June 27, 2016 • Football

Three invaluable qualities of football coaches

The most important qualities of football coaches relate to the culture they set and the actions they take away from the playing field. Even the most successful football coaches understand the game isn’t all about Xs and Os. To build a cohesive, winning program, it’s just as much about what they do when the clock isn’t ticking.

Here are a few things to keep in mind throughout your coaching career.

1. Life-long learner.

Regardless of the conference championships or state titles you might have won, the pursuit of knowledge must never end. Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said regardless of the level you coach, success can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Once coaches achieve it, they think they’ve “arrived.”

“As more success happens, most young guys let that get in the way,” Harsin said. “You think you’re the man and all that, and then you get humbled.

“But when you get a taste of learning, you try to master it and it becomes a chase and that’s where the fun comes in. Chasing that mastery is what drives myself and a lot of guys in our program.”

Harsin and others recommend attending clinics, reading books and watching other coaches to build your library of knowledge.

2. Building relationships.

Players will fight for a coach who cares for them, so building positive relationships with your young athletes is critical. That means learning about their hobbies, friends and families.

“Your impact on these peoples’ lives, that’s going to last forever and it’s something we (as coaches) can do,” Harsin said.

Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham said the job is about people as much as it is football. Coaches that don’t make an effort to connect with players — or fellow coaches — will ultimately notice a decline on the field.

“You’ve got to be part psychologist,” he said, “and that’s just part of dealing with players, motivating them and trying to figure them out.”

3. Careful planning.

You game plan for your opponents, but don’t forget to blueprint your program from top to bottom. Consider what each of your coaches are responsible for, how you will structure your practices, and when you’ll meet individually with staff and players.

Whittingham believes all coaches should have their own master plan, detailing where they want to go and how they expect to get there. It’s something he learned from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

“He’s a master organizer,” he said. “He had a plan for all the day-to-day football operations. I can tell you pretty much where I’m going to be on any day from now to the next 365 days and what we’re going to be doing with pretty good accuracy.”

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