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AFM Magazine

You\'re Now Undefeated

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Well, itís that time of year again, the off-season. Now youíre all undefeated and some of the more important decisions you make regarding the upcoming year will be made now. Itís time to evaluate where you are and what is going to help you be the most successful team you can be next year. There are a number of approaches to handling the off-season and each situation is always different, but in my experiences there are at least three things that all teams can do to prepare themselves for the upcoming year:

1. Forget about last year
Whether you won a championship or didnít win a game last year, none of that really matters now. Weíre all 0-0 now and what happened in the past is just that, the past. We can relish our victories or dwell in our defeats but none of that will do any good when it comes time to play your next opponent. Do you think the New England Patriots have become complacent because theyíve won three championships in four years? Do you think the San Francisco 49ers are thinking they canít make the playoffs because they finished 2-14 last year? The answer to both of those is obviously no. One of the bigger impacts a coach can have on his players is the ability to keep looking ahead. Not beyond, but ahead. If youíre on a win streak itís important to keep the players focused on the next game, to temper their egos and instill in them the knowledge that each game counts the same and we can win or lose any game, regardless of the opponent. Conversely, if your team has struggled through some losses, itís important to keep the players focused ahead and not on the fact that we lost last week.

2. Evaluate your talent
Thereís no question that talent is a big part of the equation when it comes to wins and losses. But, rarely is a game won on talent alone and often times a lesser talented team wins a game because they are prepared and they play within themselves. So, figure out where your talent level is and play to your strengths. If you have a great quarterback that can drop back and throw it, devise a way to make that happen. If you have a runner thatís your best player, get the ball in his hands as often as possible. If itís your defense that youíre more comfortable with, it might be that you want to be conservative on offense. If youíre unsure where your strengths are, then devise a balanced game plan and stick to it.

3. Get your best players on the field
Once youíve evaluated your talent-level, you may find that you have a log-jam of talent at one position. If thatís the case, try to come up with other positions that each of those players might play in order to get the best players on the field. For example, if you have two or three running backs that are gifted football players, think about which one might excel at wide receiver or even quarterback. Also, if you have some newcomers or younger players, keep it simple. When I was a college coach, I always tried to keep my game plans fairly simple. My reason for that was because often times incoming freshman were the most gifted players and gave us the best chance of winning, but couldnít keep up with the playbook. So, by keeping things simple, they were able to be on the field and using their ability instead of thinking too much. And finally, donít sacrifice integrity just to win ball games. When I say get your best players on the field, that doesnít mean just the most athletic. Get the best football players out there. Play the oneís you trust to do their job. Play the oneís who show leadership and intelligence as well as talent.


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