This article is geared towards the coaches who enjoy our site and read our blog. I am sure there are many coaches out there that are not enjoying a winning season which can be very frustrating! There can be several factors that influence winning and losing. Of these factors there are two that a high school or youth coach can not control and these would be:
The question that many coaches ask themselves when faced with one or both of these uncontrollable factors is how can they compensate for them? The answer to that question is simple and it is summed up in what I call compensatory preparation. Great coaches will never use these two factors as a reason for failure. Every obstacle can be overcome with the proper preparation. Coaches who fail to understand this principle are often the one’s that will use these factors as excuses for losing.
Notice how I stated in the opening paragraph “several factors that influence winning and losing”. The key word in that sentence is influence. The reason I use the word influence is because these factors do make it more difficult to enjoy success but they absolutely do not determine it! As coaches we often reiterate to our players to not use excuses, made famous by the phrase “excuses are like _________, everyone has one and they all stink! I don’t think I need to go into any more detail than that as we’ve all heard that phrase! As coaches we must practice what we preach! If we use the factors I’ve listed as excuses we are being hypocritical to what we teach our players!
Let me give you an example of how compensatory preparation can overcome lack of talent specifically. Let’s say a team is very weak and inexperienced on the offensive line. Every week this team faces opponents with far superior defensive fronts. No matter how much that team prepares for certain stunts and obtains knowledge of the opponent’s tendencies and so forth, there is one fact that can’t be overcome and that is lack of talent. You can X and O until the cows come home and have your players prepared but if, man for man, they just aren’t good enough what do you do?!
The best way to overcome lack of talent is to prepare by way of deception. Offensively this can be done via multiple formations, motions, and situational play calling. Defensively this can be done via disguise. An example of offensive deception would be to line up in a running formation such as two backs in the backfield, a tight end, and two receivers on first down and then executing a play action pass. On first down, out of this formation, the offense is showing run on a down that is predominantly a run down. The chance that a superior defensive front will rush expecting a pass is greatly minimized. This takes a great deal of pressure off of the offensive front. Defensively, disguising coverages and fronts can be equally effective. For a good offensive coordinator there is nothing easier than knowing exactly what coverage a defense will be running on every down.
Overcoming injuries can be done by thoroughly preparing back-up players to play. Way too often I have seen high school coaches giving far too many reps to the first team players versus the second team players. Both need to be prepared equally in my estimation and it’s a philosophy I have adhered to and had much success with. It can be done but it just takes more time and effort to make it happen. To prepare for success you MUST prepare for worst case scenarios!
To summarize, lack of talent and injuries can be overcome by creating game plans that are deceptive and unpredictable as well as thoroughly preparing back-up players. Coaches have the responsibility to put their players in the best position to succeed. Coaches must understand how to prepare their team even in the face of uncontrollable factors and they should never use these as excuses for failure!
Coach Van Tassel