Thursday, January 19, 2017

10 Steps to Starting a Successful High School Football Program

  •  Perhaps the most important role in sport is the role of the High School Football Coach.  No other position has a greater affect on his or her team's success.  A great coach can turn around a struggling program and lift the community in ways many other things cannot.  The hiring of a head football Coach is a huge decision and often times an exhausting lengthy process, with good reason.  

    Many area teams will kick of the season with a new Coach at the helm(6 at last count). With that, I thought I would post something I found written by Dean Colbert.  He spent many years as a successful Head Football Coach and as an Athletic Director, in the state of Texas.

    These are his 10 steps to starting a successful football program.


      1. The Written Five-Year Plan

    I began by developing a five-year plan and I put it in writing. I realized starting a football program would be a process and I felt it was important to have a written plan as a reference to monitor the process. 

    Within this plan, I think it is important to have the following items:

  • Program Philosophy
  • Expectations for the Program
  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
The plan should include a brief summary of “How We Will Win” and an offensive, defensive and special teams philosophy. It is important this plan can be communicated clearly to assistant coaches as well as to each member of the team. There will invariably be peaks and valleys during this process.
During the adverse times, it is good to have a common reference (written plan) everyone understands and values. This should help in re-establishing the positive progress within the program.

2. Accountability

Accountability within the program is very important. Accountability is obtained by having a sound disciplinary policy and by enforcing it consistently.
Fair treatment of all players is vital; from the Division I prospects to the players who may never see the field.
Any favoritism or unfair treatment will be noticed by other team members. This can prove to be devastating in starting a program and the credibility of the coach will likely be damaged.

3. Quality Coaching Staff

Assembling a quality coaching and support staff is extremely important. It is critical each staff member at the youth, middle and high school level understand the overall philosophy of the program. Hiring coaches and support personnel with a similar background or “pedigree” (as the head coach) should help, especially during adverse times.
Establishing a family atmosphere among the coaching staff at all levels is important. It is beneficial if everyone within this family feels a sense of ownership. The mutual feeling that “we are all in this together” should help in the process.

4. Coaches’ Wives And Family

It is very important to have a positive relationship with the wives and family of each coach and staff member. Keeping the wives informed as active participants is critical to helping maintain a positive morale within the coaching staff.

At the beginning of each August, I provide each family with a calendar for the entire season. This calendar enables the coach and his family to plan their schedule throughout the season. The calendar will list the details regarding practice, meetings and scouting responsibilities. I have found if the wives are happy, the staff is also likely to be happy. On the first Friday in August, I host a luncheon at a local restaurant and invite each staff member and their family to attend.

We call it the “Kickoff Luncheon.” At this luncheon, the wives get together and set the schedule for the “post-game celebrations.” Post game celebrations and socials where the families can eat and have fellowship with one another is a great way to establish a true “family atmosphere.”

5. Positive Parental Involvement

Positive parental involvement is important. Keeping parents informed about important dates and events by email or the postal system will be appreciated. A relationship built on trust can be established by effective communication with the parents. When problems with their child occur, the parent may be more understanding since a prior network of communication had been established.

Home visitations are the best way to develop a relationship of trust with parents. A home visitation packet complete with game schedules, NCAA academic requirements and the program philosophy seems to always be appreciated.

6. Community Service

Community service and involvement can be another beneficial aspect of starting a successful football program. This can be performed by the coaching staff as well as by members of the football team.
Visits to local churches, retirement homes and elementary schools are great ways to demonstrate you truly care about the community. Other methods are hosting youth football camps, hosting clinics for youth football coaches and being visible at sporting events other than football games.
7. Quality Off-Season Program
 A quality off-season program is extremely important. In starting a football program, the first season will likely be tough. Whether successful or not, the first off-season is critical.
I have found that Championship Training School followed by a “boot camp” is effective to establish a positive start to the off-season. Championship Training School, or CTS, takes place in a nice auditorium. Each coach will provide a 10-minute presentation to the team on what it takes to be a champion. Some of the topics discussed are: mental and physical development, leadership and character.
After CTS, we start our boot camp or “Camp Paradise.” This is an intense, regimented mental and physical daily workout that typically lasts 3-4 weeks. We sell to the team that “Camp Paradise” is comparable to a Marine Boot Camp. We end with a perfect day and provide the team with T-shirts as a reward. It definitely sets the tone for the rest of the off-season.

Other important phases include strength and speed development, voluntary after school work outs, competing in a second sport (preferably track and field), spring football practices, spring football game and the summer strength/speed camp. It is critical each member of the team voluntarily participate in the summer program.

