Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Updated: My Bass Life

If you had told me 7 years ago that I would be this immersed in bass fishing, I would have told you that you are nuts. But God has a sense of humor and I've traded one intense pursuit into another.... I chased football coaching like it was life and death fro 28 years..and now I have that same drive to become better at fishing and coaching a bass team.

Like all earthly pursuits- this one will never find me the complete fulfillment that can only come from God- but fishing and football have been great gifts and blessings that the Lord has used to shape me and put me in fellowship with some amazing people.

I always loved to fish- but never had the urge to develop knowledge and skills. And, though I am working hard- the level of skill and knowledge is WAY behind those who really know what they are doing. Some of the old timers who really know their stuff look at me when I ask a question with that strange- 'you don't know about that!' look of admonishment.

But I did want to take some time to look at some highlights as far as quality fish. Again, some of these things I publish is for my kids and pride's sake- I won't be sharing on social media- but is a fun way to reflect and remember.


Personal Best: 12.5 (estimated)
29"long/ and a girth of 19"- huge belly
My Big Fish Story
Dec. 18, 2013 Private Lake in Rockford, AL

I hate that we did not have a scale-we did have a tape measure- the Bass Resource calculator listed it as 15.665

Witness: Coach Steve Renfroe

Lure: green fluke with a tiny weight pegged about 5 inches up.

In the monster's mouth was the fin of a fish that looked as big as the earlier bass I caught. This fish was stuffed to the gill and still eating!


Shimano, Lake Caroline: 7.14

June 27, 2018- Winning Edges Filming

Witness: BCS Bass Team and Lisa Talmadge, Shimano

Lure: Junebug Red monster on skip gap head

Was skinny, if fat might have been a 10.

Lake Caroline Double:
Lake Caroline, Louisville, AL
June 7, 2017 -  6.37

I caught this and Connor Peterson hung a 6.46 at the same time!

Witness: Melissa and Conner

Lure: Green pumpkin monster on skip gap head



KVD BASS

WEIGHT 6.3 LBS
Oct 11, 2016 Lake Caroline, Louisville, AL

Lure: Finesse Black Trick Worm- Drop Shot

Witness: Jack Flemming/ Grayson Morris

We were helping an MLF corporate event and we pulled up right after Kevin Van Dam had left the spot.

Jack and Grayson were trying to get me to hold it up to KVD- I just turned and looked- but the story and been growing since.

This is my Lake Caroline PR


PICKWICK BASS AGAIN!

WEIGHT 5.5
April 13, 2018
Old Steam Plant- Pickwick Lake, Florence, AL

Lure: black flake finesse skip gap shakey head

Witness: Brian Berry/ Jeff Davis


How good is Pickwick? every time I go I catch a 5 lbr!
PICKWICK BASS

WEIGHT 5.4
March 19, 2016
Barge Canal- Pickwick Lake, Florence, AL

Lure: Square Bill

Witness: Austin Luke

This may be my all time favorite fish and I LOVE Pickwick.

We were parallel casting down the barge canal when this beauty tore it up! She got wrapped up around the trolling motor and I almost lost her.




WHOPPER PLOPPER BASS

WEIGHT 5.0
March 26, 2017
Lake Caroline, Louisville, AL
Lure: Whopper Plopper

We were in the very back of a wooded cove where fish were exploding on top water and chasing shad.

A 2 lb bass exploded on my whopper plopper but missed- I could see the fish so I paused and watched it gearing up to strike when this fish came out of no where and blasted it.

Nolen Vinson (who later caught a 12.0 fish) said it was one of his all time favorite bites to watch.



PICKWICK BEDDING BASS

WEIGHT: 4.43
April 14, 2017
Lake Pickwick, Florence, AL
Lure: finesse trick work- shakey head- black/red flake

Felt like a bream tap- must have been on bed- 2 ft of water

Fun time with Jeff Davis









LAKE LION SPECIAL

estimated- 5 lbs

I sight fished this beauty- got the male first- came back later for female.

Took about 30 minutes- watched her take a blue/red speckles Ned rig

Had to fight her for 4 or 5 minutes to get her out of the weeds

April 12, 2017- after school

LOGAN MARTIN SPOT

I have come to love Logan Martin as my favorite of the Coosa Lakes...

