Coach's Corner: Dave Svoboda 11/11
By Dave Svoboda Basehor-Linwood Assistant Head Coach
For many teams in the metro, the 2010 season — on the field, anyway — has come to an end. Other squads are still alive in the playoffs, hoping to continue their season deeper into November.
And the 2011 season is already here…or it should be, anyway.
No, all of the planning and behind-the-scenes work can’t guarantee a league title, a playoff run, or a championship in 2011.
But those failing to start their 2011 preparations while 2010 is fresh in their minds are missing out on a great opportunity.
Here are a few ideas of what you might do now that can help make your 2011 season a bit better — on the field and off.
1. Equipment check in and inventory — If you’ve coached football over the last three years, you’ve no doubt heard a ton about both MRSA and concussions. If your school budget allows for it (and you’ll want to “find a way” for the budget to allow), have your shoulder pads and helmets treated for MRSA, and your helmets and shoulder pads reconditioned. Then, make sure you have no helmet on your helmet rack any more than five years old. Then, as the kids check in, immediately do inventory. Don’t wait. Be proactive. If your administrators know in December what you might need for 2011 (likely in the fiscal year 2011-12 budget, which begins in most places in July of 2011), you’ll be hailed for your responsibility.
2. Exit meetings with all players, coaches — Don’t let a chance to really gain invaluable information slip away with time. Meet with all of your players — including those about to depart — before the month of November ends. Get their candid views of what your program can do to improve, and share with the players your frank opinions of what it will take for them to contribute in the most meaningful way in 2011. And do the same with your coaches. The give and take you’ll undergo here might be the best time you can spend prior to next May.
3. Work with this year’s juniors to prep them for the challenges of their senior year — leadership, recruiting, etc. — After the final gun of the final game (regular season or postseason), your current juniors (class of 2012) become your seniors….whether they want this responsibility or not. Work with them to assume the leadership mantle, to prepare for the recruiting process (which may be ongoing for some of them), and to provide the kind of spark that might have been missing this season.
4. 2011 “Launch” meeting with all returning, prospective players — Before Christmas break, hold a 2011 “Launch” meeting with all of those who may want to be part of your program in 2011. This is your chance to “recruit” that young man who has been in your hallways all year, looking like a player…and yet avoiding you because he may not yet know how much football can help him grow as a young person. Most great programs corral at least one of these kids each off-season, and they can often be the difference between depth and lack-thereof.
5. Off-season conditioning plans — Work together with your school’s strength and conditioning coach (unless you are pulling double duty) to make sure all of your athletes are a.) involved in a winter and/or spring sport; b.) are enrolled in a strength and conditioning course; c.) are doing offseason work in strength and conditioning. Most schools have programs in place….utilize them. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
6. Scheduling attendance of coaching staff at clinics — Seek out involvement from those members of your staff who can attend coaching clinics. Get them into those clinics — at least one or two an offseason. Check with area schools about their policy for attending bowl practices. Get around the area to see how college programs are doing things, and bring these ideas back to your schools.
7. Preliminary work on summer camp, 7-on-7 — Finally, it’s never too early to being planning NOW for your school’s summer camp, a camp “on the road” at a local college/university, and a 7-on-7 league. With so many sports programs now “requiring” of their athletes a year-round commitment, it’s best to get all of these events on the calendar before the start of the new year. Trust me, families who plan well in advance will be appreciative, and you’ll avoid some major headaches when Johnny is at your camp rather than on vacation.
None of us as football coaches ever “reinvents the wheel.” Instead, we rely upon each other to beg, borrow and steal most of the good things that make our programs whole. Use a little common sense now, and the 2011 season will be off to a great start before you even hit the field in the new year.
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