We have all been guilty of it. Myself more than I would like to admit. We assume our players know things just because they are playing high school football. As coaches we must treat every player like they’ve never played before when they come into our programs, sometimes we must do that with players who have been there for four years. I’m going to tell a couple of funny stories here; but it is not to laugh at the players. These stories happened because I failed to communicate exactly what I wanted, and I failed to understand exactly what they knew.
It was storming in Florida, go figure. Due to the lightning we took the team into the school’s cafeteria. Naturally space was limited, and we could not do anything live due to being indoors. We decided as a staff to just have the Defense align to formations and walk through run fits and stunts. I was running the scout offense, showing play cards so they could see formations and just get lined up for defense. A young player, a transfer for us was on the scout team as one of the skill kids. After I showed the card he just kind of stood there and looked back me. I said, “Hey man, go line up in a wing to the right.” He still kind of just looks at me, I can see the confusion in his eyes and already feeling impatient for being rained off the field, I raised my voice and said in my stern coach voice, “GET LINED UP IN DANG WING LIKE I TOLD YOU! TO THE RIGHT!” the player then quickly trots just to the right of the quarterback who is under center, gets in a half squat and puts both hands in his armpits to make his arms little wings! Funny now, but probably embarrassing for the player. He had come from a spread team, played one year of freshman ball and had never heard the term before. He had no clue, that was entirely my fault.
This one happened in a game. It was late in the 4th quarter in a preseason game and we were beating the other team badly. Head Coach decided to call off the dogs and put in some young guys to get reps. I send in my freshman tailback, first play he rolls forward before the snap taking a step, false start penalty, he does the same thing on the next try. Time out gets called. I tell him “you cant move, just stand there, do not roll forward again or your coming out”. Well the players go back to the field and you can probably guess what happens next. The ball is snapped, the fullback is going down field and there’s my young tailback, just standing there not moving. This is again, not the players fault. I assumed he knew that I was referring to during the cadence only. I should have said clearly “until the ball is snapped”. I guarantee in his head he was thinking “I’m doing exactly what coach told me”.
This was a JV game when I was a young coach. I was the Head Coach and defensive coordinator for the JV team. We were on the 11-yard line. It was 4th and maybe an inch, barely missed the chain post on the measure. I call time out and we are going to go for it. I just told the offense to run a sneak, and as the QB was heading out to line up I grabbed him and said to him “Hey just go up there and goose the center so you can catch them off guard”. He nods adamantly, and sprints back out to the offense who is already lined up. Nothing is happening, the offense is just lined up and doing nothing. It looks like the QB is saying something, but I can’t hear him. I start yelling from the sideline as do the other coaches. The refs finally blow it dead and we have a delay of game penalty. When the QB comes over I ask him what happened. And he replied with “COACH! COACH! I yelled GOOSE like 10 times and nobody did anything!” This is very funny to me now, but again, not the players fault in the slightest. That’s entirely on me and my assumptions.
As coaches, we must be sure we are clear and communicate exactly what we want and expect from our players. They are not going to know what a 3tech is just because they play high school football. They aren’t going to know what bender route is just because they play high school football. These things need to be taught to them. As coaches, we are also teachers. To assume that players know things without checking for understanding, is to set them up for failure, and that is not why we do what we do. To quote one of the Head Coaches I have worked for “Coach, they know nothing. Teach them everything as if they have never played before.”
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