The Coosa Spotted Bass is as mean as they come and to get this 3 lbr was quite a fight.

Caught it on black shakey head on the infamous Texaco hump.

We caught almost 80 on that day

March 30, 2016



LAKE CAROLINE BASS

I could load up the page of all Lake Caroline Bass I have caught in the year I have had the privilege to fish there. That lake is LOADED with 3 and 4 lb hard fighting fish.

Lures/ Techniques that have caught bass over 3 lbs at Lake Caroline: Texas Rig, Drop Shot, Ned Rig, KVD Lucky Shad, Square Bill, Jerk Bait, Fish Head Spin, Fluke, Whopper Plopper, Lizard, Football jig, Carolina Rig, scrounger, Pop R, skip gap head, wobble head


Here is the 'double'

It has been an amazing lake to learn on.

Since we have been going, we have caught almost 2,000 bass and taken out 1400 small ones.

This lake will continue to get better and better and I believe it will produce a 14 or 15 lb bass soon.

Who knows.... maybe bigger?



The last 2 trips, I have helped pull in TWO 12 lb fish....

More to come......
GUNTERSVILLE BLAST

WEIGHT 2.0
July 28, 2015
Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, AL
Lure: Bull Shad

This isn't a big fish- but you would never know it by the way he charged out of the grass mat I was fishing.

We missed some big ones that morning- but this one was more fun than the misses!








LAKE MITCHELL

WEIGHT 2.5 EST

Cargyle Creeek, Lake Mitchell
Clanton, AL
July 28, 2014

This one is special because I got to go back to Lake Michell after fishing it for years. But this time I was armed with a blue/black swim jig and has this beauty explode out of the grass.

Brought back good memories of that place







LAY LAKE

June 23, 2014
Beeswax Creek, COLUMBIANA, AL

Another good memory because I was just learning to swim a jig in the grass.

This was a white swim jig with a ribbits frog trailer.

PICKWICK SMALL MOUTH

April 13, 2018
Pickwick Lake, Florence

This was my first ever smallie- can't wait to get more of them this summer!







Hope I add to this fun report soon... Lord willing....



Until next time............

Book Review: 'Openness Unhindered' by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

I love it when the Lord sends a book my way. He always plans it as the right time...just when I need the message.

The biggest surprise to me is that the ministry of this book has nothing to do with the great discussion of sexual identity and the Bible, NO- this book is a beautiful exposition on a comprehensive Scriptural application of how repentance and faith should be the daily posture of a disciple of Jesus.

I was not familiar with Butterfield, nor have I read her first book in which she details her journey to Christ from the world of women's studies and gay activism to ending up the wife of a reformed presbyterian pastor who homeschools a house full of kids.... a journey she calls 'a train wreck'.

Her story, her past, and he reliance on the Bible creates the best and worst of all possible tensions in her life; taking shots from inside the church and the outside world as she meticulously applies the truth from her faithful exegesis of God's revealed truth.

Early in chapter two, she confesses a deep desire "And often I long for just one person in church to understand me." It would be easy to dismiss that as the heart cry of a woman who attended church and wrestled with the gospel in the midst of a lesbian relationship. In reality, it is the heart cry of a lover of literature who was so enraptured by God's written word that it has transformed her very being in ways that few christians understand.

How powerful is the Bible? Just look at the radical change of heart and perspective of Rosaria.

That is why God sent it my way... I often am just another fool who thinks I can walk in the Spirit without the daily search lamp of God's Living Word in my daily life.

If God's holiness seems foreign to me or I find myself just tap dancing through the empty routine of christian lingo or jargon- it is always the same issue- I have become a stranger to His glorious truth.

I wish I could somehow entice my children to devour this book.... and that it would do for them what it did for me... make me thirsty and hungry for God's Word.

That motivation comes from the discipline of repentance... something I tend to relegate to a prayer I prayed 30 years ago... but the call of repentance is daily... maybe even hourly in my life.

