Milestone Book Anniversaries (When Did I Get So Old?)

It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of Tuck Everlasting.

tuckeverlasting-200x300
Wow!
Tuck Everlasting is one of those books that galvanize readers. One of those books you read (skim) as an obnoxious pre-teen when you knew everything and just wanted to slip a few quick points in the school reading program in order to get a pizza. A book you read again as an adult and it triggers a desire to read all the kidlit you were too cool to read as an obnoxious pre-teen.
A classic.
But is it really 40?
Was I really only 10 when it was published?
Ha! That means it’s timeless also.
Tuck Everlasting isn’t the only awesome book celebrating a recent milestone anniversary. This year, Alice in Wonderland turns 150 and is just as awesome now as it was in 1865.
Last year, Charlie and the Chocolate Factor, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Giving Tree turned 50.

charlie and the chocolate factory
Maybe I’m getting old and tired, but these great, old books stay fresh and vibrant and still find a way to hook readers.
We have all aged well.

1 Comment

Filed under Reads

What is best?

High school-aged kids are going to screw up.  That’s a given.  It is part of being young and stupid.  You think you will not get caught, you think nobody will know or find out, and you think nobody cares.  As a parent and coach, I don’t like it.  I wish kids wouldn’t behave badly. I wish they would make good decisions 100% of the time 24/7.  But they don’t.  The learning curve of life is shaped by mistakes and failures.

But, what do we adults do? Do we turn a blind eye? Do we slap their wrist and tell them not to repeat the bad behavior event? Do we bring the hammer down?

Tough questions. I have no good answer. I don’t like the solution which completely takes away the activity from the kid. In our high school, I felt football kept a great number of our young men coming to school every day (more than any of us wanted to admit). Being part of the team kept them connected. Without the sport and without the team, many of them drifted away.

Paddle

With a sports coach, I like the multi-facet discipline approach to a player in trouble. I think the most effective enforcement comes three directions—the parent, the administrator, and the coaching staff. Not too severe from either direction, but enough to turn the thumb screws and make life in trouble an uncomfortable situation for the kid.

Not easy topics.  Mistakes and punishment are right at the bottom of the list of things coaches want to take care of during a season. But, they happen. They happen more than any of us want to admit. When they do occur, how we handle these issues has a long-term positive or negative impact on the kid. No pressure, right?

I don’t know the way to solve all these problems. High school kids will continue to get in trouble. Are we going to respond in a way the helps the kid in the long run or hurts the kid in the long run?

It’s never easy.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Coaching

Be Fearless

Be fearless.
Make mistakes.
Fail, fail, and fail.
Get up and try again, only better.

Be fearless.
Like when you were a kid.
And had the tiger by the tail.
Take the chance.

Be fearless
Have dreams.
Throw them out there.
Chase them down.

Be fearless
Create your best.
Imagine your finest.
Make your world a better place.

Be fearless.
Live to your dream.
Give until empty.
The world needs it.

Young Super Hero Standing on Laundry Machines

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Coach Hays Rant: Not A Fan

“I’m not going to play this spring (or winter)(or summer) because I’m gonna lift.”

This phrase, when spoken from a high school athlete makes me cringe. I know what it means, I’ve been there. I used this excuse myself as a senior in high school and didn’t go out for wrestling. Here is the interpretation that enters my brain through the coach translation area of my cerebral cortex when I hear that phrase from a high school kid.

I don’t want to play __________ because I really don’t want to work that hard.

95% of the kids I’ve heard the “I’m going to lift” mantra from fail at this goal miserably. Sure, they show up in the weight room, but very little work gets done.

Rings

I admit I’m not a fan of the recent rise in the high school sport of powerlifting. Sure, it’s all pretty cool, but is it doing justice to our athletes? Are we pushing kids into powerlifting participation (even though it’s not a sanctioned competitive sport by the state athletic association) at the expense of other sports they could, and should, be participating in? Is powerlifting becoming the focus over the actual sports a high school offers?

Truth is you get better at sports by playing sports. The training component is vital, but it is still just a component. Playing multiple sports gives one an edge in physicality, in conditioning, and in competitiveness, which is such an important component, yet so overlooked. Give me eleven young, high school men who know how to compete and I will knock the mother-loving socks off your 300 lb. bench pressers who spend 8 months of their year lifting.

Plate

Explosive power development requires speed, agility, quickness, and strength. That strength is a certain type of strength—an explosive strength derived from a specific technical approach. Like I’ve said many times before, I want to develop bullets rather than bowling balls. Powerlifting as the primary focus does not build athletes. Period.

Moral of the story…play a sport whenever you can. It is the best “big picture” thing you can do. Don’t get stuck on the one particular tree and forget all about the forest.

  • The first step is to compete.
  • The second step is to practice with an approach to improve.
  • The third step is to attack a well-rounded physical training program to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  • The fourth step…enjoy the ride.
  • The fifth step is to repeat steps one through four as often as possible.

Time is precious. Make the most of every tick of the clock and work to be the best you that you can be.

Hard work is the magic.

Rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

1 Comment

Filed under Rants, Training

Pitchers and Catchers

“Put me in coach. I’m ready to play.” – Centerfield by John Fogerty

Pitchers and catchers.