8. Practice Organization

Practice organization is extremely important. A normal practice can be completed in 90 to 105 minutes if they are organized well and the team moves with a sense of urgency. As game day approaches, the time can be cut even more. It is important not to go beyond the times that have been communicated to the team and parents. By adhering to the posted times, the coach will likely create trust with the parents and team members.

Posting a practice plan and constantly going beyond the times that are posted may create morale problems for the team. Some parents may also not appreciate their sons arriving home later then they expected.

Practices should also be demanding yet interesting and enjoyable. Competition in drills is an effective way to make practices enjoyable. A change of routine is also an effective way to make practices interesting. It is important the players go home daily with a good feeling, eager to share with their parents the positive experience they had in practice.

9. Promote The Program

Promoting the program in a positive light is very important. This should be done often, however and whenever the opportunity presents itself. Public celebrations that include the feeder program, parents and the community can be extremely effective.

Events such as scholarship signings, banquets, cook outs and socials are great ways to promote the program. The recognition of improvement of the program, progress of the program or achievement can also be beneficial.

In 2008, The Atascocita Eagle Football Program was awarded the “Sportsmanship Trophy” by the Houston Chapter of Football Officials. This award was significant because it represents how the team and coaches conducted themselves on the field in a winning or losing effort. I promoted this award to our administration, faculty and feeder program as a huge positive step in the development of our program. We were able to house this trophy for a year. This trophy is about five feet tall and is very noticeable. I made sure it was situated near the front of the school. I was amazed at the positive impact this award provided for our program.

10. Formal Evaluation Of Program

The final step is the formal evaluation of the program. A formal evaluation is conducted at the conclusion of the football season as well as at the end of spring football.

During this time, I will have a one-on-one meeting with each staff member and we will discuss strengths, weaknesses, goals, personnel and suggestions for improvement. I also have each staff member provide me with what they feel we can do to strengthen our program. I also want to know their personal short and long term goals. I want each staff member to realize I am concerned with their advancement in the coaching profession. I want each staff member to know I will assist them in as much as possible to achieve their personal goals.

Each (returning) team member will submit a self-evaluation and goal sheet for the spring, summer and upcoming season. This provides the coaching staff with feedback from their players so they can monitor their progress. Film evaluation is also critical. It is important as a staff we know what has been effective and not effective in terms of our offensive, defensive and special team scheme. This will assist us as we plan for the future.

If you choose to accept the challenge of starting a football program, there will definitely be times of pure frustration, discouragement and defeat. However, I truly believe the permanent benefits and self satisfaction that come from starting a program will far outweigh any temporary negative emotion.


Paul Lowe said...

Thanks Gary! I did 7 of the 10 last year and am working on the other three this off season.

A suggestion for some articles in the off season would be "where are they know" pieces. I have kept up with guys I played with but don't know much about guys I played against. It would be interesting to read who is coaching and where, or where some of the young guys are now playing or whatever happened to the stars of the past. I would enjoy those articles.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Same old SMCC stuff 2 kids from Bedford, 1 from Jefferson, and that's only the ones I know of. Cant imagine why they beat us all by 30.

Put them in a league where other schools can do that.

Tired of it. Without them there is a lot of parity in the league this year in basketball.

They take everybodies best kids. Garbage.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100%. The AD'S need to vote them out sorry they can join with Gabriel Richard Detroit Loyola u of d Jesuit etc.....

Anonymous said...

Lindeman commits to Mount Union- Milan
Blanzy commits to Elmhurst- Grosse Ile
Not that it's important but can Can we hear announcements on where last season players who plan on going to the next level end up?

Gary Hauf said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, and I may be, but hasn't Milan won the league in hoops the last few years or so? I would say in football as well. This year they split with GI. You want to kick out the team who took 2nd or 3rd? Kick out a team who didn't make the playoffs last year?

I think it starts with improving your situation where you are. Make it so parents don't want to send their kids elsewhere.

Some families will want a private, religious based education. There is zero wrong with that.

Kick them out of the league? Nobody says that when they don't win. This year the hoops league is down and cc is strong. So yes the games are lopsided. However that is not normally the case.

Anonymous said...

