I was a high school football coach between the years 2008-2010 and a middle school football coach between the years 2011-2014. I played football as a child between the ages of 7-12 and as a teenager between the ages of 13-18.
I would always be told as a player that the lessons you learn while playing football can be carried with you and utilized throughout other parts of your life and ultimately used for the rest of your life. I began to understand this more when I coached football and more when I stopped coaching and decided to pursue other interest and goals in life. Reflection always solidifies lessons.
While at the high school level, I coached running backs and I also created the strength program for a then brand new high school in south Atlanta, GA, based on the Nebraska University weight training program. I will not name the school but their team mascot is the panthers. At the middle school level, I coached all of the offensive “skill” position players which for those who are not aware, would include the quarterback, running back, fullback, tight end and receiver positions. Additionally, at that level I created and called plays during practice and games. Ironically the middle school team is known as the panthers also.
What I learned about being a coach is that, it is not possible to only instruct a player at getting better at his position. It is absolutely necessary to deal with their personal situations, school situations and even family situations. A coach is a counselor, cool uncle, friend, cabbie, loaner of money at various times and sometimes all of these responsibilities must be taken on all at once.
Preseason, nowadays begins as soon as the last football game is played. There is no “off-season” leading up to the first game of a new season. During this preseason new and returning players are evaluated at each position, to determine who has the top skill to be the starter, second string etc., at each position. Players are not only evaluated on the field they are observed in the classroom setting, the hallways of the school and the cafeteria. Coaches want to know who are the natural leaders, who are the followers and who are the knuckleheads who need more of a fatherly approach. Of course, coaches have a certain scheme or style of offensive and defensive play that they would like to utilize.
With that being said, if I had a team with guys who were big and strong, but not very fast, it would not make since for me to run an offense that depended on what is known as spread formations, spreading guys out to take advantage of more space on the field. They could have all of the space in the world and yet be too slow to take advantage of it. A stubborn coach would try to use a spread/fast player based offense anyway and lose a lot of games. Thus, being able to see the big picture and being able to adjust is always important.
During the off-season “officially” around March-April know as spring practice and then June-July summer training takes place. This is the moment when players are put in the weight room and taught different strength training exercises, key among them the bench press, dead lift and squat exercises and secondarily, other lifts/exercises are taught.
However, the strongest muscle that is being prepared at this time is the MIND. In the preparation to reach the goal of becoming stronger, the players have to push themselves past their perceived limits. Coaches can assist in teaching proper technique in lifting, other players can give motivation, but unless the individual wants to get stronger, get better for his own self reasons, it will not happen.
Then running must take place. Running of an outdoor track, running up and down the stadium steps and my favorite, running wind sprints. This is the part were only the vision of the goal to be achieved can help each player to make it through those running drills, especially when mother nature is shining the light on a players shoulders, neck and back during the summer heat. It is not easy, as it can be compared to progressing in life.
The yelling of quit is at a high volume in each person’s head and it takes tremendous self motivation to ignore that voice and then tell it to shut up in order to continue. How often have you had to have such a battle with yourself or tell someone going against your progression to shut up?
Usually, teams will trim their player numbers down to 56 players who "make the team" of which 30-35 may get the most playing time. Yet, the school consist of a 1000 or more students. Everyone has their own individual talents and skills and that may not include sports. Yet, some try and find that football is not for them, that does not make them a terrible person, nor a loser.
Nevertheless, it is made clear for those that can make it, that their endurance level was a little more special in this particular path than many. For your particular path, if you are succeeding, enduring, you have the right to pat yourself on the back, especially if you are pushing yourself to do something that others cannot or may be unwilling to do, because everyone cannot do what you are doing, whatever that skill or talent may be.
So then the time comes for the first game. Players have their new clean uniforms waiting in their assigned lockers and the sound of music is playing in the locker room and the adjoining area for motivation. I must inform you that if you have not picked up on this by now, I am a “Brother” also known as a Black Man, sometimes classified as an African-American and I mainly coached young Brothers and Latino players.
The schools were Atlanta based thus, the music that boomed out of the speakers in the dressing areas, training rooms and the stadiums during that time were from Lil’ Boosie, OJ DA Juiceman, Shawty Lo, T.I., Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Wacka Flocka and any other underground Atlanta rappers. That’s what the young guys liked to listen to and I would get pumped up for the games hearing that as well. Surely the average person has music that motivates them for work, a big day, a special day. Its all a part of heightening the proper attitude for success.
