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Your Take: Long Hours, Hard Work Do You Spend Your Time Doing What Matters Most?by: David Buchanan
Head Coach at Mason County H.S., Maysville, KY
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If you are a head football coach, chances are that you are also a husband, father and classroom teacher. Usually guys that are wired to be a head football coach are wired to give their best in everything they do. How in the world do you balance all of the demands that go with those roles? Are you active in your church? I have spent 23 years as a head football coach. The last 19 years were at Mason County High School (KY). I underestimated how much work I would have to do when I became the new head football coach at Mercer County High School. This experience has forced me to prioritize what I do so that I maximize my time and spend it in a way that it will have the biggest, most positive impact on our program.
Over 20 years ago at a clinic, Sam Harp, former Danville High School (KY) coach with seven state titles, shared a master list of what a coach needs to do, broken down by the months of the year. That list has been a big help, but when I took the job at Mercer County in April, I became overwhelmed with everything I was NOT getting done. On a day that we had spring practice, I woke up at 4 am and just started working to try to get a handle on what needs to get done. The four-hour round trip, teaching school in Maysville, and doing spring practice in Harrodsburg, is making it tough to complete every task. It is very important that the 2015 seniors in my new job get an opportunity to win at a high level and that they get a great experience playing their last year of high school football.
In prioritizing what needs to get done, I have broken the year down into the following: Winter, Spring, Pre-season, Season, and Post-season. I guess I just cant seem to bring myself to use the expression off-season because there is very little off time.
Each page/period has five columns: 1) Big Picture: 10 year plan (development of young men); 2) Player Development: Strength, Speed, Change of Direction, Reaction, Football Technique; 3) Finances 4) Feeder Programs 5) Nuts and Bolts (less important items but still needs to get done).
I am already sleeping better! I am accepting that I may not get everything done I want to do, but I will make sure that I get done the things that matter the most: 1- What helps people? 2- What helps us win?
One of the things I have noticed, and the document shows it to be the case, that in many ways the season is easier than the rest of the year. In-season, all you do is coach your team and keep everything on track. After the season is when you lay the groundwork for long-term success in addition to a successful upcoming season. Here are some of the highlights:
From March through the end of July you get hit hard with the nuts and bolts of preparing for the season. Trying to work ahead or share some of this with assistants will allow you to spend July and August on more football and less running a program.
Here are some examples from January and February. These lists illustrate how the job has grown and what the general public doesnt realize - some of the most important work a high school football coach will do is in the dead of winter. If we are going to do all we can to help our kids be successful, there is work to be done, and I would argue some of our most important work. I call the Big Picture the 10 Year Plan, because the big picture of our program is where will our guys be 10 years from now? Will they be successful husbands and fathers? Will they be contributing to their communities and serving others?
On player development, I try to be specific in the areas that we want to see improvement. This is much more complicated than it use to be. I am a football guy. Strength and Conditioning guys have a very strong set of beliefs about what is the best way to address these areas. What one coach will say is the best thing you can do while another coach will say is harmful and/or a waste of time. I dont have a great answer on how to navigate it. But, I try to take into consideration what I have seen that works and what is simple enough that I can teach, implement, and the kids can understand.
I started doing this because I have great assistant coaches and I believed if I could get those kids and families in front of my coaches, they would want to be around those guys. In the winter of 2015, I sent by email and Facebook that I would meet with anyone in grades 6-11 that was interested in football at their house or at our football office. Recruiting kids to play football has never been more important or been a bigger part of being a head football coach.
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