It is my understanding that the earlier book is short- called a memoir "Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert" and this book dives deeper into the process of conversion, repentance, and Christian community. The radical change, combined with her life experiences produces clarity of thought as she then discusses the debate of the multiple layered/complex issues of human sexual desire, sexual practice, and identity.

This type of apologetic is needed in other issues as well- medial ethics, social justice, race relations, lifestyle, politics.....to name just a few.

Her apologetic? IT IS SIMPLE.... "Did I really want to understand (_______________) from God's point of view, or did I just want to argue with Him?" She filled in the blank with homosexuality, but that blank has room for a lot of issues we struggle with.

CONVERSION

We know what the Bible clearly says.... it is necessary for all humans to have the eyes of their heart opened to see sin properly, to understand the gospel,  receive the grace to believe, and be justified and adopted as a son/daughter of the King.

That process took many years for Rosaria.

But the spark of hope showed in a very humble confession.... 'for the first time in my life, I wondered if I was was wrong'.

And again, the Bible was key in arresting her rebellion... and she fought it valiantly.

"I straddled two worlds and two lives for two years."

"After years and years of this, something happened. THE BIBLE GOT TO BE BIGGER INSIDE ME THAN I."

Another startling truth entered her understanding as well. This next quote won't get you a lot of smiles in this culture...... a rare proclamation....

"The image of me and everyone I loved suffering in hell crashed over me like shark-infested waves of a raging sea. Suffering in hell not because we were gay, but because we were proud. We wanted to be autonomous. It was our hearts first, and our bodies followed. I got it. I heard it. Finally. I counted the cost and I did not like the math."

Thankfully, God never allows that humble posture to remain wounded and broken for long:

"But God's promises rolled in like another round of waves into my world."

Also, the people who stood with her and loved her in the process were there as well. Rosaria's story is as much about a loving church as it is about the loving God at its head.

GOD'S CALL TO REPENT

This was the concept that I needed to reclaim in my world of pride and rebellion.

First- Repentance is God's consistent clarion call to all.....


Acts 17:30–31
[30] The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, [31] because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (ESV)

Revelation 2:4–5
[4] But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. [5] Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (ESV)

Matthew 3:2- John the Baptist: “Repent, the kingdom is at hand”
Matthew 4:17- Jesus: “Repent, the kingdom is at hand”
Mark 6:12- Disciples: “ proclaimed people should repent
Acts 2:38- Peter: “Repent and be baptized”
Acts 17:30- Paul: “Command all everywhere to repent


Secondly, Repentance is evidence of God's Holy Spirit at work in our lives.....


"My journey into repentance was proof that I was one of God's own, one of the lost sheep, and He was leading me and guiding me and protecting me and comforting me.'


Thirdly, Repentance is necessary to continually fight the ever present indwelling sin in believers.

WE ARE ALL CALLED TO FORSAKE THE SIN WE LOVE BEST.

Finally, Repentance has a goal...obedience and holiness which pleases and glorifies God. This is also the final release of the enemy's accusation of shame.

"Sin must be dealt with in a posture of Christian combat, not in expected or celebrated defeat and failure. We are to use the full armor of all the means of grace that God gives to us. This (daily posture) teaches us that conversion gives you freedom from the crime of sin and gives you the liberty to respond to God's grace of conversion through repentance and obedience.... it was then that I got it: repentance and the love of God- and the obedience to His law that grows from them- were the missing links between shame and grace."

I hope this will inspire you to find and read this book.... for a few days, I had Rosaria in one hand and Romans 1-8 in the other.... taking time to ponder anew the glorious gospel. And I crawled back to a renewed desire to battle the weariness of my sin.

And will likely need to be reminded.... again.... and again... and again....


"There is therefore, NOW, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)" AMEN


“Grace isn’t a lollipop a doctor gives to distract a kid from the shot doctor- Grace does not make obedience negotiable- when the law reveals our sin, God’s grace compels me, fuels me, inspires me TO REPENT, knowing that it is against God as well as others I have sinned” 

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

My Most Neglected Area of Improvement

In an attempt to always be real and transparent- especially to my children who may one day decide to read about dear ole dad- I post from time to time things that I don't publish.

This is one of those- here for the reader, but not something I will blast out.

