I wrote this vision for my football program in 2003, upon taking over as the Head Coach at Linfield Christian in Temecula, California. I’ve been a Head Coach for eight years here in Southern California; this is the Vision that I’ve used to direct my football program. It is important that you have a vision for your football program; that that vision is written and clearly explained to all of your stakeholders.
The vision for my football program is called “The Four Ps.” The four Ps are: positive experience, player-centered environment, protection of health, and public perception. These four Ps are the focus of our coaching staff on an annual basis, and we constantly are brought back to them as a source of direction for us. This vision has been created to hold up for all to see, to use as a measuring stick for our program. The vision for our program is centered on our players first and foremost.
The players are the most important part of the program, and why we are coaching the sport and spending so much time investing in the lives of our student-athletes.
Our vision of positive experience means that I want for each and every person that is a part of this program to enjoy their time as a part of the program because of the fun environment that the coaching staff has created. This vision means that players enjoy being a part of the program; they look forward to being a part of the program. Football is a tough sport that is not meant for everybody! Football demands a lot of time, and a lot of dedication, much more so than many other sports because of the physical demands.
Because football is inherently tough, it can be a grind to get through the season. I want our players to have a positive experience. I want them to be treated fairly so that their experience is positive. This does not always happen because some kids are just not built to be football players. They are either mentally or physically too weak to handle the demands. However, I want for my program to be positive overall. I want our equipment managers, our team doctor, stat people, etc. to have a positive experience as a part of the football program that I manage.
Varsity football players only have a few years of the entire life to play varsity football.
Mainly, it is for juniors and seniors. Therefore, I want the program to be about the kids, not about me as the head coach, or my coaching staff. The vision of having a player-centered environment means that the student-athlete should feel that they play the most important role of the program. The coaching staff should help to create a democratic type of setting so that players buy into the program because they believe in it because they know that the coaches believe in them. It is one big circle. One way that I carry out this vision is by having a Player Committee.
This Player Committee is selected in January of each year and is made up of anywhere from four to eight players that meet with me on a regular basis. The committee is selected by the players themselves, and is made up of kids from every grade in the program, not just seniors. The goal of this committee is to be a voice from the players to the coaches. They are simply a mouthpiece from the players to the coaches and from the coaches to the players. They help to decide on what will be in the spirit pack for the year, the colors of the shirts, what color of cleats we will wear, etc. They even help to develop the off season calendar and the requirements for participation in the off season in order to play football. The reason that I have the player committee make these decisions is so that they will take complete ownership of the program, to create a player centered environment.
Another part of the vision is called protection of health. This means that the coaching staff needs to create a safe place to play what can be a violent contact sport. This starts with the proper training of coaches. Our coaches are mandated to have certain certifications like American Red Cross First Aid and CPR training, and the National Federation of High Schools Coaching Certification. This training helps to give our coaches a bigger picture of liability and professionalism. Our coaches are also trained on a regular basis by attending clinics in the offseason to learn the best practices in our business.
Having the necessary equipment to keep our players healthy is key to fulfilling this part of the vision. Our equipment is maintained every off season in an effort to remove any faulty helmets or shoulder pads from the inventory. Helmets must meet a certain standard set forth on the national level. We have recently created a Risk Management Plan that has been a great tool in helping us to provide the protection of health for our student-athletes. Another piece of this vision is a safe playing surface. The coaching staff must always look out for the safety of the player when considering when and where to play. Fields should be examined by the coaching staff before playing or practicing on them. Next in line would be appropriate medical personnel available for our student-athletes and coaches. I always want to have a Certified Athletic Trainer on my staff in an effort to give our players the best possible health care available.
Finally, we come to the last P of the vision for this football program. It represents public perception. This means that we want for people in our community and the communities that we visit to have a positive view of my football program, and the school I’m working at. When we walk away from our team meal before a game, I hope that the servers at that restaurant think to themselves “Wow, that was the most impressive group of high school football players that have ever been here.” When we ride on a bus, I want for that bus driver to know that we are a great bunch of citizens. I want him or her to have a positive view of our school because of how we acted on the bus. The same goes for the fans of the teams that we play. I don’t want them to be able to say that we were a cheap bunch of such and suches. The vision is for our opponents to walk away from our game having had a positive experience playing our team.