Updated: Jul 11, 2021
Kobe Bryant is among my favorite athletes of all time, others on the list include Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, John McEnroe, Pat Summitt to name a few. This list is not based on athletic skill or even championships. I admire these people for their relentless drive to WIN! My wife and I named our son Kobe in hopes that he would also be relentless about winning. None of these people were ever looking to establish a comfortable environment or just "work on stuff". They were about winning!
As we roll into July, we are about 2/3's of the way through the competitive work against other schools that we get to participate in with our football players in Oklahoma. We had 10 days of practice during May, a 2 day team camp with other schools in late May, and a 7 on 7 passing tournament in June. We still have one 7 on 7 passing tournament left in the month of July.
I love the approach our Head Coach (Tucker Barnard) as well as the coaches on our staff take in these situations. To be frank, I listen to many other coaches talk about the "objectives" they want to accomplish during May, June, and July and know I could never work in many of those environments. I'm certainly not saying we have everything figured out because we clearly don't. What I am saying is that we can clearly articulate our top priority..."Create expectations of WINNING!" Our players know that we expect them to compete to win in every individual rep, every team rep, and certainly in any competitive situation against another school. I want to lay out our thought process for planning purposes when we approach each of our different segments (spring practice, team camp, 7 on 7 tournaments).
First, Spring Practice. Both O and D prepare an installation schedule that is followed daily. We will expect our players to continue to learn new schemes and skills for at least the first 5 days. We then expect performance to sharpen over the last 5 days. We also script ALL situations in practice by down/distance, hash, field zone (including red zone), clock, score, etc. We practice our #1 Offense against our #1 Defense. We practice our 2's against the 2's and 3's against 3's. We expect to get 3 reps per minute and we do NOT ever walk-thru or do over in these segments. Our players know that we are going to go fast and get reps! We do not script O or D based on what the other side wants...we script by what we would do in the given situation and both sides expect to dominate. Both sides will change calls at the line if necessary. Tricks by the O and pressures by the D are standard daily stuff because that is what we do to win games! The D better always be prepared to adjust multiple formations, hard counts, tricks, and up-tempo. The O better always be prepared for 7 man pressures, formation based blitzes including 3rd level blitzes, disguised coverages, and a different front look every play. We organize and meet on our defensive sideline between series just like on Friday nights.
Next, Team Camp. We go to win EVERY play. Of course that does not happen but our kids know that is the expectation. We spend time with our players prior to camp giving them a brief scouting report on each team we will face. We create a plan for each school and make sure our players have a fundamental understanding of formation pressures, primary run scheme and pass protection, key players, and whether they have RPO or option schemes. Then we call plays just like we would on Friday night. We blitz! If we see that you are not prepared for it or have a player or two who can't block us we blitz more! We are literally trying to make every play for zero yards or less! We are trying to win! We are not at a team camp to "work on our stuff." We are there to WIN and our kids know it! Of course we do not always win and then we get an awesome opportunity to help kids handle losing. We don't dismiss it as "just team camp." We lost. Why? What can we learn? What did I learn as the coach? I always get better as a play caller at camp and our kids get better at doing what we have to do to win!
Last, 7 on 7. We love it and it is REAL football in July because it is the only football we get to play! I love to hear teams that are getting the brakes beat off of them at a 7 on 7 tournament chirping about what they would do if this was a game of "REAL" football. I hear defensive coaches fuss about 4 seconds to throw, we don't get to rush, they get to run 5 man routes every play,etc. I was that guy for a minute, but then the competitor in me took over. If we are playing, we are playing to win! I am going to use this opportunity to continue to teach our kids about situations and WINNING! Here is how I choose to view 7 on 7 now:
The defense has the advantage because we know they have to throw it!
They are actually only playing with 5 because the center and QB are no threat.
No screens, scramble, draw, hard count, etc.
Can't run the ball in short yardage situation.
Here are the things we get to work on in 7 on 7 that spring practice and team camp might not have given us that we will need to work before our first game in the fall:
Pre-snap clues of QB's (Nuances of the game)
Playing pass with different wind situations
2 point plays
Every play is critical
Bunch sets, quads, motions
Deep Balls and Late Throws (4 Second Rule makes HS DB's learn to play past a 3 count)
Intersecting routes on a short field
Playing when fatigued
WINNING! Every game has a winner and a loser!
We go to a 7 on 7 tournament with one objective. Come back Champs! We rarely do that but our players know that we are always going to compete in everything to win. We place a premium on preparation and emphasize to our players that there is no winning without preparation.
Our jobs as coaches is to give our players the right opportunity to prepare and to model our expectations of competing to win! No flip flops, cutting up, or excuse making as coaches if we are going to expect our players to attack everything with game-like intensity! I am proud that the group of guys I get a chance to work with would expect to beat Tom Brady and the Bucs if they showed up on a Friday night, a 7 on 7 tourney, or even team camp.
I love this quote to put a bow on this topic:
"If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."