Over. Done With. Gone.

Logically, our high school football season would end either when we lost our playoff game or we failed to make the playoffs. Makes sense, right?

Game over, mope around a couple of days, check in equipment, and say those awful goodbyes to senior young men who will never play organized football again. Over. Done with. Gone.

But that’s never the way it happened. Never.

Sure, we’d do all the stuff listed above. Plus, we’d have the requisite end-of-the-season banquet where I’d have to fake-smile my way through the whole ordeal because all I could think about were my failures as a coach that season (Although the player-produced highlight videos were always cool, no matter how few highlights we may have actually produced on the field that year.).

Even then, the season was never really over for me until the last game, the 4A state championship, was played. Somebody in 4A was still playing AND it wasn’t me. That was tough to let go. People still playing when I was not ready to be done. 

Until the point of the finality of nobody else playing, I was mired in the reality of our failure. I slept poorly, I worked poorly, and if you take a vote, I was probably a pretty crappy person to be around. The majority of my waking thoughts dwelt on what we did wrong and what we needed to do to get better.

Once the state title was safely in the books, I relaxed. I started to think optimistically about next year. I started to prepare winter, spring, and summer weight workouts with a hopeful smile on my face.

Did I say I relaxed? Well, apparently, when I relaxed at the end of the season, so did my immune system. About every year, come late November, I would get a God-awful, upper respiratory infection which made my life miserable right up to Christmas. I spent a month every postseason hacking and coughing my way through life. So much for optimism?

Coaching is a weird thing. It gets in your head and worms its way into the marrow of your bones. There are bad things I really don’t miss in the least of which I could rant for hours upon. But the good things and great memories far outweighed the bad and I miss those things dearly. These good things are the things which keep people coaching sports year after year.

Not money, not glory, not the fancy headsets, but the pure joy of competing and coaching young people.

But…as the great Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Putting football things on the shelf.

The pain of letting a season go. The pain of telling those seniors goodbye.

The bumps from slipping back into a normal family life.

Is everyone finally done playing?

Game over. Back to life.

Over. Done with. Gone.

photo (2)

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Name On The Front

You may or may not have heard, but the Kansas City Royals won the 2015 World Series! They out-hustled, out-worked, out-scouted, out-played the Mets to win four games to one. I was happy. I sat in complete bliss watching the postgame celebration late Sunday night and into early Monday morning.

It was fun.

But, as my head hit the pillow a little after 1:00 AM on Monday, November 2, 2015, my thoughts shifted to the one question. That one question that always haunts a coach, “How do we get better?”

In the Kansas City Royals case, “How do they keep winning into 2016 and beyond?”

If you’re looking for a happy, blue-Kool Aid-infused blog post about how awesome everything is and how we should keep the train on the track as is, I apologize in advance. You are going to be pissed off at old Coach Hays. This is going to be a rant about how we can leverage this current success into a long-term success by focusing on the stale, overused team sports saying about playing for the “name on the front of the jersey”.

The secret to the Royals future success and with the associated continuance of your fandom needs to be grounded in this. We need to be Royals fans. Not just Gordon fans, not just Hosmer fans, not just Cain fans, and not just Perez fans. We need to cheer like crazy for the guys on the roster, the guys who go out and play the games every day. AND we need to avoid falling in love with the individual over the team.

Small market or mega-market, professional sports teams have to be smart about how, when and where they spend money. The mega-markets can afford mistakes on long-term, high dollar contracts. The small markets cannot. They have to be willing to part ways with current players and/or parlay a current start into two or three future stars.

That is what I believe Dayton Moore’s as a general manager lies. Don’t get bogged down in heavy, long-term contracts at the expense of your future. Be consistently great by being an organization consistently evolving.

  • Acquire talent.
  • Develop talent.
  • Coach up the talent.
  • Put the talent in a position to win.
  • Deal talent.
  • Repeat.

But, this is tough. It’s tough as a GM to pull the trigger. Okay, you short memory people, remember how ticked off you were last year when they let Billy Butler walk to the A’s. Remember?

The Royals have built an exceptional system under Dayton Moore. It is something I never could or would have believed the Glass family would have committed the resources to a decade ago. They have great scouting on both the talent and game front. They have great assistant coaches and minor league coaches (I forego inclusion of head coach Ned Yost in this list as his greatest asset to the organization is allowing people around him to do their jobs.). They have tapped into Latin America like few other teams did to mine talent.

In short, I trust this management to compete.


Is that all we can ask as fans?

Compete, compete, compete, and then, on occasion, tremendous things will happen as fortune smiles on your endeavors and the baseball gods sprinkle your team with greatness—like the 2015 World Championship.

