coach

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a Head Football Coach!

On March 15, 2018 I walked onto the campus of Freedom High School for my first official day as a Head Football Coach.  That was roughly 6 weeks before the writing of this article.  Both excited and nervous, I still felt I was prepared for the task at hand, as I still do.  As I am sure all of you Head Coaches out there know, as ready as you think you are, there are things that occur that nobody can tell you about.  Even as I write this article, it will be different for new Head Coaches in other places.  So here are 10 things nobody tells you about becoming Head Coach from my perspective.

  1. Hiring a Staff, is not simply hiring a staff
    1. The administration may tell you that you can hire coaches, but there is a lot more to it than that. The red tape is by no means the fault of the admin, but nonetheless it must be dealt with in order to get coaches on staff.  You have county vetting they need to pass.  There needs to be teaching spots that are open or verified as going to be open.  Your prospective staff must be hired as teachers first.  This will be a lot easier if you verify that your coaches are also good teachers.  Finding PE spots is a lot like snipe hunting these days, but find a coach that can teach math or science, and your gold!  My administration might be one of the best, as they have done everything to make sure I am going to able to hire coaches.
  2. The hold overs from the previous staff can be a huge asset
    1. A lot of times a new coach will come in and clean house, or in some cases the house will clean itself out. However, the hold overs from the previous staff that show interest in staying, should be given serious consideration.  They want to stay for a reason, most likely it is because they have a vested interest in the program and its success.  They have already put time, blood, sweat and tears into the kids and the school.  I currently have 2 hold overs from the previous staff.  They have both been tremendous assets.  They know the kids, in one case since these players were 6 years old.  They know the administration, they can tell you how they work and give insight into how to most effectively communicate with them.
  3. The things you say and do become Gospel
    1. As coaches we always try and show good character, honesty and integrity. I was still shocked at the speed of which things I established, said or incorporated got around.  Example: I enacted a weekly grade report program, I announced that this would be happening to the players during our first meeting.  Before I left campus, a dean walked up to me and told me how much he liked the idea of weekly grade checks.  Now if something positive can get around that quickly, imagine if you say or do something that can be seen in a bad light.  You better be sure you are a pillar of character and truth at all times.
  4. The life of your cell phone battery drops tremendously
    1. You will be inundated with phone calls, texts, and emails. Once you put on that whistle you become the contact point for teachers, parents, community members, deans, administration, school staff members, former players, college recruiters, and the list goes on.  Always have an answer for those that contact you, or at the least tell them you will have an answer for them as soon as possible.
  5. You may feel like a politician
    1. Reference 3 and 4. You are now held to a whole new level of accountability.  Everything you do will be scrutinized.  Stand tall and always do what you can to have an answer for people.  You now have to manage a staff, players, and even faculty and admin at times.  The days of saying “that’s a question for the head coach” are gone.  Now, you are the man with all the answers.
  6. Your family becomes more involved than ever before
    1. Family support is always a part of being a coach. As Head Coach however; the amount of support asked of them is immeasurable.  They will be at practices, they will wait up at night, so they can see you.  If your kids are young they will be in your coaches meetings just because they want that extra time with dad.  Becoming Head Coach will be huge adjustment for them.  Take that into consideration as they persevere through a unique transition period.  make sure you create time to spend with them whenever you can, time is something you can never get back and never forget your wife, I wouldn’t be where I am with mine, and I’m sure it is the same for most of us.
  7. Your significant other becomes an nonsalaried secretary
    1. In my short time as Head Coach, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my wife to take care of a task for me. Can you print this? Can you check on this? Can you call this person back for me while I do this? Do we have a file for this? What is on the agenda this week.  And this goes back to family support. Is it possible to do this job with out the support of family? Perhaps… but I know I never want to find out.  Maybe my situation is unique. All I know is this, without Karly, my life and job get a whole lot more difficult.  I will always try my best to show appreciation and do the same for her.
  8. The players will buy in immediately
    1. Your new players will be eager and ready to work. I was half expecting some stand off or resistance to the me, the new guy coming in. I could not have been more wrong.  They all immediately began to work hard.  From weight room to classroom to field, they have all been improving.  Maybe my message resonated with them, maybe I did a good job reaching them and motivating, or maybe it’s something simpler. Kids are kids.  They want to do good, they want to feel wanted and they want to play football!  If you come in and show that you care about them, and that you want them to be successful, then they will buy in!
  9. You become an administrator
    1. You will be handling much of the same things that administrators handle on a daily basis. You will: check grades, handle behavior issues, correspond with parents, track inventory, set budgets, track eligibility, develop schedules, maintain facilities, and become an authority figure for the all students in the school.
  10. You have eyes and ears everywhere
    1. I recommend everyone do this! I have developed a network of spies to help me keep tabs on the players.  A lot of the time if a player is doing something, I know about it before he is finished doing it.  This isn’t always bad, the good things the players do get reported too, so they can be acknowledge and rewarded!  Step one: get access to a walkie-talkie from the administration.  This gives you immediate communication and Intel in live time across the campus.  Step two: enlist the help of the front office personnel.  I now know every single time a player is late to school.  Step three: send out a faculty wide email list of your current players on the roster so teachers can report to you as well.  Step four: enlist the janitorial staff.  They are the unsung heroes of the school, and they see absolutely everything that goes on with the students, staff, faculty and admin.

CLOSING

Hopefully this gives you some insight into some things that happen when you become a Head Football Coach.  I wouldn’t say any of the items on the list are a negative thing.  Just things to be aware of, utilize and make sure you don’t take for granted. Id like to say a special thank you to Karly Marie Vogt.  I can’t imagine life without you or where I’d be.  I know my time and focus seems to always be on football, but I promise you, that you and our children are always in my heart!

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“Coach, They Know Nothing”

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.

“Chicken Wings”

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.

“Mr. Freeze”

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”.

“The Goose”

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.

Closing

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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