The 3 Pillars of Accountability: Follow Through (Part 1)

In the next three articles, I am going to explain how we build accountability in our football program through three pillars: follow through, communication, and attention to detail.

Accountability doesn’t happen over night and there must be a lot of trust between the staff and players, but it is a high investment, high reward situation.

Here’s how to teach follow through to your players:

“Own it.”

When we tell our players and each other to “own it” we are stressing the importance of ensuring execution.

Don’t skip a rep.

Don’t jog the last two yards of that wind sprint.

Don’t do a lousy fake.

Don’t let the ball hit the ground.

And then beyond just saying these things, there needs to be a consequence like doing push ups.

As a coach, you’ve must teach your players that actions speak louder than words. And you can do this by setting up standards and following through. Once your players start to see the power of this, they’ll start to gain respect for the process.

Another key thing you’ve got to understand is expectations vs. responsibility.

Your players should know what is expected of them, but the responsibility is the tough part.

They know they need to be in the weight room.

They know they need to get good grades.

But you can’t just say to them “Johnny, do better in school!” There has to be real accountability that leads to responsibility. You must hold your players accountable and teach them to follow through on everything that they do.


Now you can’t start making a bunch of rules that you can’t enforce. That leads to chaos because it is almost impossible to follow through on all the consequences.

However, you’ve got to have rules and you’ve got to stick with them.

The old UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was known for all the rules he had even detailing how they should tie their shoes and how they should groom themselves.

Well the star player Bill Walton was player of the year and when he was coming back to the first practice of his senior year, he shows up with long hair and a beard. He knew the rules, but just thought, “It’s my senior year, what’s coach going to really do about it?”

John Wooden then told him that he needs to cut his hair and shave his beard.

Walton then replied saying that Coach Wooden didn’t have the right to tell him what to do with his hair, and Coach Wooden agreed. But then Coach said, “but I do have the right to decide who plays and who doesn’t.”

Bill Walton then left immediately to go get a haircut.

The lesson is that you’ve got to have rules that you are willing to enforce.

So, to conclude this first pillar, you must teach your players the importance of following through by doing it yourself and by holding them accountable to your standards.

It’s not an easy task, but these are the things that build lasting success in your program.

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