Don’t be mad at either the player or the management for the Gordo’s, the Salvi’s, the Zobrists, the Hosmers and the Cuetos walking out the door. Remember, they are leaving a whole bunch of awesome memories and results in their wake.

The name on the front, people.

The “now’s” instead of the “has been’s”. The “producers” instead of the “washed-ups”.

Go, Royals!

Thank you to everyone in the organization for 2014 and 2015. It’s been an awesome ride as a fan.

Now, let’s go get 2016!



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#FamFit: Swinging Through November

It’s kind of hard to believe I started this blog in January of 2010 as a record of the daily workouts we did. I had done a similar thing on a Blogger site (coachhays.blogspot.com) since I resigned from football coaching to record the workouts and learn how to blog.  Then along came this thing called “WordPress” and I was intrigued, so I started http://www.coachhays.com.

What began as a record of workouts, rest day reads, and workout songs soon turned into an outlet mainly for my stupidity. This is the 342nd post on The Coach Hays Blog and the stats monkey says there has been 19.008 visitors to the site and 40,344 page views. The stats monkey may be a tad bit skewed as I’d guess about half those numbers might be attributed to my mother. The writing portion of it all started with a silly little serial story called Alien Dog Attack I wrote just to make my mother laugh. She did. After that the stupidity took over and now I rant, rave, tell stories of the olden days, and use the blog to present and discuss things (mainly sports) that are on my mind.

Today, we go back to the roots. Back to training and exercise. Swinging Through November is a workout I’ve done for the past three years and have had others join in for the past two years. The workout is simple. The workout takes 30 minutes a day and can be as hard or as easy as you wish to make it. The important thing is doing something to improve health and/or maintain physical fitness as the daylight hours fade to the darkness of winter.

The workout is simple. We do five weight swings on Day One, followed by a movement for the remainder of 30 minutes. Every day, we add five weight swings. So on Day 30, November 30, we will do a total of 150 swings (I usually break them into sets of 15-20 with minimal rest between sets.) and walk, run, jog, on the road, track, or treadmill for the remaining minutes.

If you don’t know what weight swings are (they are awesome and you should give them a chance.), below is a link to a training video for the exercise from BreakingMuscle.com.

Or try this one by Jeff Martone.

Bonus video of Jeff Martone talking about how to work at flexibility and body position for the swing.

I like the weight swing.  I hope you do too.  It is a great exercise for power endurance. They are great for teaching body control, flexibility and  body awareness. They will work you if you give them the chance.

If you’re new to swings, take it slow. Work technique above the amount of weight.  The beauty is you can use just about any weight you can grip with two hands for this. Plastic gallon jugs, small sandbags, dumbbells, kettlebells, shot puts, rocks, etc. I like my Weider weight plates because of their built-in, open hand grip allows for a good swing grip.

Happy swinging.


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The Work Necessary

The Kansas City Royals are 2015 American League Champions!

The Boys in Blue are in the World Series against the New York Mets!

But a weird thing happened the morning after they won the ALCS over Toronto. Instead of waking up 100% joyful and ready to roll for the Series, I woke up thinking about two plays from ALCS Game 6 and how these two plays spotlight the value of coaches doing the work necessary for their players.

  1. When Alex Rios stole second base against David Price, a left-handed pitcher who allows unbelievably few stolen bases when he is on the mound.
  2. When Lorenzo Cain scored the game-winning run from first base on Eric Hosmer’s double down the right field line.

Both plays, at face value, look totally like big plays made through the exceptional speed and athleticism of those two athletes. But if you look closer, listen to the announcer comments, and the postgame interviews of players and coaches, you begin to see a whole different story.

True, Alex Rios and Lorenzo Cain are two incredibly gifted athletes but that is not what gave them the advantage and confidence to execute those clutch plays on one of the biggest stages of their sport.

What gave both players the edge was the hard work and analysis of the coaches and advanced scouting department.

Yeah. Coaching matters, scouting matters, preparation matters. Hard work IS the magic. Although both plays look to be just a couple of plays of guys running, the amount of time and effort—film study, the scouting report from the scouts following the Blue Jays for the past few months, transfer of that information to the player—are staggering.

