Who Are We? Creating a Championship Mindset Pt II
Names have been changed in order to protect individuals.
Equally fundamental is the fact that as coaches we have to exemplify a champion with our OWN behavior, in everything that we do. We have to acknowledge that our own conduct is central to the creation of a championship mindset and that the quality of this conduct rests almost entirely in how we interact with our players. This is one of those situations that calls for an anecdote. In the summer of 2010 I attended New England Elite clinic as the offensive/defensive line coach for my high school team. The heat index was 106 and the lineman drill sessions had been relegated to the university’s softball field which was a half mile walk up a staunch hill through the woods from the athletic complex. There I had the pleasure of watching Coach Smith, the line coach for ******* University. The man is a tremendous line coach, extremely knowledgeable, but what stood out the most about him was his demeanor when he ran his drills, the culture that surrounded him as a result of this, and how he communicated with his players. As we walked the daily death march back to the athletic complex I made sure to “chat Smitty up” and our conversation rested around making sure to treat players with dignity and respect. We both agree that a coach does not need to be mean in order to command respect or unleash explosive athletic ability within his players. In fact, this approach to coaching is often counter-intuitive to a championship mentality. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get fired up, frustrated, angry, or intense – football is an emotional game. Smitty put it best. “I explain to my kids that they have to understand the difference between ‘what the f***’ and ‘YOU SUCK’. I tell them that If I say ‘aw what the f***’ they have to understand that my frustration is attached to football, that we’ve planned or repped something up that they didn’t execute and that bothers me because I know they can do better. If I say ‘ YOU SUCK’, they have every right to walk into my office that day, drop their pads on my desk and tell me that they’re done, people don’t deserve to be treated that way.”
“I’m with that coach,” I replied, “now I just gotta stop swearing.”
“Me too” Smitty laughed. “It’s bad sometimes.”
In this conclusion rests the most basic principle of being a good coach. It is earth-shattering, yet obvious. Evident and yet forgotten in many high school programs across the country. Are you ready?
If you are personally demeaning to your players in your method of interaction with them, three things will happen, and these three things are pretty fundamentally destructive to a football program.
1.) Your players will not respect you
2.) Your players will be tentative and perform poorly as a result
3.) You will lose…in games and in life.
Coach Q, a.k.a Yann Kumin, is President of Operations for the Boston Institute of Football and Assistant Head Coach for the D1 Malden Catholic Lancers.