Learning from the Best is How You Become the Best

Learning from the Best is How You Become the Best
March 08, 2022 | Andre Harakas | 5 min read

The majority of what we think, comes from other coaches that we admire and from whom we have learned from. It’s difficult to recognize this, but at some point these ideals have been ingrained in who we are as a program and as coaches.

My high school head coach, Kyle Johnson, believed that football was a vessel for helping young boys become men. He had a huge impact on my life.

Going to coaching clinics had given me a lot of insight of how much work goes into coaching. I make the most of spending a day or two observing and listening to high school and college coaches. Getting the chance to talk with some of them about their teams always inspires me to become a better leader.

I get the most out of listening to their lectures whether that being at a conference or even YouTube videos. I appreciate hearing how other coordinators refer to their formations and plays. It shows how coaches can all make the same sport unique to their team and coaching style.

I’ve read books written by coaches or others who have gone through a difficult situation which helps me a lot. I strongly advise you to read:

  • Mike Krzyzewski’s book, Leading With Your Heart.
  • Leadership
  • Tony Dungy/Nathan Whitaker’s Quiet Strength
  • Tom Osborne’s Faith in the Game
  • Coach Wooden’s Success Pyramid, by John Wooden and Jay Carty
  • Neil Hayes’ When the Game Stands Tall

Leadership is a major part of coaching. Without strong leadership, it is hard to create a solid team culture. I have found through these leadership ideas, programs can become stronger.

  • Be open to making errors. Take control of them, learn from them, and flush them out. It’s sometimes necessary to make a mistake in order to fully comprehend something. Making the same error again is unacceptable.
  • Take a chance on being incorrect and owning it. Take risks and accept your leadership position.
  • Form a “Unity Council.” At the beginning of the March or April, teammates choose six players to lead the squad through the spring and summer months. These players will have a lot of influence on how the team is operated.

“Unity Council”

Only the unity council and the head coach are allowed to participate in the direct chat. When we vote on team matters, the coach also has a say. Even if the coaching staff disagrees, the squad must obey whatever decision is made. They can tell whether practice is too challenging or not rigorous enough. They have a choice in how much time they play and how long they are suspended. They may prolong a player’s ban if he has broken the code and is not ready to play because he has not altered his ways.

This creates leadership and accountably among the team while allowing some openness.

The Unity Council is responsible for policing the team. This includes social situations, strength and fitness, as well as unpleasant remarks and actions off the field.

  • Everyone is hard at work. It’s just as crucial for a Division I athlete to practice to his full capacity as it is for a guy without those abilities. This fundamental idea is what distinguishes a strong team.

Quick Things That I’ve Learned From Being an Athlete

  • Between the whistles, respect your opponent.
  • We believe in freedom of speech. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with a blue mohawk.
  • There should be a collective responsibility for the whole team – that applies to both accomplishments and failures.
  • Everything should be left on the field, and nothing should be left in the tank.
  • Have a good time and enjoy the moment.
  • Players that contribute more should be given more opportunities on the field.
  • Don’t let the opportunities you’ve been given go to waste.
  • Attitude, dedication, respect, and performance are all important factors. How you react to hardship determines your attitude. Commitment refers to how you approach your strength and conditioning, practice, academic, and social preparation.
  • Everyone should be able to find a place in your football program. Special needs students, international exchange students, and female athletes have all participated in football. Everyone was coached, and everyone was treated with respect.

Quick Things That I’ve Learned From Other Coaches

  • Coaches must identify what are the non-negotiable points are. Everything else necessitates adaptability, but we must stick to our program philosophy.
  • Coaches at the varsity level must be available all year. When it’s required, lower-level coaches must be present. Coaches with additional responsibilities should be able to make more choices and take on more responsibilities.
  • Work with your personality as a coach. No one can ever be you.
  • All athletes in the program should respect the coaches’ opinions. Allowing them to ignore you is not an option.
  • The program’s sole promise is that we will train our athletes to the best of our abilities and do everything possible to help them succeed. Aside from that, players must earn everything they get, regardless of their previous actions.
  • It’s up to the players to figure it out. If two players are playing at about the same level, they will continue to play until one of them surpasses the other.
  • Player flexibility in all directions. Players are allowed to play both offensive and defense if they are superior to the next guy.
  • Participation of players. If a player has to skip practice, he should contact his respective level’s head coach.
  • Be on time, or we’ll all be late. Although I do not run, the players will. It’s important to be considerate of others’ time and to arrive on time.
  • Conditioning should be done in groups based on position. Don’t simply run when it comes to conditioning.

Learning is key. There is always a new direction or way of doing things that can be learned. I have found that by talking with a large group of coaches that they handle a lot of situations differently. No one way is the correct way, but it is key to find the best way that works for your team.

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