I call them (clinics) Disneyland!
I love going to clinics. I always have. I’ll never, ever forget the first clinic I went to. John Carroll from Oceanside High School (Southern California) is a legend in this state. He took his team to more than twenty-one consecutive CIF San Diego Semi Final appearances, (won thirteen of them), and won two State Championships in the years that we had a State Championship system, which was towards the last part of his career. Well, I stepped on the elevator to go to my room, and there was THE Coach Carroll. Of course I didn’t talk to him! I was a shy, young coach who had no idea what to say.
Boy I wish I had those few minutes back!
I call clinics “Disneyland for coaches” because that is how I see them. It’s a really great time for coaches. Some of the best times I had with my staffs as a Head Football Coach were piling in to a few cars, and spending the weekend together at a clinic. Those weekends helped to shape the coming season, in many ways.
Clinics are not merely a rendezvous; it’s an experience that evokes the same wonder and excitement as stepping foot into the Magic Kingdom. The camaraderie fostered during these weekends is unparalleled. I recall with fondness the camaraderie with my staff, piling into cars, and immersing ourselves in a clinic weekend. Those shared moments were the crucible in which our strategies for the upcoming season were forged.
Here are 4 ideas from someone who has attended clinics for more than 20 years.
Shake some hands
The missed chance to extend a handshake to Coach Carroll and Coach Bob Ladouceur of De La Salle lingers as a poignant lesson in my coaching odyssey. What profound wisdom could I have gleaned from a brief exchange with these coaching titans? The mantra, therefore, is simple – shake some hands. My pilgrimage to the American Football Coaches Association Convention about 7 years ago in Nashville reaffirmed this principle. Every opportunity to greet a fellow coach is a thread in the tapestry of networking, weaving connections that could manifest into future opportunities. Collect business cards and phone numbers as if they were precious gems, for in the coaching realm, connections are currency.
Take good notes
There are two types of coaches at clinics. Those who take notes, and those who do not. There really is no in between here. You are either taking notes to refer back to later, or you are not. Even if you think that the talk you are in isn’t helpful, take notes! Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log. You never know when those notes will come in helpful. Sure enough, you’re going to remember some key points of the talk, and refer back to “that one clinic with the guy who taught about offensive linemen, and that one drill he did.” You thought that you had it memorized, but now it is August, and that was a lifetime ago. Take notes.
Look for a few golden nuggets
One of the first Head Coaches I worked for told me at my first clinic “just look for 3-4 things that we can talk about on Monday. Don’t get overwhelmed.” He was right. I took probably 70 pages of notes at that first clinic. So many great ideas, so many great plays, so many great improvements that we could make.
But as time goes on, and you become who you are as a coach, and as you solidify your xs and os, the clinics can become more of a place to just network, and not learn. Many coaches get arrogant, and “know everything.” But I’m convinced that we can never quit learning. There will always be something that you can learn, that you can take away to your program. Look for those golden nuggets to take back home. They are there.
Presence is a virtue, especially at clinics.
One of my favorite coaches, Coach Gundy from Oklahoma State, was speaking at the AFCA Convention this year. I had to leave early to catch my flight home. I was blown away at how many coaches (most of them on the younger end) were outside in the hallways on their phones. Not talking on their phones, but just on their phones. Maybe texting, or answering an important email, I don’t know. But there were 100s of coaches missing out on a dynamite talk by Gundy.
What was so important on their phone that couldn’t wait? I suspect that many were just out there in the hallways on their phones because they have a hard time just being present in the here and now. Check in, and be present at the clinic.
2024 Orange County Playbook Clinic Speaking Times
I always enjoy speaking at clinics and conferences. There is a new clinic coming through Southern California, and many other parts of the Nation. They have 15 clinics around the Nation in 2024.
The Orange County one is at the Irvine Marriot the weekend of January 26-28.
Title: How to Build A Championship Resume
Time: Friday, January 26, 4:30:00 PM
Title: How to Become A Great Assistant Coach
Time: Friday, January 26, 6:30:00 PM