Case One – Rios steals second base on a jump he takes off of the first movement home by David Price. Price is difficult to steal on. He’s left handed and although he doesn’t have a great move, he has a quick slide-step delivery which makes it hard for the runner to get an aggressive lead or jump. Scouting appears to have picked up on a tendency for him to sometimes forget about the runner and not give him a “look” when he’s going to pitch the ball to his catcher. For several pitches, he peeks to Rios before delivery to home. On this particular pitch, he doesn’t peek or look to first base and goes straight home, Rios runs on Price’s first movement and is safe with a stolen base–the VERY FIRST stolen base allowed by David Price ALL YEAR. Rios did not end up scoring, but it was a blow to the confidence level of the Blue Jays and added to the pile of things they had to think about.

Scouting, picking up on tendencies, AND being able to relay those details to the player = Makes the game looks easy.


Case Two – Royals third base coach Mike Jirshele and the scouts studied Toronto’s exceptional right fielder, Jose Bautista. They noticed he often fields a ball down the right field line and spins to throw the ball by turning his back toward the infield instead of opening up frontside where he would be able to see the infield all the time. They also noticed he almost always wheels to the blindside and throws the relay to the shortstop positioned around second base.

Coach Jirshele planned on taking advantage of this if, and when, the situation arose. Well, it arose. In fact not only were the players coached this during practices and meetings, but they were given a refresher before game six AND Coach Jirshelle revisited this with Cain and Hosmer BEFORE the inning even started since they were due to bat.


Preparation works.

As a coach, when you watch hours and hours of film or live action, you begin to see patterns. When you rewind and watch a play over and over a dozen times or more, the structure patterns emerge. These patterns become tendencies when put together and analyzed.

  • Tendencies allow a coach to focus preparation.
  • Tendencies allow a coach to focus teaching.
  • Tendencies allow a coach to give his players an edge.

The word “Coach” must be used as a verb, rather than just as a noun. 

As a coach, do the work necessary to put your team in a position to succeed.

Hard work is the magic.



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Everybody Has A Story To Tell

Everybody has a story to tell.


We all just need to tell our story.

In a few weeks, the month-long focus on writing these stories will begin. National Novel Writing Month will run again through the 30 days of November. Better known as NaNoWriMo, this program is an awesome opportunity to write with a support team spread out across this great planet.

We are made to tell stories. It’s coded in the marrow of our being. It has been passed down from generation to generation since the very first time primitive man told the story of the bear “which got away” or told his children about the time he outran a cheetah while crossing the savannah on a Friday night in his youth.

We are story-telling machines.

So, tell your story.


Write your story. Record your story. Just tell your story.

Get it down. Put it some place other than just inside your head.

Don’t worry if it’s good or bad. Quality does not matter—it can be cleaned up later. It can be shined up IF it is down somewhere it can be worked on if you want to.

Don’t worry about it being “good”.  Good is subjective. Besides, you don’t ever have to show your writing to anyone else if you don’t want to.

The power is in your hands.

The power of your story.


We are fortunate to have a local group of supporters for the 2015 NaNoWriMo. We have a local group based out of Manhattan, Kansas. Find out more about NaNoWriMo here. Sign up and take a shot at it.

(In fact, for the first time the Manhattan NaNoWriMo group is having some events at the Clay Center Carnegie Library. Check out the groups Facebook page to stay informed. I plan on attending events when I can and I hope you will too. It is always cool to meet writers of any age, shape, size or skill level. If you like telling stories or would like to learn more about telling stories, please join up or even send me a message.)

Telling your story can be a scary thing. Like coming up to bat with the game on the line or shooting a free throw to win the game, writing becomes easier with people in your dugout or on your bench who believe you can do it. From the Pulitzer Prize winner to the scrambling middle-grade guy writing quirky books he would like to have read when he was young, it is a scary thing to throw your story into the world. Having people to cheer you on, help shine up your work, and/or keep you going when you feel like quitting, is invaluable. The community of writers is awesome. They are out there if you need them.

Write your story.

Don’t worry about “winning”. Worry about writing. Get the words down. Place them somewhere one word at a time, or, as the great Anne LaMott says, write, “bird by bird”. Get it done and get it down. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for four years and have never hit the 50,000-word monthly goal. But, what I have done is set a 30,000+ word foundation for what eventually became three middle-grade novels. Not bad for an old football coach, huh?

I hope to see you write your story.

You know you have a good one rolling around inside your head.

Let it out.

Put it down on paper.

Just write!




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How In The World…?

Another DAVID AND GOLIATH post on one of my favorite football coaching memories.

I learned a valuable lesson about succeeding as the underdog early in my football coaching career. I learned this from our offensive coordinator at the time, Coach Dail Smith. He didn’t sit me down and explain this lesson. It didn’t pop into my head like a light bulb of understanding. I learned this valuable lesson from a short pre-game talk at the 50-yard line of Otto Unruh Stadium with the head coach of our most bitter rival, the Marysville Bulldogs.