Milan had won the league in hoops three previous seasons until SMCC swept league play last season. Milan had their two or three top players transfer in from Ypsi that led to their run, and they actually won a state title as well. Yes, SMCC has some players that have transferred in...but other schools have that same opportunity. Every school in Monroe County (and I believe the State of Michigan) is School of Choice. Kids/families with a passion for a particular sport are naturally drawn to successful programs. Too often high school programs are run by coaches with no clue or passion for their program/sport. A successful sports program/coach draws talented kids. This would apply to any school, not just SMCC.

kw said...

Gary I hear what you're saying but you have to see everyone else's point. Everyone is always going to be jealous of a winner, but when you get to it a little different way than others it is frustrating. Put it this way Jefferson is 2-2 in the league in Basketball hasn't prob won a league Championship in eons. They have to watch C.C plowing through the League with ease when if they were just playing with (home Grown Kids) Would make the League prob a crap shoot for 3-4 teams this year. Its just tough to watch. Thank god i don't get to worked up over it after all its just High School sports

Anonymous said...

In the big picture, SMCC defeats almost all of us, all of the time. Wonder why? I will never agree with SMCC being in a public school league, playing all larger schools. This is nothing but an advantage to SMCC. None of the rest of us have a thing to gain from SMCC being in our league.

Obviously, folks that pay $10,000 a year for their kid to go there have a lot more at stake than kids who go to public school for free. Of course these kids are going to kick our buts. They take volleyball lessons at Total Sports, they take Softball pitching lessons since they were 8, the basketball teams play in organized leagues before and after their high school seasons. Public school kids and parents can not afford this. This is just some of the things SMCC athletes do. With all that money put out just to win, obviously they should not be playing public schools.

BUT, when one of us do beat them, its very gratifying, because we did it for free.
Lets keep track on who wins in our new league of 7. In seeing the standings the league should be very exciting this year.

I could argue this for a very long time. I went to CC, my kids go to public school.

Gary Hauf said...

The CYO has always been a huge reason for the success that CC has had.

Gary Hauf said...

Many kids from Jefferson and Airport participate in the CYO as well. Monroe High is well represented in the basketball side of the CYO.

Gary Hauf said...

Kw, I completely understand why somebody would be frustrated. However, if CC wasn't good at athletics, nobody would mention the "advantage" CC has.

kw said...

I agree CYO has been a huge part of C.C success. I think you're right too about people being quiet if they weren't winning league titles. I'm new to all this I graduated from MHS in 89 only reason I've been involved is my kids go to Jeff now. Back then the debate was how C.C would have been able to beat MHS and when we played that never happened lol. I think a few school districts are catching on and starting their own programs. Jefferson getting into First downers was a great idea by Pickens but well see if they can keep a couple teams in the league in the future. They will prob have a decline in participation and lose them and people will go back to pointing the figure @ C.C you cant win now a days

Gary Hauf said...

We are the same grad year Kw.

Anonymous said...

A huge part of coaching success is the job you have. Many folks at CC have their own businesses or part of the family business. They can come and go as they please, review film all day, put in new plays, research what the other guys are doing.

Most of us do not have this luxury. Being a teacher at the school you coach at is a nice advantage, but you still have to teach during the day. People like Coach Giarmo and Coach Windham have much success because of their day job.

Youth farm systems are part of many schools now-a-days. So to keep the advantage, schools have to hope (LOL) they acquire some additional talent from the school of choice program.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that someone is filing a complaint with the state about smcc latest basketball transfer. Not entirely sure on rules on that. Any chance you could clarify? Apparently latest transfer was on a AAU basketball team with the Welch Boys before he decided to transfer. This is considered a link and is a violation.

Any thoughts Mr. Hauf. and/or Chris

Anonymous said...

Funny airport has 2 transfers Monroe and cc, and a school of choice kid Jefferson heck of a baseball player also, in their starting line up for hoops. So 3 of their starters not homegrown kids hmmm. So in school of choice you can go anywhere you want as long as the school has an opening correct. So why not send your kid somewhere it doesn't cost anything. What is the advantage when it has leveled the playing field.

Paul Lowe said...

Unless the SMCC coaches did any of the things on this link, then they haven't broken any rules.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to those continuing their athletic careers. But let's remember these posts when the talk of Division 1 players in the HL occurs next year. D1 players are a different animal and rarely seen in the HL. Again, congrats!

Anonymous said...

Although I'm not sure what exact point this last post (9:11) is trying to make, it should read D1 players are a different animal and are rarely seen in ANY league. Each year about 25 kids go D1 in basketball in the State of Michigan. And on average another 25 go D2 with full athletic scholarships. Beyond that not sure about NAIA LEVEL level or D3 (which does not award athletic $$). So the numbers are simple...approximately 700 HS teams with around 8,000 players each year in The State of Michigan. Only top 50 or 60 kids are going to school on athletic scholarship. That's it... That's much less than 1%. So Huron league or no huron league, it's rare in any league.

kw said...

