And How to Correct Them to Help Your Football Team
Yep, I said it. These statements are idiotic. Not that you’re an idiot if you’ve said them at some point, I know I have from time to time, but there is most definitely a clearer way to get the point across to the players. Usually that way tells the player the solution too, where as these do not.
1) “Block Somebody!”
The most dreaded statement every offensive line coach could hear. I’ve heard defensive coaches say this before and I want to litterally kick them in the face. Block who? How do you know the back didn’t go the wrong way or the QB didn’t boot the wrong way (this happened, everyone went one way, the QB went the opposite, and the OL still got boo’d. Couldn’t be anymore obvious who was in the wrong too!).
Saying “block somebody” doesn’t tell the kids anything. It frustrates and confuses them. Thoughts could include, “Block who?” or “Well, they must be talking about him b/c I blocked somebody”. Here’s the problem, the guy who was wrong probably did block somebody, the wrong person, or he used bad technique. Instead, when the kid is on the sidelines, tell him details. For instance, if the center didn’t block back on Power, you could say, “You’ve got to block down, not out b/c the guard is pulling. You’re also standing up, you need more bend in your legs.”
Instead of simply yelling because you’re frustrated, use your eyes and know the scheme. If you can’t or don’t have the ability to do both of those statements, please shut up.
2) “We gotta tackle!”
Really? I didn’t know that about this game of football. This statement is weak because you’re stating the obvious and you’ve failed to communicate the how or why.
Instead of “We gotta tackle”, tell the kids what they’re doing wrong and how to correct it. Is the opponent running through the tackles? We probably got to get the head across the player and keep our feet moving. We could also probably use better pursuit by everyone.
3) “Do your job!”
I don’t know why this one has exploded recently, but I keep hearing it over and over again. It drives me nuts! First of all, what the hell do you mean and who the heck are you talking to? If the kid keeps failing at a task, he probably doesn’t know what his job is and you’ve coached it poorly.
Explain the scheme again to the kid. Tell them the technique involved. That is a much better solution.
4) “Don’t quit running!”
I’ve said this. A lot. It then occured to me that the kid quit running for one big reason. He didn’t feel he had the ability to catch the ball (some of us call this laziness, I call it lack of confidence). You need to make him want to get after that ball and prove to him that he can in practice. A lot of kids don’t know that they get faster when they’re focused on a singular target, like what they’re doing when they’re trying to make an over the shoulder catch.
By building confidence in the player that he can catch up to the ball and take the hit after he catches it, you’re helping that kid not only be a better football player, but you’re helping him later on in life when a goal seems just out of reach.
5)”Be an athlete!”
What? Obviously the kid is an athlete. This tells the kid nothing besides to maybe run around in circles. If the kid is an athletic player who got tackled by a lesser athlete, tell him how he messed up. Did he read the play poorly? Did he stop his feet? Did he throw the football when he should have run it?
How did the player fail and what can you do to correct it? Find the answer to this. Even when it is an athleticism problem, the answer to one or both of those questions is probably why he wasn’t “enough” of an athlete. That is a lot more beneficial for everyone involved.
I’ve made a lot of these statements at some point, and I want to stick my foot in my mouth when I do. It simply doesn’t help anyone, including yourself. Instead of these statements, you need to ask yourself questions first. Who made the mistake? Why/how did he make that mistake? What does the player need to know or do in order to fix that mistake? A lot of times, you need to check the understanding of one of your players. I’ve found that technical mistakes happen because a player is confused on the scheme a lot of time. I think a kid doesn’t play as hard because they don’t have confidence in themselves, their teammates, or confidence in whether or not they are executing the scheme correctly.
A lot of times, these problems arrive because we failed as coaches somewhere in the process. Making one of these statements, and statements like them, only hurt the player and the coach even more.