This is a magic phrase for an old baseball soul. The phrase “pitchers and catchers” uttered through weather-chapped lips tosses fuel on our ever-shrinking flicker of summer hope, which has struggled to survive the cold, dark times of winter, to become a flame once again. Baseball season has officially begun.

I can feel it. Spring is on the horizon. Baseball is coming. The past month, the weather has been rough. I know it’s winter. I know it’s Kansas. But, seriously, single digit temperatures? With below zero windchills? And an obnoxiously mediocre amount of snow which does nothing positive except make life more miserable.

But, we had a a few highly uncommon, 50-degree January days recently and the grip of Winter on our hearts and our souls is loosed. The local baseball folks have emerged on perfect cue from forced hibernation with a series of text messages, phone calls, and meetings being scheduled on the upcoming baseball season.

It’s almost time. The official Town Crier of Spring, dressed in his regal best, stands tall and proud and proclaims the battle cry throughout the land, “Pitchers and catchers!”

Put me in coach. I AM ready to play.

HomePlate0115

Leave a comment

Filed under Rants, Training, Writes

Hurry-Up Defense

I think I heard the on the radio the other morning, that in the College Football Playoff Semifinal game between Oregon and Florida State, the high-speed offense of Oregon averaged around 11 seconds between plays when the game was still competitive. That’s fast. The sports radio talk show hosts then reported when the Ducks built a big lead and went into a slow-down, time-killing mode, they averaged about 20 seconds between plays. That’s faster than most team’s normal speed!

This high-speed mode killed Florida State. They couldn’t keep up with the speed of the game. The Seminole defense looked confused, tired, and made one mistake after another. That is what these uber-speed offenses attempt to do in this age of modern defensive football predicated on match-ups and substitution packages. The high-speed offense does not allow the defense to adjust; it finds a weakness in a certain defense, either schematic or personnel, it pushes the limits.

I had a conversation with one of my coaching offensive mastermind friends, Coach Larry Wallace, about the offensive performance of Oregon. Both of us were impressed with the speed at which the Ducks ran their offense. Being a defensive minded, former football coach, I was intrigued about how a defense can counteract the up-tempo offense.

Me: “It has me thinking about how to develop a hurry-up defense that is proactive instead of reactive.”

Coach Wallace: “Yeah, good luck.”

Me: “Amen, brother!”

Seriously, is there a solid defensive scheme you can think of to consistently shift the power to dictate the game from the hurry-up offense back to where it belongs–in the hands of the defense? If you have any ideas, please share.

I think the key is to play an aggressive, ball-attack defense through a fairly set package of personnel, not one which relies on massive substitutions. We would need to develop athletes physically to play at this speed (See how Oregon approaches this in my Bullets Over Bowling Balls post from 2012.). A very important point to consider with any scheme in any sport is this—one cannot expect to play the game at a certain speed if they do not train and practice to play the game at that certain speed.

Following in the footsteps of Coach Paul Lane, I would first attempt to dictate the flow of the game from the defensive end. The defensive scheme would involve multiple fronts and alignments with a minimal of responsibilities for each position. Basically, each player would have one job on a run play and one job on a pass play, and that job would be the same no matter what the defensive alignment, or front, looked like. I would try to punch the offense in the mouth by hitting harder, hitting more often, and wearing them down one man at a time all game. Every man wins their job on every play.

The spread and speed offenses usually have a run/pass option depending on the number defenders in the box. It’s a numbers game. If they read they have more blockers than defensive linemen and linebackers in the box, they can call a run play. If defense has a numbers advantage in the box, the pass play is chosen. A good defensive scheme could align in such a way to force the offense into one option or the other. The defenders would need to understand this concept to allow for the advantage of what plays to expect.

Oregon Duck Zone Read

Pressure the offense, particularly the QB, from multiple angles and with the goal of corralling the offense into a small space. Face it, if you’ve watch much hurry-up offense, they are designed to get athletes in space and into one-on-one match-ups they think they can win. I think I would try to minimize this offensive advantage by forcing them to beat me by doing things outside their comfort zone.

For secondary coverage schemes, I would develop physical man coverage techniques first and foremost in all our training with these athletes. In game planning, use man coverage schemes and match-up zone schemes as a general rule. The important thing is to realize how an offense with attack each coverage scheme and convey these tendencies to your secondary personnel.

One of the great enjoyments of the game of football is this mental and strategic side of the game. Even though I don’t actively coach football any more, I still love to think about the game. When I watch a game on television or in person, I am constantly watching for blocking schemes, formation tendencies, blitz packages, etc. Watching the Oregon Ducks this past week triggered the defensive coach in me to figure out how I’d develop a hurry-up defense to try and stop this potent offense.

If you have any ideas, feel free to comment below.  There are definitely more than one way to skin a cat. I am pretty sure there will be a Part 2 to this Hurry-Up Defense post, maybe even a :Part 3, 4, or 5.

The “What if we tried this?” is one of my favorite parts of coaching and training athletes.

And in my humble opinion, that is the fun of football!

Leave a comment

Filed under Training

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized