready to add to their repertoire of skills and plays.
How long do you keep going about fixing your team this way?
In truth, as long as it takes. To use another cliche, patience is a virtue. Some aspects you will see immediate improvement, while others take time. Your team may not perform at the level you expect them to until much later in the season. Or you may have found something that the team naturally adapts to and experiences immediate success.
A season does have a finite beginning and end, so you don’t have an unlimited amount of time. That’s why you have to prioritize what you work on in practice in order for your team to be successful. The longer your team is able to play, the more time you get to practice. The dividends will pay off in immediate performance and long term as the younger players gain more experience.