The big difference is that if you are already enrolled in a school district and change and go somewhere else you have to sit out a semester?? I actually asking. @ 2:49 So yes i agree why don't people go to other school districts. I don't get it but i guess it's easier to go to C.C and not have to sit out at all. Again I'm asking about the sitting out so don't beat me up. Yes Gary We played a few sports against each other if i remember correctly. It seemed a lot easier then i guess

Anonymous said...

The above situation is currently being reviewed by the MHSAA. At this point the player is eligible.

Transfers that went to Airport fell under the academic rule and is very believable because Airport has the most AP classes to offer in the northern part of the county.

Transfers to SMCC are investigated thoroughly because they have the least amount of AP classes in the county, therefore an academic transfer is unlikely and every transfer claims its for academic reasons to be able to play sooner.

Airport or Middle college are best academic places to send a kid in Monroe County if your truly transferring for academic reasons. They are both free. Monroe also has a lot of AP classes to offer.

Gary Hauf said...


Paul Lowe said...

Here's a link to a summary of the transfer rule in Michigan.

Anonymous said...

The point, which I tried to make tactfully, is that all the talk about D1 FOOTBALL talent in the HL is usually hogwash. The offensive MVP this year is going D3. A far cry from the assertions that a D1 offer was in the bag. D1 athletes are few and far between in the HL.

Anonymous said...

1:31 stops spreading things. It is not being reviewed. That process has already taken place. If there was a question he wouldn't be eligible right now. Mhsaa does not allow kids to play unless 100% clear. Playing with a kid on an aau team does not fall under any rules broken. Just irresponsible spreading garbage. And I'm sure playing baseball for the head varsity coach since he was 9 had nothing to do with 2 kids wanting to go to Airport that are in Jeffersons school district. So do you think they wanted to play for coach V or because of Airports ap classes they offer. So just keep opening doors to the argument that everyone is playing on an even field. And guess what, if I had a choice why wouldn't you want to play baseball for the best program around and one of the best fields in the state. But man keep it real.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lowe, thank you for the link.

The biggest problem with transfers is the motivation behind them. The school districts that kids leave behind do not challenge the transfer under the "athletic motivated transfer rule" By challenging the transfer, it could very well cause the student to sit out the whole school year.

The AD's in our area take the nice guy route and never challenge the transfers to SMCC, which most likely are all athletic motivated. If our local AD's are ok with the situation, then I am good with that. As for SMCC, if you need to win that badly to stir this pot everytime you get a transfer, that is up to you.

To elaborate on what 9:11 and 9:13 said, other than Audie Cole, nobody around here is D1 material anyhow and will never get paid to play sports, so its all irrelevant.
A few have made D1 programs over the years, but they do not play.
It is great to hear about local kids extending their sports life, but in the end a good ACT/SAT score and a good GPA will pay a lot more than any athletic scholarship would get you. Sports is fun, but we all must be realistic at some point.

Even the folks at SMCC.

Chris Schultz said...

Couple of questions here with my thoughts and answers.

Are D1 athletes born or made?

It is most likely a little bit of both. Natural size and stature probably play a big role in sports like basketball and football. You don't see many Division I players under 6-0 feet tall. The same can be said of football. How many offensive linemen do you see under 6-3 or 6-4 these days? They all have big frames. Case in point would be Dale Midkiff from Huron. The kid is naturally a giant, but Dale worked his tail off during the off season. I would go and run up at the Huron track and I would see Dale; sprinting, working on agility and working on his pulls and footwork. He was redshirted at EMU this season. Take the big kid from Milan a few years back, Eric Gunderson. He was absolutely huge. I have to imagine the kid put some work in. Now you can look at some programs around the state and say they produce division 1 players every year. Are their kids naturally more gifted than other schools or are their staffs and coaches developing those player? Probably a little bit of both.

Should all transfers just have to sit out an entire school year?

