One of the things I strive for always is learning new and possibly better ways of doing things. Hopefully that has come through loud and clear in this blog. I’m not satisfied with any success I had 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago. Now, I don’t believe in change just to change, and I’ll rarely, if ever, change my thought process in the middle of a season – that just makes you look wishy-washy, in my opinion. Adjustments, yes of course…..heck, those come from week to week and from the first half to the second half, and sometimes each series. But from a technique standpoint or philosophical standpoint, things that your vision and identity for the season are based upon, then no.
That is one of the issues I have with the timing of most coaching clinics, is that for the women’s season, they are right when we’re starting practices and by that time you should be pretty set in what you’re doing. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a shameless plug, so here’s one: Our (Coach Mike Suggett & I) RS Football Camp is on the third weekend in November, and why myself, as an experienced clinician, is available from September to January to clinic your team, coaches or players. The new OL techniques that I’ve been teaching are starting to be noticed – by our defense. They might be worth checking out next offseason….just sayin’!
Anyway, the weekend of our mini-camp, I had the opportunity to talk with some players that have played in other organizations. I always ask them how things were done on their previous teams, how we compare, etc. I don’t do it just to stroke our own egos, and I appreciate when players are honest if there is something being done better somewhere else. Sometimes, if it is an OL that I’m talking to, if I like the idea I can implement it right away. But if the comments refer to another position or side of the ball, then I’ll just take mental notes about maybe what to do or not do in the future.
One thing that I heard a few times with the players I spoke to (and I’ve seen this in the past as well) is that individual position time is often sacrificed for team time. No offense to my “skinny position” coach friends out there, but if that is happening I’ll bet you that it is because the OC has a QB/WR/RB background. Fortunately, our OC, Carrie Suggett, recognizes the value of indy time and I rarely, if ever, need to remind her not to crowd it out. On the Bears, since I’m the OC, that isn’t a problem either.
There are pitfalls to having indy time, for sure. The main one is if your position coaches haven’t developed a comprehensive set of drills they can do to fill the time. Last week, I talked about my development of a drills spreadsheet that allows me to track what I’ve actually been doing in practice. If you missed it, I encourage you to check it out.
Recently, I’ve been made aware of where my next couple of road trips need to be…..one would be to head on over to Scottsdale AZ to visit LeCharles Bentley’s OL Performance World. His unique facility caters to a single demographic – offensive linemen. In terms of strength & conditioning for OL, along with technique review, I’m not sure that anyone on the planet does it better than him.
Next, some spring I’m going to need to make time to visit Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana. I want to go and see how John Strollo does things. Coach Strollo is speaking at the COOL Clinic this May, and since I’ll be buying the clinic DVD’s after it is over I’ll be very interested in what he has to say and what he’s doing.
I also want to give a shot out to a classy coach – Brent Myers, the Associate HC and OL coach of Weber State University. I’ve been acquainted with Coach for some time, ever since he was at Arizona State back in the early 2000’s. I adopted the skip pull technique after listening to him talk about it. At the time, he was about the only one doing it, and now it is really common. Anyway, I also remembered him talking about a low punch on pass pro that I never went to, but with my diving into the double under technique in the run game, I knew who I wanted to talk to about a question I had using it in pass pro. So I sent Coach an e-mail, and within 48 hours he responded in detail to my question, along with an invitation to call him if I needed any followup. That’s just the latest example of coaches who have helped me out, and why I try to do the same to guys starting out or guys that have questions. But the key is, you gotta ask!
Here’s the thing….if you’re not always on the lookout for finding the “best practices” available to you, you’ll never know about them. Coaches are among the most competitive people on earth – why put yourself at a disadvantage among your peers?