What’s great about coaching and in particular football coaching? Well, have you got a couple of hours or days? There are so many reasons why we love what we do. For me, in the beginning, it was a way to stay involved in a game that I loved. But then, as time went on I discovered other fun and rewarding components of coaching. One that I had never thought of was player development. Yeah, watching a kid develop physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Helping a player get bigger, faster, and stronger so that he can better match up with his opponents. When having the privilege of watching a young man out on the field doing what you helped to attain, man, that’s fulfilling.
There are many factors that make up a good football player. Think of speed, strength, explosive power, quickness, agility, heart, desire, mental toughness, endurance, moxey, and more. Some players are born with the natural ability to play football while others have to work harder to develop the necessary skills to be a good football player. Regardless of the level of natural talent, you CAN help your players become better players. Admittedly, a player with little or no natural ability probably can’t become a great player, but he can improve and reach his potential. He can become a good player within his role. That’s the great thing about football, there are many positions and not all require a high level of athletic ability. A below average to average athlete can improve his skills to the point he can become a valuable contributor to the team. With hard work and dedication all players can improve and be the best they can be. That is the goal of the coach in player development; to make each player the best that he can be. For the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about this and share some fun stories too.
Testing, Evaluating, and Goal Setting
The way most of us see it, it’s the coaches job to help each athlete to lay out a plan, provide guidance, encourage, motivate, and correct. Where to start? I have fun testing athletes and believe it’s a good starting place when they come in as freshmen. Every player development program should begin with testing and evaluating each player’s strengths and weaknesses. By learning their strengths and weaknesses it’s much easier to attain maximum results. Once each player has been tested and evaluated, you can set goals to give your development and conditioning program direction. By testing and recording the results you will have concrete results that the athlete is improving and where weaknesses are. The results can also indicate who needs to work harder and provide the needed motivation to do so.
Now, without getting to complicated and scientific, your tests should be valid, reliable, and objective. Research has found that the following tests have a high correlation with a player’s ability to play football (Arthur & Bailey, 1998) and I guess that’s why most of us use them. They are:
10 yard dash – to test acceleration
40 yard dash – to test speed and acceleration
Pro Agility Run - to test agility
Vertical jump or standing long jump – to test explosive power
Here are some other test areas that are popular and applicable:
Bench press – to test upper body strength Cleans – to test explosive strength Squat – to test hip and leg strength V- Sit and reach – to test flexibility Height, weight, waist measurement – to test body composition 300 yard shuttle – to test endurance.
Of course, every coach can feel free to test those areas that he deems important. If you feel strongly about an area, test it. The above are simply suggestions and are the most common. Personally, I liked testing the 40, bench, vertical or standing long jump, and pro-agility. But by all means be consistent in your testing. Use the same order in the same environment as much as possible on every athlete or the test results will not be reliable.
How often should we test? Heck, that’s up to each coach but I would think the minimum might be twice a year. Test in the late summer or fall when practice first begins then at the end of the school year when school is letting out for the summer. A good third time for testing would be mid winter. Hopefully we’re seeing good, steady progress.
Alright, we’ve got them tested, shared the results, and now we’re practicing football and playing the fall schedule. Development starts now with position and skill development, agility drills, conditioning, and weight training. Along the way, maybe we can win some freshman football games. That certainly helps develop confidence.
Next week we’ll continue with this theme and I’ll also relay one of my favorite stories.
Hey, tell me what you think on Twitter. @TheChiefpigskin.
Coach L. Albaugh – DBLITY
Speaking of developing players… the staff at Dallas HS, OR is doing an incredible job building great football players. Coach Andy Jackson left the room buzzing after his presentation on Developing An Elite Defense at Practice during the 3-5-3 Clinic 2017. “I’m 100% confident that my team will play better defense next year simply because I saw this presentation.” – Head Coach Nate Albaugh | Champaign Central, IL
Developing An Elite Defense at Practice
This presentation is the game changer among a great video series. It is clear to see that this is where Coach Jackson’s passion lies and they have truly made a difference in their defense simply from their practice style and philosophies. Find out why practice is so important and how they use every minute to truly train their young athletes to play the game at a high level. Learn how they drill pursuit, leverage, tackling, and fundamentals. This video includes drill footage. “I am leaving here humbled at how Coach Jackson and his staff are out coaching us.” Nate Albaugh.