THIS IS MY FIRST “GUEST BLOG ARTICLE.”
Thank you Coach Weber for this two part article. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow. If any other regular readers are interested in sharing your thoughts about football, leadership, athletics, etc. please send me an article/blog you would like to have posted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEEKLY GAME GOALS CRUCIAL TO WINNING
Every week, every football team in America has one goal in mind. That goal is plain and simple: WIN! We go as far as to say that our goal each week is to go 1-0 so that our players stay focused on the task and don’t overlook an opponent.
Seven years ago, my assistants and I were hammering out what goals we had for the season and what goals we should have for each week beyond just winning. We all agreed that we should have goals on each side of the ball that were crucial to us being successful each week.
Like every football coach in America does, we first thought about your typical goals such as having a 100 yard rusher, 150 passer, 100 yards rushing as a team, or holding the other team to 200 yards of total offense. You’ll see these numerical types of goals tacked on bulletin boards in locker rooms of a great number of football teams across the nation.
Our discussion quickly led into how many times you could win and not meet any of those numerical goals. This happened quite frequently under the previous coach. The previous coach won a great number of ball games, but the weekly game goals beyond winning were usually left unchecked. Were these goals really the critical factors in winning ball games? It would happen that most of those goals typically dealt with statistics. The biggest problem with those goals was they violated the basic premise of a good goal. Good goal should be realistic, achievable, and an essential part of the process to achieve desired outcome.
One of my more seasoned assistants relayed to us his experience as an assistant basketball coach under a head coach who created more subjective goals which he felt were much more conducive to what actually wins a game. For example, this basketball coach had goals of not allowing a bucket immediately before the end of each period which would not allow the other team momentum going into the break rather than having specific goals on field goal percentage or free throw percentage.
I was immediately convinced that having those type of subjective goals could be very beneficial.
What it really boiled down to is that all of traditional statistical game goals were purely outcome goals. Outcome goals are ones that our players had no real control of and really did not define in our minds what we absolutely had to do to win. We could put down 200 yards rushing at a team, but that was just a number. It wasn’t part of the essential process of winning. What we needed were process goals. Process goals are those which our team had control of. The process goals that we created would be ones that we knew were tantamount to victory. They would allow us to focus on things that we must do to win without getting caught up in statistical analysis. We were football coaches not analysts!
After much debate, my staff and I came up with 14 goals that were measurable, but had little to do with statistics and everything to do with winning.
GOAL #1 WIN
Given what I just said about process goals being important, it is probably hypocritical that I start out with the ultimate outcome goal of winning. That being said, winning is our ultimate objective and the one outcome goal we should have. I will take an ugly win long before a pretty loss. I am intensively competitive. I make no bones about the fact that I want to win every time we step on the field. I try to instill that same attitude in our kids. If we accomplish this goal, then our week was a success.
GOAL #2: WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE (+2 or better)
We felt like this was a great goal that encompassed each side of the ball. It focused us on protecting the football as well as creating turnovers. That focus on ball control coupled with our program philosophy to “Scoop & Score” every loose ball and not just falling on fumbles has won a lot of ball games.
GOAL #3: WIN THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE
Again, this was another great goal for us on both sides of the ball. We feel like if our offensive and defensive line can control the line of scrimmage then we obviously have a great opportunity to win. We only check this box if we feel like we win on both sides of the ball. Some may say that this is hard to measure. I would submit that you know if you whipped someone’s tail or not. If it is debatable whether you won the line of scrimmage in the least, then you can chalk that up as a loss.
GOAL #4: WIN THE 4th QUARTER
Winning the fourth quarter has always been a focus for every football team I have ever coached. No matter what happens in the game, I have always told our teams that winning the fourth quarter is one of our paramount goals. Coach Fore recently tweeted a pulpit message from his pastor that the most worthless score in sports is the halftime score. I complete agree. I think your play in the second half especially the fourth quarter will often prove how successful of football team you have.
GOAL #5: FIRST DOWN ON EVERY SERIES
We desperately want to avoid a three and out situation. We are a very ball-control oriented offense and definitely seek to protect our defense against the plethora of spread offenses popping up in every nook and cranny of football. We felt like getting a first down on every series would lead to successful drives. Recently I read an interesting view of football from a former NFL personnel staffer who equated offensive football to four battles of a 10 yard war with a reset. I thought it was a genius analysis. Getting that first down is crucial to getting that reset of your offense and put your whole playbook in your hands.
GOAL #6: HAVE MORE EXPLOSIVE PLAYS THAN OUR OPPONENT (Runs over 10 yards / Passes over 15 yards)
Although we run a grind-it-out offense, we felt like our ability to have explosive plays was extremely important. We also felt if we were in a slugfest with an opponent that limiting explosive plays was also crucial.