Kids transfer for all sorts of reasons these days, many are academic, some are athletically motivated. Only, the people transferring really know the true reason. Where I am AD, transfers happen all the time. Most of the time, it is disgruntled parents who don't like something with the school or the academics. It is rarely athletics. Now in the city, it runs rampant. Kids will transfer every year from school to school. Athletes who play sports in the fall or spring know that they can transfer and never miss a contest. If your a footballer, transfer before the fourth Friday in February and you are good to go in August. I personally think they should sit an entire calendar year. If you leave a school for any reason other than a family move, they should sit from whatever day that year, to the day before the next year. ( February 20, 2017 to February 19, 2018). It would stop the transfers period! Now arguments have been made a above that these schools have done it, so it should be okay. Thats hogwash. Just because someone does it, doesn't mean it is right. I got a call recently from a father whose family moved. His son starts for a big school in the northern suburbs. He wanted to come to our school. We don't accept mid year transfers. My advice was let him finish the year there and then he can enroll at our school during open enrollment and start in September. I have not spoken to him since.

Anyway, lets here some thoughts.

Anonymous said...

This blog is many on here continually downplaying the importance of high school sports, yet taking the time to read this website and write posts about it. Just sounds like a lot of sour grapes to me.

Anonymous said...

Watch Dale Midkiff from Huron a redshirt freshman at Eastern Mich Univ will probably play a lot next fall. By the way Dave Teague from Huron was Capt. at EMU

Anonymous said...

Thank you Chris, I was hoping you would chime in, being an AD.

Transferring is frustrating and I agree that the rules should be adjusted so that it is highly discouraged. Any good parent knows that your child can get a good education at your local high school and go on to college. All schools have the same state education requirements. The ONLY good reason I could ever see for transferring is if your in a high crime area and you fear for your childs life, but in that case, hopefully you would just move out of that area.

You should get together with the local AD's and get something going. I'm sure many AD's in the Huron League would back you. I have been told the AD's talk often down here(Monroe area) when transfers go down, because there is always some doubt in the motivation. The AD at the high school my kids attend said he doesn't like to make waves with other high schools when a transfer leaves our school and the reason is in doubt, so he leaves well enough alone.

Just curious, does anybody on here know how many transfers Ray Lauwers had when he coached at CC ?? Wondering what it is compared to today.

#9 Dad said...

D 1, D 2, or D 3, the next level changes at all 3. Some kids get over looked for several reasons and have to play D 2 and D 3. No shame there. Eye candy helps, even if your not that good. I'm very proud to say my kid is moving on to the next level. Some don't get that chance. The one thing that I can say, no matter what level, there is always the opportunity to go further.
#9 Dad

#9 Dad said...

I disagree. The offensive MVP is going to a school that wins championships, and they put players in the NFL, CFL,and Arena League. If #9 would have played 4 years at Saline, or Pioneer or Bedford, his looks at D 1 schools would have tripled. He had 4 D 1 schools interested. He choose a D 3 school over several D 2.

Anonymous said...

D1 goes after size and not talent. Lindeman had a few walk on options for 2 division 1 schools and 2 offers from division 2 and a heck of a lot of "academic" offers from division 3. Mount Union could most likely beat 75% of division 2 schools and they have a great football and academic program with 95% of their kids graduating with jobs. Kids get caught up with what division a school is instead of choosing a school that is the right fit. Size has 95% to do with a kid going division 1. Just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

Or Ferris can not play with even a down Eastern team. It's a different level. There are a ton of things that go into being recruited. Is size considered. Of course. But talent is number 1. There is a reason why the Matt Sexton from Clinton last season went D-1 to EMU. He's a 5"11 180 lb White receiver that got time this year and played. Why? Because he has an emensse amount of talent. Ask SMCC when he beat them last year. The kid was special. You have to be that type of kid to make it D-1.

Dennis Northfleet was 5"7 165lbs for Michigan a few years back out of Detroit King. They didn't take him for his size, but pound for pound was one of the best RB's to ever come out of the Detroit area and state of Michigan for that matter. Size is important, but you have to be a special talent to play at the Divison 1 level if especially if you're a skill Kid.

Chris mentioned Eric Gunderson from Milan back 10 yrs ago. 6"7 300 lbs. Bottum line is..... He was an average player. He didn't get a scholarship to Michigan. He was a Preferred walk on. My point being that there is so much that goes into being a D-1 type kid. Attitude, work ethic, talent etc

Anonymous said...

Did he walk on? I don't remember a difference maker for Huron last year on the line?

Anonymous said...

The talk is great. Congrats to all who make it. Please report back in the fall and let us know who actually gets to play.

Good Luck.

#9 Dad said...

Very well said.

Anonymous said...

Yes a walk on, and to me being a walk on isn't saying much about your talent.

kw said...

Sour Grapes?? Lmao ya you have me pegged