Changes Are Obvious But Football Coaches Are Still Teachers First

By FirstDown PlayBook on Jan 10, 2023

We have always contended that football coaches are teachers first. Granted, there are other important things that may include being a technician, a disciplinarian, and even a schematic guru, if you insist. However, one thing is certain, if you can’t teach…you will fail in this profession.

I am revamping this old blog from nine years ago for a reason. I just returned from the AFCA convention in Charlotte. It is impressive how coaches are handling all of the new changes.

Let’s be frank. When I wrote this blog almost a decade ago, the portal, NIL’s, and female coaches were not a thing. I am impressed with how the coaching profession is adapting. Is there bitching? Yes, and if the decision makers are smart, they will listen. If they don’t, that game played last night will be a minor league football game, as we watch a different level of football for the NCAA National Championship.

So let’s get to the blog from almost a decade ago. Read it and tell me how different things are now from back then. (Hint…there are some major differences) Second hint…there are some things that are exactly the same…Football coaches are still teachers first…) If you are a young coach, you should heed both the past and the future.

FootBall Coaches Do A Lot But They Are Still Teachers First.

Hey coaches. It’s not about us. Regardless of how hard we work. No matter how much or how little they pay us, or how many times the media tells everyone that we are a “great” coach, recruiter or leader. No matter how many times they make us and our families move. Trust me on this one. It is not about us. It is about the players. Always has been and it always will be.

The best coaches I have seen and had an opportunity to be around have one major thing in common. They are teachers first. That’s what we do. If you can’t teach then I’m not sure how you can coach. How you teach, how you motivate or how you lead is a matter of personal style. We are an ego driven bunch and we all think that our style is best. That’s part of what makes us coaches. We are also extremely driven and competitive.

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Just read the twitter feeds each day from coaches. I mean we are motivating our kids before our feet hit the ground in the morning. “Today’s a new day! Let’s go attack it. See you in the weight room at 5:30 AM!!” This is a special thing. It’s normally the first time that players have been a part of something so intense, as well as something that is demanding more commitment on their part than they have ever experienced before. This is the beginning of players learning the lessons of paying a price with hard work so they can achieve a goal. It is what separates a lot of what players learn in school and what they learn in athletics.

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However, that puts us back to square one. Football coaches are still teachers first. If somewhere in the middle of all of the intensity, the demanding styles, and the loud barking, there is no teaching going on, then it is all for nothing. We need to be demanding on ourselves too. Are we prepared when we hit the meeting room or practice field? Are we organized? What are we trying to teach today? Is it too much? If the player is actually not getting it, could it be because we need to teach it differently? Does he or she learn better with an extra walk through or extra time on the board?

Hard Coaching Doesn’t Mean Screaming All The Time

Every situation and every kid is different. If we start yelling and screaming every time the player doesn’t do what we expect, then eventually that’ not going to be the winning formula. Now, before my phone starts ringing off of the hook from former players let me emphasize I believe in hard coaching. How you use it is the secret sauce. Follow up to hard coaching is also important.

We never seem to have enough time to teach everything we need to, so there is no room for lack of focus, poor effort or wasted reps. I think I have become a better coach over the years. When I was younger, naturally I didn’t know as much so it was an easy out to start yelling in practice if a guy I was coaching didn’t do it exactly as I had imagined.

Later in my career, I would still yell and scream some as do most coaches. There is nothing wrong with that. I just hope that as coaches we will make sure that we are self scouting ourselves as teachers. Pick your spots and make damn sure you are sure about what you are yelling about. Your players have 4-5 years to mature. You, hopefully have 30-40-50 years to grow. Make sure every year you are better than the season before.

And above all…always remind ourselves that whatever we are doing, the player comes first. After all, football coaches are teachers first.

Angellica Grayson