Monthly Archives: April 2016

Getting Technical

I read an article about a 6’ 8” college basketball player who decided this spring to switch and play football at the same college. The football coaches were working to refine his big man basketball skills toward the goal of being an offensive tackle. It was a very interesting article and kind of reinforced my belief there are certain common physical movements which exist between sports.

The head football coach made a comment that the staff didn’t mind working with such a green athletes because many of their actual football recruits also show up with no, or very little, fundamental technical skill from the high school level. I about choked. It made me mad at first, but then I remembered how many times over the past five or so years I’ve noticed this lack of fundamentals in action at high school football games I’ve watched.

How can this be? Is teaching solid technical proficiency becoming a lost coaching art?

Fundamental technique is the building block on which winning programs are built. In baseball and football coaching, everything, for me, revolved around developing solid technical skills. Being sound technical offensive and defensive linemen allowed us to overcome a general lack of size, speed, and athleticism in order to compete almost every time we stepped on the field.

Years ago, one rival baseball coach asked me once how it was that our kids all seemed to be able to drive the ball on the line to all fields. I told him the truth. I told him we teach front-hand hitting technique and every, single thing we do in practice, in the cage and on the field is geared toward developing a consistent technical swing. He looked at me like I was nuts, shook his head and laughed as he walked back to his dugout.

At football coaching clinics, I always got a kick out of the “progressive” coaches who talked nothing but schemes and theories while laughing behind the old, highly successful coaches who talked about fundamentals and drills and perfection. Simple science.

By Snyder, Frank R. Flickr: Miami U. Libraries - Digital Collections [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Snyder, Frank R. Flickr: Miami U. Libraries – Digital Collections [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps it is too simple for some to understand.

It is not magic.

It is not simply innate ability.

It is hard work. And teaching. And holding the line. And being strict. And demanding. And sometimes being completely unlikeable to the players.

It is pushing to get better every day.

Technique matters. It’s not sexy or shiny or going to make a big splash, but…

Technique matters.

It gives you an advantage. Good fundamental technique and good preparation give the advantage of an extra step. In sports, even at the lowly high school level, this single step can be the difference between winning and losing. Being fundamentally sound gives your team the edge over an opponent of equal or lesser quality and levels the playing field somewhat against a superior opponent.

Make the commitment. Get technical and get better.

By Royalbroil (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Royalbroil (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under Coaching, Training


Athletes are, and should be, held to a higher standard. It is a price to be paid for the opportunity to participate. You, as an athlete, a coach, or a fan, owe the game much, much more than the game will ever owe you. As Coach Lane used to say, “Faith, family, and football is a game we are fortunate enough to be able to play.”

There are few areas where the modern athletes, especially the young, high school athlete, must hold themselves accountable to a higher standard than in the realm of social media. The ability to send our thoughts and ideas into the public realm is greater than it has ever been in the history of mankind. It’s instantaneous. It’s far-reaching. It can be a slippery slope.

Social media is great because it connects us like we have never been connected before and gives us an audience. Social media is bad because it connects us like we have never been connected before and gives us an audience. In short, social media is a double-edged sword. It can been used in a positive manner as easily as it can be used as a negative.

Parents, coaches and administrators need to develop a social media plan and convince players and teammates to abide by the plan. Creating the best tribe possible should be the underlying goal of everything we do as coaches and athletes. Social media is part of being in the tribe. Three things to remember about being a good tribe teammate.

  • What is good for the tribe is good for you too.
  • The jabs you take at the tribe are as damaging and as senseless as punching your own self.
  • Impact your tribe positively with your actions. In Coach Hays words, don’t crap in your own nest.

Social media is permanent. Your post is given a life. Your friends and followers see it. They like it or share it and your post is opened up to all the friends and followers of your friends and followers. The social reach can be extended to layer upon layer upon layer—even if you deleted your original post 30 seconds after posting it. Social media has permanence.

A good guidepost for social media, which is also a good guidepost for general life, is to not say anything to someone on social media or about someone on social media that you would not say if you were standing face to face to them.

Be true.

Be honest.

Be real.

But do it while playing nice.

Use your social media spectrum for good. The Mrs. Coach Hays, in her infinite wisdom on such matters dealing with young people, often reminds me of the credo, “Positive in public, negative on your own time.”

Be who you are, but put your best face toward the rest of humanity.

Finally, as the venerable Coach Melvin Cales used to tell his son and my college roommate, Monty, after Sunday visits to our college town where Coach Cales’s mother lived, “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read about in the paper.”

A great lesson to guide your social footprint.

And a great life lesson to boot.

Social wise, my friends. 


By Ibrahim.ID [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under Coaching, Rants