But this one is important, because my body, mind, and soul bear marks of neglect and compel me to write this as motivation for me to act.

The Lord has made it quite clear to me that I have been way too casual in paying too little attention to indwelling sin in my life- been way too passive is calling them out by name- been way too friendly with the spiritual cancers that eat away at the intimacy I should have with God.

I am so thankful to Rosaria Champagne Butterfield and John Owen for writing about this and their words have been so correcting. God is also so gracious in His patience and timing... He knew there was a season coming where this message could hit me in the heart and allow me an opportunity to make improvements.... so this post is a hopeful declaration of being back in the game and battling the old man who is always bent on slip, sliding away....

I am going to post the Owen quote:

Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days: whatever else they know, they know not themselves. They know their outward estates, how rich they are: and the condition of their bodies, as to health and sickness, they are careful to examine; but as to their inward man, and their principles as to God and eternity, they know little or nothing of themselves. Indeed, few labor to grow wise in this matter, few study themselves as they ought, are acquainted with the evil of their own hearts as they ought, on which the whole course of their obedience, and consequently of their eternal condition, depends. This, therefore, is our wisdom, and is a needful wisdom, if we have any design to please God, or to avoid that which is a provocation to the eyes of His glory.

This process started back in January as I was thinking about improvements I wanted to make in 2018- and I felt like the Holy Spirit said..."How come you have never set a goal to be more Holy?"- the thought struck me and semi-repulsed me at the same time (I am being bare boned honest here). It was like... sure, I'd love to be more weird..... sure, I am that prideful that I want to be more like a Pharisee... my initial response was proof enough to to my spiritual lethargy and my coziness with the world and its leisures and my laziness.

But like a lot of thoughts that come my way... it startled me for a brief time and then I drifted back into all the myriad of distractions that shield me from those ideas of eternal significance.

Another thing that was happening was that I was being beaten down pretty hard in my job. In God's providence, things amped up beginning in January 2017 and I worked at a pace that I had never encountered as a professional... giving me great empathy for many I know who work in similar jobs.

It was exhilarating for awhile- a challenge. But without my spiritual house in 100% order...it did not take long for wear and tear... to start taking a toll on me. I was scrambling at a record pace, but not doing any of it very well.

The slide is always subtle... less Bible, less prayer, more food, less exercise, self protection mechanisms kick in, and my sensors begin to hear my own heart and not God's whispers.

Don't get me wrong... on the outside, I still looked like my normal self... this was no so called mid-life crisis.... but when I am not right with God, I am not right. And the world becomes my friend, and my selfish, lazy self begins to take over... my god becomes my appetite...with the keyword being 'MY'.

Here is where, though, my enemy never wins. No man or immortal will ever get me to doubt the tenderness, graciousness, kindness, and generosity of Christ... He is always there, in the midst of my malaise..... ready set to re-start me. His timing is always dead perfect... and He gently, but persistently pushes me back on track.

So I had read the first two chapters of Butterfield's "Openness Unhindered" in 2016... and was so intrigued and encouraged. But the book 'disappeared' from my stack of reading material and I got busy.

Fast forward to the depth of my misery through March, April, May of 2018... totally hanging on by a thread.... I was worn out, out of shape, had gained 15 lbs, and my prayers were something like "Help".

So I am fumbling though a box in my garage in mid-May and I find the book again.... and where I left off was chapter 3...."Repentance"... and Rosaria easily explained the source of my ills... I had given up in my battle vs indwelling sin...and my misery was the price of that inaction.

She humbly and warmly steered me back to Romans 1-8- reconnected me with John Owens from 1655 and the Lord provided some life circumstances to shut down my computer and re-boot.

