Ever hear coaches talk about keeping their players focused? Sure you have, it’s one of our standard lines. But it’s not just a cliche or an empty saying. You really do have to keep your team focused on what’s important. They need to focus on their next opponent, their game responsibilities, their position responsibilities, their studies…etc. But what are the best methods? Well, here are a few tips you may find helpful.
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- Keep your next opponent’s name in front of your players. We used to begin each one of our agility drills by shouting our next opponent’s name. If our next opponent was Central High School, that’s what our kids shouted. For example, as the kids got ready for high knees, coach would say, “Ready!” Go!” The players would then shout, “CENTRAL!” as they started high knees. That would continue with carioca, back pedals, etc. CENTRAL, CENTRAL, CENTRAL was all they heard all week. We wanted that team and that team only on their minds.
- Don’t talk about your opponent’s record. Don’t talk about how good or bad they are. Just focus on what they do in all phases of the game. Avoid saying things like, “Well…I know they’re not very good but we can’t look past ’em.” All the kids just heard was “they’re not very good”. That’s a recipe for disaster. Prepare for each opponent the same way whether they are 8-0 or 0-8. THIS IS WHAT THEY DO! THIS IS WHAT WE WILL DO! It doesn’t matter how good or bad they are. Emphasize how we will attack them – period!
- The coaching staff should only discuss the next opponent to the players. A big mistake would be to say, ” Hey, you guys had better get this right, remember, we have East High in three weeks”. No way. Certainly don’t discuss how wrestling season or basketball season will go this winter. (listen to the sneak peek podcast)
- The players should be talking only about the next opponent. Listen to your guys, what are they saying? Guard against talk of other teams. Focus on them later.
- Don’t mention the word “PLAYOFFS”. Until, of course, the playoffs actually begin. This may sound crazy but our head coach, who was a master of staying focused, was obsessed with this rule. If any coach or player ever muttered the word playoffs during the regular season he would rip us. Remember when Jim Mora of the Colts when asked by a reporter during mid season about the playoffs said, “Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?” Well, it was much worse than that. I thought it was extreme but he was a heckuva coach.
These are just a few of the many ways to keep your guys focused on each game. Are they extreme? Maybe…but they worked for us!
Coach L. Albaugh DBLITY
Coach Albaugh coached high school football in Illinois for 28 years. During that time he coached at every level and on both sides of the ball. He was the offensive and defensive line coach for four undefeated teams and was a defensive coordinator in his last 11 years, twice reaching the semi finals of the Illinois state playoffs.