|2/22/2012 9:10:16 AM -
Two Ears, One Mouth
When I first started coaching, I had a pretty hard time figuring out what to do. I knew how to coach in terms of working with positional drills and telling guys what to do within a very limited scope (just their position), but I had no idea what was going on anywhere else. I'd be up in the box during games with a headset on, and I'd sit there with no idea how the other coordinators (a couple of whom didn't even play in college) were seeing the shit they were seeing. I talked to a friend of mine who'd been a head coach for a while, and he gave me the first good piece of advice I got:
"Learn how to pan out and see the whole field at the same time. It's a skill you have to practice."
The second piece of advice came from my high school coach, who told me the best thing I could do in football and life is to "Keep your f-ing mouth shut."
Now, I'm a huge advocate of communicating on the field. I think guys constantly have to be talking, even more than we teach them about calling shit out before plays. Honestly, I think two or three guys on the field, both on offense and defense, should be providing essentially a running commentary of what's going on during a play. And obviously coaches have to talk, because they have to teach.
But honestly? That's ALL the talking I do anymore. I don't bother with anything else. This is a new approach for me, because I've always been kind of a loudmouth with the kids, probably because I've never transitioned out of still thinking I'm one of them. Your mouth can get you into serious trouble, though. Mine has over the years. So now? When I'm coaching, I'm still teaching, but I keep my f-ing mouth shut for all the superfluous shit. Same thing at work. And I think this is good, because the kids -- and everyone else -- never have any idea what I'm thinking, so they'll work that much harder to get my attention.
Picture Fedor Emelianenko before a fight, at least back when he was the best. You KNEW the guy was going to do some damage, but you never knew if he was pissed, fired up, nervous, or whatever, because the guy showed you nothing. It was unsettling. He definitely knew something you didn't. Whether this is true or not doesn't even matter. He made you think it was true. That's the effect I'm going for this year with the kids, and it seems to be working so far. For the ones who know me, it's a huge change in my demeanor, and it's having an effect. For the ones who don't know me, they think I'm f-ing insane, which is also good.
Either way, I'm getting a lot more done, I'm noticing a lot more because I'm not constantly in the middle of making up the next smartass comment, and the intensity is noticeably higher. If your kids aren't responding to you the way you want them to, give this approach a shot.