I don't know how long this will last or what what may knock me in the two ditches I am constantly crawling out of.... http://www.jayopsis.com/2012/12/the-hard-glorious-frustrating-beautiful.html


THE DITCH OF LEGALISM

       On the right side of this road is legalism- our diabolical self comes in and says- 'Oh you are cleaning up so well'- and you start feeling really good about yourself – and you start looking around at others- and in your desire to help them you package your rules and rituals and begin to try and help others. Before long, we find ourselves as self righteous Pharisees- looking down at sinners and trying to be everyone’s Holy Spirit.
I know the Pharisee well- I play him a lot. Our culture helps me play him very well. We have become the biggest opinionated and judgmental civilization in the history of man. We have talking heads on TV espousing one view after another and call it entertainment. I love it! I used to be an O’Reily junkie. The problem is that I began to love my arguments over loving people. 
The worst part of my Pharisee legalistic self is my gossip and criticism of others. I am not loving- I am condemning. We point out the 10% bad and refuse to see the 90% good. 
THE DITCH OF LICENSE
So I finally get out of the legalistic path and drink grace and liberty. Ahh! Christian freedom. It is glorious! Christ’s death frees us from the ceremonial and civil law. There is a better law- the moral law, written on my heart- the Sermon on the Mount puts it into my motives and mind- it is a beautiful thing! 
But just beyond Christian liberty is license. It is a ditch as derailing as legalism. Paul wrote in Romans “How can we who died to sin, still live in it?” In this state, everything goes- all truth is relative, I do what I think and I feel- there is no suspicion of my motives or actions. I do what is right in my own eyes and put it under the blood.
I walk into a situation, run to sin, eviscerate my conscience and say “I am forgiven”. Before long, I am powerless, hardened, and my God is my comfort. The irony of the ditch of license is that we love people even less than the Pharisee. I don’t care about their eternal destination. I am afraid of confrontation. If I stand for truth, it will indict me. So I walk around and tell people all is fine when I know we are growing colder and darker by the second. Loving someone means saying no - and that includes to myself.

So, I will check back in soon and see if I have some improvements that matter...

God is to be praised.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Developing and Communicating a Philosophy of Playing Time

The following post is a general philosophy for a school that has about 125 students per grade and is meant to illustrate 'principles' and not applied as official policy. This is to help in discussion among coaches and AD's.



When I was growing up, it was quite common for a school to have long term coaches. Many of these coached multiple sports and were loved and revered. Over the average 25 year career, a coach would have a few championships, even a few losing seasons, a long history of working hard and doing the best they could and mostly experiencing average high school seasons with their teams... each year having highs or lows.

The trend has changed... and news stories reflect these days multiple coaches being let go and the record plays a primary role in those decisions, regardless of what the statement from the AD may say.

Even good coaches can have the tide of belief and support eroded to the point that they aren't able to be effective in their craft.

School administrators are often faced with a tough decision... hang on until the negativity graduates or give in and start over.

I have always been an advocate of hanging on in tough times and showing great support to a coach who is under fire from the outside. Too often, if the decision is to give in, it creates an instability that is based on conventional wisdom and not based on true, measurable, and objective standards.

If outside pressures become the norm in making coaching changes, the threshold of support will often dip to a very low benchmark. In some sad cases, it isn't even if a coach won enough... it can become simply "my kid isn't happy'.

I do believe in working with coaches to improve their craft, but those are internal goals. 

There are things any coach can do that could get them removed quickly... but these things must always follow a private and fair due process... something our culture does not handle well.

COMMUNICATION OF EXPECTATIONS

Where some coaches DON"T help themselves, is not communicating their philosophy and procedure of playing athletes. This should be the foundation of other policies and procedures- such as evaluation, development,  and cutting players.

These concepts should be introduced as far down the feeder systems as possible and a varsity head coach should put healthy pressure of all youth coaches to buy into the philosophy.

PLAYING TIME UP INTO MIDDLE SCHOOL- PLAY THEM ALL- HAVE FUN

I urge all youth coaches to be creative in playing all their players and develop as many individual skills as time allows. The worst player in 4th grade may be an all-star one day. I do BELIEVE you can play a lot of players and still put a competitive team on the floor.

I believe it is ok to teach competition and winning... but tricking up a team to win based on relying on just one player or a small group of early developed athletes could prevent a full championship team from developing in the future.

I used to get some frustrated youth coaches when I demanded they divide up talent evenly and play everyone in early grades.... but I knew it would pay off down the road.

Most of the pushback was ego driven.... and it was never an easy conversation.

