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Chalk Talk: Discussion: Player Discipline (The Little Things)

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So, here I was sitting at the local watering hole last night after we wrapped up a ten team camp. All ten teams coaches were at said watering hole and we were all talking about the weeks events. I got in some conversations about discipline and how important it is and how winning teams have traditionally had it and the other teams, well, haven't.

It seemed like that opinion was almost unanimous amongst coaches. When I brought up the Miami Hurricanes of old, I was countered... Which is strange considering I'm a Canes guy... The counter was simple, and here it is, paraphrased:

Miami was allowed to do whatever they wanted on the field, or at least they appeared to... But the bottom line was they were a unified group. Jimmy Johnson had full control of those Hurricane teams, but he knew he was fighting a losing battle by trying to throw too much discipline at an entire team. So instead he disciplined around those things and created a monster. Those players respected Jimmy Johnson. His color didn't matter. He was a part of their team and they knew it and they believed in him.

Hmmm... Impressive anecdote... I bought it. It's not the way I run things, but it worked.

Conversations shifted to teams in our area and why some had been successful and some hadn't.

I brought up the point that every team that I had coached that had been successful was disciplined. From dress code to play on the field. If everyone didn't have long white socks on game day, none of us wore long white socks, we all went short.

If someone was wearing the wrong color undershirt on game day, they were benched for a quarter.

It was all laid out ahead of time and some parents gave us grief after the student/athlete was benched, but in the end most came to realize the importance of the little things on a football team. And it was the same policy for each and every one of the players on that football team. Best player or the worst. I've always said that you're only as good as your weakest link, and in the end if you win, that guy that no one thinks is any good had a huge part in your success. The team wins and he's a part of it. There is no one that is superior as far as a human being level on a team. Sure, you have better players, but all of them are the same in my book when it comes to expectations.

Act like a clown? Sit on the bench. Bad grades aren't acceptable. School is always first and foremost. And it pays off more times than not.

The bottom line from my stance is that if you have a policy, you stick to it, no matter what. If you waver in your stance, you've just sent a message that you aren't going to live up to your word. And nothing destroys a team faster.

If a policy is outlined from the jump, you cannot back down from it. It must be followed through or you risk losing your team. Sure, they'll probably still like you if they liked you to begin with, but that "fear" of upsetting Coach is now gone.

I think this is the same throughout all levels of the sport. From Pop Warner, to Modified, to JV, to Varsity to Collegiate Ball and to the Pros. Sure, there are different levels of discipline, but the most disciplined teams are always tough to beat.

And I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule. People could probably still argue, effectively, that those Miami Hurricanes had no discipline, but the counter argument will always be there as well.

Its the teams that do all of these little things that know how to line up, are not highly penalized and are aware of what needs to be done on a week to week basis to win football games.

So what say you, ES? Am I full of crap or do you agree. Don't let me down here, I'm looking for some discussion :)

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