This is a guest post by Coach Brian Danforth.  I really, really liked this article when I read it.  You can find his blog here.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The day that I decided that I wanted to coach high school football. I set out to find a coaching job at any one of the local high schools. I was hired at the first school that I interviewed at, and I thought that it was the best day ever… and I was right.

This day however, was not that long ago. I have been a coach for a little over two years now. I was hired in January of 2014. Now, I sit in front of my computer in March of 2016. It has been a roller coaster, to say the least. I have encountered situations in these two short years that I thought I might never be faced with in my career. With that being said, I’m going to give you some tips that I wish someone would have given me as a rookie coach.

  1. Be yourself: This seems simple enough, right? Wrong. I have been around coaches who tried to be somebody that they’re not. They never last at any program very long. If you are more of laid back guy who likes to calmly ask your guards while they pulled into each other, then calmly ask them if they know their left from their right. If you are a guy who blows his top when two guards pull into each other, then blow your top. However, if you are this guy, your blood pressure will often spike and you will begin to see black dots. If you count to 10 and shove some more sunflower seeds in your mouth, the dots will go away and your blood pressure will return to normal in approximately 15-20 seconds. You cannot hide who you are. The kids will see right through it. I promise you. It’s amazing how a 17-year-old kid can see right through the bull crap
  1. Do not assume the players know anything: This is a terrible mistake. Trust me, I did it. “Hey Johnny, get in a 3 technique when we go to our team period” Johnny responds “Yes sir!” in a very enthusiastic manner, as if he’s ready to spilt double teams and spill traps until the cows come home! And then… you go to your team period, ready to see Johnny in action. You fumble to get a bag of sunflower seeds out of your pocket, feeling confident that Johnny is about to wreck shop on that offensive line. You shove the seeds in your mouth, and before you have time to suck the salt off of them, a whistle blows. Your heart stops. You think to yourself “please be in a 3 Johnny.” You look up slowly. Your head coach is giving you the stare of death. You finally see Johnny… lined up at corner.


  1. Kids say the darndest things: That’s all you can do, my friend. Just laugh it off. Because I can promise you this, within your first three months on the job you will hear some of the most outrageous excuses you’ve ever heard. But the alarming part is, 90% of the time their tall tale is true. You will hear things like this. Christopher says “Coach, I ‘m gonna be late to practice because I gotta go home real quick and check on my dog because he ate my homework last night and my mom can’t do it because she’s diving with dolphins and my dad can’t do it because he’s asleep and my sister can’t do it because she has to go on a mission to Brazil with the F.B.I.” And I guarantee you that if you call Christopher’s mom and dad, this story will check out to be 99% factual. The only part that won’t be true is the F.B.I. mission that his sister is going on, it’s actually in Bolivia, not Brazil.
  1. They don’t want a history lesson: This can be hard for a new coach. Especially when you are trying to win over your players. But trust me on this one, they do not care. Honestly, they more than likely don’t care if you ever played football a day in your life. They just want to know that you care. Once they know that you care, then they will take a listen. Until then though, avoid the following phrases or anything similar.

– “Back in ‘82, I could throw a pigskin a quarter mile.”

– “If we would have made the playoffs my senior year, we would have won state.”

– “I scored the game winner against (insert rival here).”

– “I had 187 tackles, 12 interceptions, and 3 passing TD’s and I played defensive line.”

  1. Sunflower seeds 101: Refer back to Numbers 1 and 2 and you’ll notice that I mention sunflower seeds in both. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Now, that you have seen how frequently they are mentioned, you are probably getting a sense that they are important. And you would be correct. They are a lifeline, as a matter of fact. So, let me tell you first the benefits of these delicious and salty treats, and then I will tell you how to maximize your consumption.

-Benefits: There will be times when you want to scream, times when you want to cry, times when you want to administer The People’s Elbow. What does this have to do with sunflower seeds, you ask? Well, the things I just listed are often frowned upon. And The People’s Elbow will probably get you fired, and get you a lawsuit. So, instead of risking your job, just eat some seeds.

-Maximizing Consumption: No matter what program you are with, there will be criminals. Yes, criminals. Coaches that have been convicted. Convicted of seed stealing, which in my book is a felony. Now, since your head coach likely not prosecute these dirty thieves, here is how you deal with them. The first couple weeks on the job, bring three or four different flavors of seeds to practice. Be generous. Offer them to all of the coaches. Determine which flavor they turn their nose up at the most. BUY THAT FLAVOR. You will still have some coaches who still ask for seeds because they are filthy addicts just looking to score their next cheek full, but you will disperse less seeds in the long run, therefore, increasing your consumption.

I hope these few tips can help you out. Not only do rookie coaches need to know these five very important rules, veteran coaches need to be reminded of the basics every now and then as well. I hope you enjoyed this read. Feel free to comment and share! There will be plenty more to come!