THE SHIFTING PENDULUM OF PLAYING TIME

See if you can tell the flow I recommend coaches to think through...... again, these are football concepts...but do apply to other team sports. NOTE: THIS IS PRIMARILY FOR A PROGRAM THAT DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH FOOTBALL PLAYERS IN ONE GRADE TO COMPLETELY FILL OUT A TEAM. AS NUMBERS INCREASE, THESE CAN BE ADJUSTED.

Beginning in 6th grade, we do not believe in “equal” playing time, but we do begin to apply a spectrum that will shift throughout an athlete's experience at our school.

6th Grade-       School Mission- Primary, Development of Individual- Primary
                        DEVELOPING TEAM CONCEPTS- CRUCIAL      
                        Going for Wins- becoming more important
                        Playing everybody- still somewhat important

Concept: Coaches will plan for everyone playing and still go for wins. The better players will play more, but we want everyone to get playing time during the game; special team reps do count. Distribution of “ball carrying” is encouraged but not mandated. We may lose some games because of this, but that is OK. Post-game evaluation will be required by coaches that records who played and the number of game reps they had.
Exceptions: Players may not get playing time if they have missed practice or there is physical harm possible because of physical limitations.
                         

7th Grade-       School Mission- Primary, Development of Individual- Primary
                        DEVELOPING TEAM CONCEPTS- CRUCIAL      
                        Going for Wins- More important
                        Playing everybody- less important

Concept: 7th grade is the first taste of a “perseverance year”. It is important to begin learning to support team goals over individual desires. It is a lot of practice repetition for little playing time. Your son should be learning the system and providing excellent practice effort. Coaches will schedule some “B” games to provide more actual game time if possible, but it will not satisfy actual playing time desires. Coaches should develop every player and look for ways to encourage them and play them but not at the expense of learning how to “win”.
Exceptions: Very talented 7th graders may start or play over 8th graders. Team numbers may eventually allow a separate 7th grade team.

8th Grade-       School Mission- Primary, Development of Individual- Primary
                        DEVELOPING TEAM CONCEPTS- CRUCIAL      
                        Going for Wins- important
                        Playing everybody- less important

Concept: 8th grade is a “senior year” rehearsal. A lot is put on the 8th graders to begin leading. Leadership is as important as playing time. Players will be asked to address the team and begin practicing “servant leadership”. Being an 8th grader is not a guarantee of playing time. The best players will play. Some 8th graders will be invited up to varsity football at the end of their season pending administrative approval.


Varsity- 9-12  School Mission- Primary, Development of Individual- Primary
                        DEVELOPING TEAM CONCEPTS- CRUCIAL      
                        Going for Wins- extremely important
                        Playing everybody- very unimportant

Concept: Prime time and prime reps. There is no reward playing time guaranteed. Coaches play players based on the best chance to win the game.

9th grade- similar to 7th grade- no expectations, learn to support “team”. A great developmental year. Some 9th graders do play if they can contribute.

EXCEPTIONS: Much care is used to keeping program development and fresh athletes on the field. Early in the season a player may play a position where there may be a better athlete in that position. These are developing depth issues. Coaches reserve the right to make developmental reps during the season knowing long term goals are sometimes more important that short-term goals.

WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW

FACTORS THAT MAY AFFECT PLAYING TIME:
Poor practice effort
Poor game performance
Poor attitude
Inconsistent commitment
Team rules violations
Injury or illness
Missed practice time
Poor off-season attendance
School issues, including academic performance

Please recognize that coaches see every meeting, every practice, every workout, and every film. They are far more qualified to pick players than anyone else involved in the program.

Finally, inconsistent participation in the program may affect ability to play. Players who drop out in 7th or 9th may often find themselves developmentally behind the players who play all 6 years. As coaches, we do not feel any pressure to play students who are in and out of the program.

“Coming out for my senior year” is generally discouraged in every case.

Common Theme: Generally players who play have happy parents and players who don’t have unhappy parents. That is OK and expected. Do not ever let dissatisfaction be voiced in front of your ATHLETE. It will rob the coach of any real chance to impact his life.