As the lowest coach on our program’s coaching totem pole, it was my job to remember to get the VHS trade scout tapes from the equipment box and return them to the opposing coach before the game. (Yes, back in the dark ages, the upcoming opposing coaches would meet on Saturday morning and trade game tapes from the night before and the week before. I imagine the HUDL online system is golden compared to VHS trade tapes.)

Well, I ran the Marysville tapes out to midfield to give back to Coach Warner, who I knew a bit from coaching baseball. I handed him the tapes and said hello. He takes the tapes, smiles and asks, “How in the world do you get high school kids to learn all those plays?”

I said, “Huh?”

“Your playbook must be four inches thick. How do you guys do it?”

“What do you mean?”

“When I charted your plays from these past two games,” he said, handing me our two VHS tapes. “I counted 127 different plays. How in the world…?”

I just shrugged my shoulders and bit my lip to keep from breaking out into a fit of laughter. “I don’t know, coach. I guess our kids are awesome or something.” I told him good luck and ran to our sidelines laughing like a hyena all the way.

Now, I know our kids. They are awesome kids. But they aren’t that awesome (or quite that smart). 127 plays? I still laugh about that to this day and it’s still one of my favorite memories—and coaching lessons.

Simple is better, even if it looks like a Chinese fire drill.

Coach Smith designed an offense to look and act like this big 127 separate play chaotic monster. But, in all actuality, it was a very simple, multiple-look offense. An offense which exploited the best things we did while trying to mask the things we didn’t do well.

Again, David using his advantages to compete against Goliath instead of entering into a disadvantageous matchup.

Well, you may be wondering by now how many plays Coach Smith did have in his playbook. First, I don’t think he ever made a real playbook or did so willingly. But he did scratch out the basics.

The numbers?

We had about 6-8 running plays and a handful of passing plays.

We taught the kids their job on these 15 or so plays until they knew what they were supposed to do like clockwork. Then we ran those plays out of 27 different formations we had that year. And every kid could go to those formations in their sleep because we drilled and drilled and drilled those formations in summer camp and two-a-days until they were blue in the face.

So, when our kids learned their jobs on those 15 plays and compound it with all those formations, I am sure our offense looked like this massive, complex gargantuan playbook. Something that made our opponents spend hours of scouting and practice time covering the hundreds of plays.

Using our tools to be the best we could be.

Just like David against Goliath.

Coach Smith was a wily, old fox, wasn’t he?



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I am a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell. I just like the way he thinks and researches things. He seems to be that kind of interesting person you’d like to talk to on a train ride across the midwest. Like I said in the last post, he might be the actual, living Most Interesting Man In The World.

One of the first articles from Gladwell I read was The Physical Genius (The New Yorker, August 1999). In the article he wrote about advanced gestalt psychology development and vision in great athletes, like Wayne Gretsky and Tony Gwynn, a musician (Yo Yo Ma), and a neurosurgeon, (Dr. Charlie Wilson). These gestalt-exhibiting athletes are able to see and perceived the whole as more than just the collective sum of the parts. Brilliant and thought-provoking stuff. 

In his book,  DAVID AND GOLIATH: UNDERDOGS, MISFITS, AND THE ART OF BATTLING GIANTS, Gladwell explores the underdog and how the underdog often succeeds by taking advantage of what the “giant” sees as disadvantages. Below is a link to a video of Gladwell talking about his spotlight example in the story of David and Goliath. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to watch and listen to this Ted Talk about David and Goliath. He talks about how David took advantage of his slingshot skill to beat the intimidating giant Goliath. The value of a “slinger” is explained in detail. At the very minimum, you will leave this video with a whole new viewpoint about a Bible story we all thought we knew.

Too many people look at things like King Saul:

  • Be like everyone else
  • Operate like everyone else
  • Stick to the convention.

Because of who we ARE, we have to approach things differently. Like I’ve mentioned more than a few times before, we aren’t big, we aren’t particularly fast, we aren’t incredibly naturally talented, but we are who we are. We have to approach things from a non-conventional direction in order to develop into a successful team with the ability to slay the giants we faced. We developed our kids to be SLINGERS to battle the giants. Mobile, agile and able to hit the opponent like a cannon shot all game long.

The successes we had almost always lined up to the times we held tight to the David philosophy and tailored everything to that particular group of kids. Our failures more often than not came when we tried to squeeze square pegs into the round holes of convention. Instead of forcing these kids into our conventions, we should have been kicking down the round-holed-wall and rebuilding it to the necessary specs fitted for the current players.

Now, where’s my slingshot?

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