Playing and competing at a high level can be tricky on the adult level. In the professional ranks or collegiately, lines are clear: you are there to win. Everyone is on the same page. Winning, through every legal means possible, is the goal. If you’re not on board with that, there’s the door. I don’t think there is any question about that in any NFL or NCAA player’s mind.
At the adult level (semi-pro men’s, pro women’s), in my coaches’ mind, there is no difference. We (the San Diego Surge) play for a national championship – that is our goal. On the men’s level, my So Cal Bears aim to go as far as we can. It isn’t quite as cut and dried as at the women’s level, as politics often get in the way, but the ultimate goal for the Bears is to go 15 or 16 and 0.
In order to consistently play at that high of a level, it takes true competitors and team players to make it. There is no other way, no other way to be. True competitors understand that on a 40 person team, there are only 22 starting slots (11 more if you want to add in ST). They understand that this isn’t youth or recreational ball. They understand that competition in the most basic form, necessarily means that not everyone “wins” a starting spot, or as much playing time as they may like. “Winning” for some players means that they have a role to play on the team, and when their time is called they need to perform to the very best of their ability. Their contributions are no less than those of starters. Football isn’t basketball, where one player can often dominate a game all by themselves. Each and every player on a football team is important to the overall success of that team.
There are teams out there (both male and female) that do treat this as a version of rec ball, whether they want to admit it or not. Unfortunately for those teams, sometimes teams that take things a bit more seriously appear on the schedule. We all wish it wasn’t that way. No one enjoys those types of games.
There are other teams who are out there truly trying to better themselves – two women’s teams come immediately to mind: the Pacific Warriors and the Central Cal War Angels. The Warriors, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, are considerably better than they’ve been in the past. Huge upgrades on overall athleticism. The War Angels slowly built themselves up year after year. In 2013, they beat us pretty well in the playoffs. We managed to return the favor last year, and now we’re looking at the beginnings of a true rivalry. From what I’ve seen on film so far, they’ve added some definite athletes on defense. The two games against them should be great ones.
And that, my friends, is my point….competition, whether it is internal, striving for a starting role, or external against another team, helps mold and define character. It is a good thing.
Coaches, if your center cannot shotgun snap with any reasonable consistency, why do you make her do it? As I said last week, if you’re developing an offense based around certain assumptions, and those assumptions prove to be invalid, you need to change! I just watched a future opponent have 4 out of 10 snaps go completely over the QB’s head, and the ones that didn’t had longer hang times then their punts. There can be no development when a key piece of a play (the snap) starts badly. Please put your QB under center, and just block down like you would for a FG. Have everything timed off a three step plant and throw. Your QB is athletic, so give her a chance! You can coach up the rest of your OL in the offseason, but for now, give yourselves a chance. Eliminating the self-inflicted negative plays would be huge.
Some of you may know that almost all big-time colleges across the country host summer camps for high school football players. These have evolved into highly competitive affairs, with many of the top players from around the country attending the bigger ones (Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, USC, etc.). The latest twist to this comes from Jim Harbaugh, Michigan’s new coach. He has invited a maximum of two coaches from every college in the country to attend and coach at the Michigan camp. Now, some people have dismissed this as trolling, and it may well be only that. But I don’t think so….and the reason I bring it up here is that that is exactly what we want to do with our RS Football Camp in November. Yes, we (Surge Head Coach Mike Suggett and I) host it, but at our first one last year we had coaches (besides ours) from Utah, Texas and an outside kicking coach attend and teach.
We want diversity of thought, we want the players to compete against each other, even if it is someone doing a drill better than someone else. We want the coaches to engage in earnest discussions about best practices. That type of thing is what will make everyone better. So yeah, if you think you’re a solid coach, we’d love you to come out to San Diego this November. Drop me a line. We’re trying to do what Jim Harbaugh is doing – maybe we’re more sincere about it though!
Speaking of the Harbaugh family, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh wrote an article last week titled, “Why Football Matters”. The link is here. You should read it. Yes, you.
Shifting over to the men’s game……The past two Thursday nights I had the chance to start installing my “new, rebuilt from the ground up” offense with the Bears in the form of two chalk talks. I wanted to get a little bit of a head start on practices which begin May 21. We’ll only get 9 practices before our first game. The normal schedule that I’ve gotten used to is 16 practices, but hey, gotta play the hand you’re dealt.
Anyway, coming out of those talks I’m highly encouraged. When I first presented it to two of my players, the comments were “never gonna work because the guys won’t put in the effort to learn it” and “it is a NASA offense”. So I spent a lot of time thinking about how to communicate the concepts and terminology to the group as a whole, and I think it paid off: I saw an awful lot of guys nodding their heads in agreement as they “got it”. I even heard a couple of comments along the lines of “that’s simple”.
I read once that the art of coaching can be defined as “making that which is difficult appear to be easy”. I don’t know if I’m quite there or not, because it is a completely different thing to have guys nodding in agreement in a classroom and then having them perform correctly on the field. So we’ll see.
Home game this week for the Surge against Arizona. In all honesty, it looks like the Assassins are struggling a bit again, but our focus has to be on us and our execution. Both Nick Saban and John Wooden refer to their own versions of the “process” and in games like this, that’s where we have to be as well. How perfectly can we execute? I’ll let you know next week.