Hear this distinctive and balance: We believe that you can put a premium on winning without violating character and virtues. We reject any notion of accepting anything less than a quest for excellence, which includes winning. We are not ‘win at all costs’, but we are also not ‘win in the heart and not on the scoreboard’ either.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Winning Mindset

As I talk from coaches time to time, I often ask them about ideas and plans for training their team in leadership, character development, and other important factors that have little to do with scheme.

In doing so, I have become a big believer in walking a team through a 'mental mindset'. If we can discuss these situations together BEFORE we get into the thick of the battle... it may help us keep us in the best competitive attitude for the entire game.

Though this post is geared toward football.. a lot of this transcends to other team sports.

My first category is the "Mindset of Each Week"- and this is the one that coaches squirm over.  The 'conventional wisdom' or 'word on the street' can influence a team before the first meeting or practice of the week ever takes place - the so called ‘rat poison’ that Coach Nick Saban coined in 2017. The old-school approach to this is to build up the opponent each week to motivate your team. I think a better approach is to address the 'conventional wisdom' head on- because each scenario requires a true competitor to give maximum effort and attention each week.

Games Where You are 'Favored' by a Lot- this is the scenario that all coaches hate. I believe it is ok to acknowledge that it is the 'message' they will hear all week and how dangerous and foolish it is to buy into that message. So address it- don't speak of the other team much and work hard. Now here is my BEST advice here. No matter how hard you try... you are going to have a game where your team did not listen to you and they are playing like crud and you come in at halftime with a game that is closer than it ever should be. You will be tempted to do the biggest "I told you so" and put on a temper tantrum performance like no other. But if you are the better team, the only way you will lose is to eventually kill yourself. Wait and do the I told you so AFTER the game and preferably not until the next team meeting at the beginning of next week. Don't waste your halftime screaming... instead, give them a plan to win it in the 2nd half and teach them to drop a bad half. Even a win by 1 point is still a win... an ugly win is a win-

Games Where You are Favored or a Toss-UP- I don't mind these- learn to embrace these as a competitor- I believe it is OK to treat it realistically, but avoid the pitfall of what others/media might think. Again, part of training this current generation is to keep them positive if the early part of the game doesn't go well. Again, talk about these things during the summer and teach your team how to not get lulled into thinking that they can just show up and win a game.

Games Where You are a Big Underdog. I don't know why I have excelled in these over the years, but part of it is that I always have had a plan to win and found a way to sell my teams on it. I only remember 1 time in all of my years  coaching that I did not handle this well and that was showing doubt to my coaches at halftime one game where we were man handled. The biggest challenge in these games is to admit that the other team is good, but NEVER allow yourself to build them up too good. Show your team a route to win it. And the bottom line is to always fight to the very last second.

My Next Category is "TYPES OF GAMES" I believe again that you can do a lot of this teaching in the summer and pre-season. Might be good to show examples of these types of games using college or pro cut-ups.

Early momentum or early difficulty: Talk about not easing up with an early or easy lead and not giving up with an early deficit.

Sloppy Slugfest: Sometimes games ARE ugly- teach the mindset to 'just win'. I used to get a big laugh when I talked about how we 'shot ourselves in the foot, then stabbed ourselves in the head, then cut off our legs... and then bandaged it all up and found a way to win"

Mistakes: This is a big one. Talk to your guys about screaming at a teammate who makes a mistake. If he isn't hustling or needs an attitude adjustment, that's one thing. But a hustling error isn't worth a chewing. Teach them how to support one another in that. Now, coaches may choose to 'intensely correct' but again make sure they know their player and what type of motivation is good.

Down by more than 1 score/ or more: Teach your team how to handle that. I used to ask our guys to use a hand signal and point to their eyes which was an indication that we had our eyes up and still confident. Sometimes I would stop a film in the 3rd quarter of a previous game and ask, 'right here, how many of us still believed we could win?". If it is a halftime deficit, remind the guys to grind away and chip away- you need to be patient in a comeback. As coaches, you have to be patient as well, becoming a riverboat gambler may actually put the game out of reach. Also, don't start going for two too soon.

Down by a ton: I encourage every coach to teach your team how to keep their reputation and class when the game is over before it is over. Remind them that they can lose a lot more than a game if they decide to quit or begin plying like thugs, throwing helmets... competitors need to know that sometimes you get beat, but you don't have to respond like a loser.

