Motivation is the key to a solid foundationFootball coaches are responsible for a countless number of athletes — some manage a group of 60 or more. And if you want to guarantee your best team steps on the field in the fall, you have to spend time getting to know each one during the spring and summer.
It’s the only way to start the season on a solid foundation.“At the end of the previous season, I sit down with each and every kid in our program individually,” said Joe Headen, head football coach at Susquehanna Township High School (Pennsylvania). “My goal is to have continued rapport with returning athletes and build relationships with new athletes.
“Once I get to know them and get to know what motivates them, I know how to help them achieve their goals.”
Headen takes and individual approach and a small group approach. Some of his athletes are motivated by aggression, while others are motivated by calm conversations.
After a win, he encourages athletes to enjoy the moment but begin preparing for their next opponent. After a loss, it’s important to find a few positives in their performance.
“When it comes time to watch film, you realize that you’re never as good as you thought you were and never as bad as you perceived yourself to be,” Headen said. “If you win, there’s always things you can do better. But if you lose a game, you can go back and see that maybe you’re only a few plays away from success.”
Here are some of the motivational tactics Headen uses throughout the season.
“Thank God It’s Monday.” Coach Headen is a big fan of Eric Thomas and his “Thank God It’s Monday” motivational videos.
Weekly words. Each week, a new word is used to motivate athletes. Week one was “attitude” and week two was “discipline.” Everything the coaches do and say — whether it’s on the practice field or the way they approach things in the weight room — revolves around the weekly word.
Season theme. Players at Susquehanna Township High School have learned to “respect the process” and trust in it. Coach Headen and his staff encourage athletes to buy in for continued success.
And like most coaches, he relies on motivational speeches on game days.
“As coaches, we try to find ways to motivate our kids,” Headen said. “Whether we’re in the inner city or rural parts of America, we find ways to connect with our kids. That’s why we do what we do.”
“It’s like an addiction. How many kids can I help? How many kids can I motivate? I want to help as many kids as I can be successful, and motivation allows me to do that.”