When you leave your home, your thought and attitude will determine the success or failure of the day and that includes when you get around the people whom you will interact with. In football, a game is literally won or lost during pre-game warm ups, leaving and stepping out onto the field from the football home if you will.
For the ultimate football fan you may now be saying that I am crazy. Oh yeah...well I tell you what. I have seen first hand that when a team has all 56 and sometimes a teams head coach in the know, who wants to intimidate a visiting team will bring out his varsity and jv teams, 100 players in all at times. For the purpose of having the team yell in unison and slap their pads in routine warm ups before the game, having their sound echo off of the stadium seats and walls.
Usually the team that is loudest and appears to be the most aggressive and confident is the one that is going to win. Why do you think in the sport of Rugby for example, the teams which have many players of Samoan or Maori Warrior ancestry are known for their pregame Siva Tau war dance. You think they are trying to send greetings? No, they are trying to scare the hell out of the opposing team. Football and Rugby as far as team sports are concerned, are basically mini wars, of violence and intimidation.
Life is a game of intimidation. Not saying that you have to do a war dance before you leave your home, but an attitude of “I am going to accomplish what I need and want to, for myself” is necessary. Because, most of this world despite what you may think, could care less if you are successful or destitute. Which is why it is drummed into your head by a growing minority that you have to believe in yourself.
The first game of the season can reveal many things about the team and the coaches because pressure brings out either the best or the worst in people. There is no pressure like playing in a game of football, were you have gladiators who would love nothing more than to see you “laid out” on the grass and taken off of the field. I also know about having a stadium full of people with opinions, watching your every move and usually with something to say if they don’t like what they see.
You have to be a self controlled SAVAGE to be one of the best on the field of football at any level. As a coach, there is a certain level of controlled SAVAGERY as well, because most coaches remember what it was like to play, if we could, we would jump in and play in the game. There is a certain level of controlled anger and yet a game of mental chess that takes place as coaches are trying to figure out how to defeat their opponent and make adjustments after each 4 down series of plays.
As the game progresses certain plays prove themselves from theory to actualization by working most of the time when they are “called in” to the players on the field. Various strategies are utilize, disguising plays after being successful with a certain skill player with a particular play and then using a different skill player to use the same play out of a new formation. I am keeping the football lingo as simple as I can.
A player may throw an interception, fumble a ball, miss a tackle, drop a touchdown catch, miss a block that can create a momentum booster for the opposing team or even a touchdown or more. Players and coaches in an instant have to forget the negative that just happened and make mental adjustments quickly with the thought in mind that we can still win. Coaches tell players to “keep your heads up,” “keep your head in the game,” “the game ain’t over yet,” “forget the last play.”
I would at times call the entire team over behind the benches and tell special motivational instructions based on negative self talk I would hear them exchanging with each other. Knowing that the negative talk would infect the whole team if I allowed it to continue. So if negative self talk and vision can infect a whole team what do you think it can do to one person in or outside of a competitive sports environment?
Certain skill players would at times come to me and say “Coach get the ball man, I know they stopped me on “36 power” the last few times, but I promise they won’t stop me again!” Knowing the young man was stopped several times and yet seeing the look in his eyes and the determination in his voice, I usually would go against my personal conviction and allow the young man’s self belief to manifest itself. 9 times out of 10 my belief in the young man would pay off. It may not have looked pretty, but it was a sight to behold. I had to get past what I saw and believed and exchange that for knowing that something greater was possible. Is that not what a miracle or magic is called?
When the games were over and we won everybody was slapping 5-fives and laughing and it felt good! Yet, when a lost came, everybody was looking sad or pissed off, that was rare, yet it was still a win.
I can say that because a lost is a win, when you can take a look at what happened, understand what happened and make the proper adjustments, perhaps change the play and know that you will not take that same action again and if you do, you will not make the same play in the same frame of mind or the same situation.
There is a new sports/football game every week, in the game of life, a new game takes place every second, every minute. We are our own team owner, coach, player and trainer. I am down with being on a winning team, winning championships, taking advantage of my skills and talents. What about you?
COPYRIGHT 2018 JASSIRI NASSOR/THE SPIRITUAL SATIRE/THOUGHT ELEVATION OLA
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