Defensive showcase: Some games will be a 6-3 or 7-6 or 3-0 game. Teach your guys how to embrace that. Try to keep the offense engaged and confident. teach the value of field position.

Offensive showcase: Some games are just 'last team with the ball'. Teach your guys to embrace that. Keep your defense encouraged- keep preaching 1 stop or 1 turnover can win it for us. Fight even harder in the red zone- don't let explosive plays become scoring plays.

Weather impacted: I have written on this before. Never complain.. both teams have the same conditions... don't adjust normal game plan too soon.

Crowd Noise/ Band Noise: Explain how to handle it - have helps built into your system- discuss how to embrace it without causing additional problems

Injury shake-up: Discuss how to rally together as a team but stay focused on the game. Players AND coaches.

Bad Official's Call: Discuss how getting angry at an official can cause you to lose focus. Let only the head coach bark at the official. Don't develop a losers mindset to use officiating as an excuse.

Overtime: Tell your guys that we LOVE an opportunity to win an OT game. Those are the wins you remember. Discuss how we call overtime situations.

Pressure Packed: Don't get too caught up in the stakes, just play it one play at a time. You have rehearsed this and you can do it as a team.

Again, I think you can spread this out during pre-season and discuss BEFORE you encounter.

Bottom line is the 'don't get wrapped up in the storyline/message/ outside talk/ scoreboard - just play the game- embrace the competition of winning each play- and fight to the finish.

Situations a Lot of teams don’t handle well

Finally, here are some game situations I think coaches need to re-think

  • Sky kicks and kick-offs into a big wind
  • a defensive 3rd and long/ 4th and long/ or hail mary-  blitz the short side corner
  • Kick-off with a 15 yard penalty help- use a deep squib or onside.
  • Team expecting an onside but have time and time-outs- corner squib
  • 4th and short- be careful on defense
  • practice pinning teams inside the 10 or 5 (FG punt)
  • 2 min drill/ 4 min drill
  • red zone mindset vs spread- bend but don’t break
  • resting players is an art


Have you ever considered how many factors work against the dynamics needed for team success?

These factors are external AND internal.

And, the foundational principles required for team success are found primarily in traditional values that are being lost in our secular society.

THE GOLD STANDARD:

Let me begin by saying that there is no such thing as a perfect team and I have NEVER watched a perfect football game. It's funny how mistakes that can cost you from winning are often made in games you win- it's just that a team overcame those mistakes.

But the reality of never achieving perfection is no excuse from an intentional and passionate pursuit of perfection.

A Championship Team:

Is made up of individuals who are pursuing an ideal of a TEAM- where group success will be valued higher than individual success. But group success is enhanced by individuals giving their individual energy and talents with everything they have.

TRANSCENDENT VIRTUES OF ALL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS:

TRUST/ A JOURNEY WITH A DESTINATION and a BROTHERHOOD

FAITH IS TRUST- AND TRUST IS A FRAGILE FUEL THAT GROWS IN A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT- HONESTY/INTEGRITY/ AND  A POSITIVE ATTITUDE- OPTIMISM

HOPE IS WHAT YOU ARE PURSUING- EVEN IF THE GOAL IS NOT SEEN- TRUST FUELS THE INDIVIDUAL TO NEVER LOSE THAT DESTINATION- IT GIVES POWER TO THE JOURNEY

LOVE IS THE HIGHEST TEAM VIRTUE- IT IS NOT NATURAL- AND REQUIRES SELFLESSNESS AND VULNERABILITY

ANY COMPETITOR UNDERSTANDS THAT HONEST PUSHBACK AND DISCIPLINED CORRECTION IS NEEDED TO GROW. A COACH WHO TAKES TIME TO PUSH YOU SHOWS THAT HE CARES FOR YOU. DON'T MAKE HIM THE ENEMY, LEARN TO BE CHISELED AND MOLDED...

I tip my hat to ALL coaches this day and age... social media, rapid spread of opinion, a soft and selfish culture... keep fighting the good fight! You are making a difference!