Getting Maximum Effort From Your Team

One thing I discuss with coaches is effort, and how to get it. In terms of our approach and what we do, I’m going to make sure that I get what I want. What I mean is, I’m not just going to accept whatever level of effort any particular player decides to give. His effort is dictated by what I want.

All too often, I see coaches who are accepting of whatever effort a player brings to practice. They say, “we can’t run a Trips XX Trap because Billy can’t do this or that.” They are allowing player effort (not talent) to dictate scheme. Each night that I go to practice, I see players standing around giving the absolute minimal effort and coaches ignoring it. Then when it comes to scrimmage or game time I hear, “Y’all aren’t blocking! Y’all aren’t doing this-or-that!” They never demanded anything UNTIL it was time for them to deliver in a game situation.

I’m not going to ask more from them. I’m going to demand it. It isn’t a player’s choice. It’s a directive. Many coaches are fine with demanding effort from talented players, but when it comes to the player with little talent, they ask hardly anything from him. Talent doesn’t determine effort. Anyone can give effort. How many times have you heard a coach complain about his team’s effort?

I’ve never coached a team where I was disappointed with our effort. I’ve been disappointed with our quality of play and with my coaching, but our teams have always made me proud with how hard they were willing to work. Do you demand, or do you ask? What do you do if you think you aren’t getting a player’s best effort? Do you write him off, or do you dig in and invest your work and time? With me, he doesn’t have a choice.

We’re not going to waste time having a player do something “over and over again” if his performance is due to a lack of effort. Players don’t challenge me in that way. I think they know better. But we would take him to the field for his 240 yards of whatever. Now we will spend the time repping a player on technique if he is giving effort, but not for a lack of effort. I honestly can’t remember when the last time was that I had to take one of my players down there for 240s.

In terms of performance, yes I will drill the rest of practice if I’m working on something and we just aren’t getting there. I will mortgage the rest of my practice if I feel we need it. This has been frustrating to my ACs. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone else as a way to conduct practice, if there are other areas that need as much attention, or more. But I can indulge myself because A) I am the head coach and B) we were strong in other areas, so I didn’t feel like we were overlooking other aspects of our program. I didn’t feel like I was “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” so to speak.

“So what do you do if the kids won’t do the 240′s or is giving poor effort there? Consider my position, which is EVERYONE on the team MUST have a starting position and play the whole game. So I can’t use not playing as a motivator.”

So a player is openly defying you? Wow. Take him to the fence and send him home with Momma.

I see coaches put players in positions where they can’t succeed. I see them in situations where they can’t succeed. And when they don’t perform well, these players are chastized and blamed by their coaches and parents. I see kids being taught A W F U L fundamentals and when they can’t succeed at them are written off by the coach. Last Saturday, I saw a team lose 33-0.  I kept hearing the coaching staff of the losing team blame their players for not blocking. They were blocking their tails off. They were blocking with intensity and using every bit of their effort. But they had been taught incorrectly. THAT is why the players were not succeeding.

In 2004, we had a player with minimal talent. The only sport he had ever played before coming to us was soccer. His mom was a complainer, saying that her son didn’t like yelling, he didn’t like this, he didn’t like that, etc. Kid was a smart, nice young man. Despite the fact that he had no talent, and lousy tackling form (he’d drop to his knees before making a tackle, becoming more of a boat-anchor to the ball-carrier), he started at Middle Linebacker and he led us in tackles. He never played football again, that I am aware of. But he gave great effort, without the talent to match. His effort trumped his ability. His mom never did like me. She thought I was too loud for her son.

My original point was that many coaches don’t really demand effort; but merely ask for it. Example: There are teams whose players will not talk over a coach while he is talking, but there are other teams who constantly talk over their coaches and have to be told to be quiet (over and over). (“Why won’t you be quiet while the coach is talking?”) It’s a discipline thing, really.

Some coaches seem to think that if a player doesn’t have much ability, that he’s not going to give much effort. I’ve never found a similarity between talent and effort.

“A player with few or no skills require coaching. Especially in youth ball a young player with limited experience may appear to not be giving an effort when it’s actually fear of contact that is happening.”

Agree. And with youth players it can be more than just a fear of contact, but an overall fear of competing.

“Don’t confuse lack of effort & fear.”

–And don’t think that you can get them to overcome fear through negative coaching or insults. If anything, you will probably reinforce it. If a coach blames his team for “You guys just don’t want it bad enough,” then guess what? They probably won’t. At least they’re not going to want it badly enough for that coach.

“When I talk to the team not only can I guarantee their silence but their attention also. My players know all eyes & ears must be on me, no lowered heads. If you ask me how I accomplish this (I have been thinking about it), being honest I would simply say I demand it. However in looking at it my training as a speaker probably has more to do with it. I am always scanning the players to make sure I have their attention. I also don’t waste my words, so they understand to pay attention.”

–This is from “Master Coaching 101.” You demand it. I demand it; I don’t ask for it. I know I’m going to get it; I don’t wonder whether I will, or not. If you can captivate their attention, you don’t have to ask for it. If you can’t hold their attention; begging for it won’t get it for you.

“3 quick whistles called them back to me (remember I am the OC, not the HC). Quite sternly I asked them if that was how a District Champion team takes the field. My eyes were ablaze & there was intensity in my voice. The was instant recognition from them (all 18… LOL). They then ran onto the field with purpose & vigor. It set the tone for the rest of practice. As a coach this must be done always.”

–Some coaches are simply too lazy for this. Some coaches are afraid of conflict. Some coaches don’t know the end result their actions will get them. Some coaches just want their players to like them. If you CARE to push them, they will respect you and that’s more important than them liking you.

Submitted by Dave Potter

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