Off Season Motivation to Increase Accountability

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I think that every coach struggles to find ways to increase motivation, accountability, and attendance in the off season.  I am going to present some of the ideas that are in my WORST TO FIRST: Program Building book in this article and most of them are extrinsic, basically meaning that we offer a reward, such as a shirt or spirit pack, to players who put forth extraordinary effort in the off season.

“Extrinsic Motivation is the Basic Form and Needs to Turn Into Intrinsic Motivation”

A benefit of rewarding players for effort is that any player, regardless of talent, can earn these rewards and be recognized, which is really important to making every player develop a sense of belonging.  Since the criteria mostly revolves around effort in the weight room, this system can also make an average player better.

When developing our criteria I have to be very careful on how to handle the players who do not reach the standards that we have set.  I am always very, very reluctant to remove players from the program, but 27 years of experience has shown me that a player who is not committed during spring & summer, almost always lets the team down during the season.  Despite knowing that, I will always leave the door open for players to show up in August who have had very poor prior attendance because I believe that boys need football more than football needs players.

I want to repeat however, that experience has shown me that these non-committed kids will usually be the first players who will end up quitting on you if you have a loss in September.

When developing your system, I caution you on making it so complicated that you have to hire a math teacher  to keep track of it.  It needs to be simple to follow for the players and the coaches.

HOW TO EARN POINTS

Winter and Spring

  • 2 point for every day attending morning weight training………………………180 points possible
  • 1 point for every pound gained on combined maxes Jan to June……………..varies but expect 100lb gain on Bench, Squat, Power Clean
  • 1 point for every Speed Workout or 2 points for OL Mini Camp attended……20 points possible
  • 10 points: Finishing winter sport (basketball or wrestling) …………………..10 points possible  BONUS
  • 10 points: Finishing a spring sport (baseball, track, tennis, swimming)…..10 points possible  BONUS
  • 10 points: Parent/guardian joining the Booster Club……………………………10 points possible  BONUS
  • 5 points: For every “A” grade at end of semester………………………………….35 points possible  BONUS
  • 1 point: for every $2 raised ………………………………………………………….. varies

Summer

  • 2 point for every day attending morning or afternoon training……………….45 points possible
  • 1 point for every pound gained on combined maxes Jan to June……………..varies but expect 50lb gain on Bench, Squat, Power Clean
  • 2 point for evening football practices (2 nights per week)……………………..20 points possible
  • 5 points for each of two local 7 on 7 tournaments……………………………….10 points possible
  • 10 points for out of town football camp……………………………………………10 points possible
  • 10 points for overnight mini camp………………………………………………….10 points possible
  • 5 points for working the July Youth Football Camp……………………………..5 BONUS points
  • 5 points for every 4-hour shift in Fireworks Booth……………………………….15 BONUS points
  • 5 points for bringing a new player out who never played before……………….5 BONUS points per player
  • 1 point: for every $2 raised  …………………………………………………………. varies
  • 10/20/30 points for returning soph (10), 3-year Jr (20), & 4-year Sr (30)

WHAT THEY EARN

MAY BENCHMARK: I always come up with fun trips and rewards for hitting a certain point value in May.

JULY BENCHMARK: I have two different rewards that players can earn.  One reward is for hitting an OVERALL point total, which is your spring and summer points combined.  Then to give players new to the program a chance or to motivate a kid who did not do well in the spring and did not get the May Reward.

Must have 300 points before August camp opens or have to make up deficient points with “CHAMPIONSHIP REMINDERS” before practice and put all the bags away after practice.  They have to do this 1 day for every 3 points under 300.

All of these trips and incentives are talked about here.  Click to see. 

We also recognize 4-year football letterman at our awards banquets with a really nice wooden plaque with a team helmet mounted, complete with helmet stickers.  There is a plaques that says “4 YEARS PANTHER BROTHERHOOD” and a 5 x 7 picture of all of the 4-year seniors along with 4-year coaches on it.  It is really nicely done.  We take the helmets that were rejected from re-conditioning, cut them in half and mount them.  We also make extra plaques to use at our Auction Dinner and for special VIP awards.

HOW POINTS VALUES ARE DETERMINED

I meet with our Leadership Council once per week during the offseason.  It is made up of every returning varsity senior, 4 sophomores, and 2 freshmen.  One of the topics we talk about is Pride Point criteria and they can make recommendations on things they would like to be added or deleted. This gives the players ownership and they feel like it is their idea.

When setting the Benchmarks, I simply take 90% of what I think a player can earn.  I do not take into account BONUS points, however, I want to make sure that BONUS points cannot erase zero attendance to the weight room.

If you want to see what I do to teach leadership year round, click here.

PLAYING OTHER SPORTS IS ENCOURAGED

I really want our players playing other sports for several reasons.

  1. They get coached by other coaches on campus, hear other motivational tactics
  2. They are competing.  Pressure can only come from within and it is hard to simulate game pressure in practice or during the offseason
  3. They get to work different muscles, which decrease injury.  Wrestling teaches leverage, basketball & tennis improve quickness, and baseball improves coordination.
  4. Statistics show that if they stay active in other sports, they are less likely to let their grades drop.  Additionally, I get help from another coach in tracking grades & attendance

I am partial to our kids wrestling because it is hard work. Hard work is a hard sell to the video-game generation of kids we have coming through our program today.  Wrestlers also make great defensive players.  The cutting of weight does not bother me because they very quickly put it back on after the season, but minus the body fat.

If our athletes play three sports for four years in a row, they get a free lifetime pass to our sporting events.

SPRING WORKOUTS

I will not tolerate our players being lazy, so after baseball and track have had 2 weeks to recruit their rosters, we start MANDATORY speed work two days per week afterschool for anyone not in a spring sport.  Our offensive lineman also meet for 4 hours one day per week for skill work on the field followed by film study.  We will have a total of 20 Speed Workouts and 10 Offensive Line Workouts.  The linemen get a T-Shirt for perfect attendance.   All of my spring and summer speed, agility, and conditioning are listed here.

If a player does not attend, I have a pretty stern talk with them, followed by a meeting with the parents, and finally not allowing them to attend our May Camping Retreat to Hume Lake.

In addition to the team jerseys, on August 6, we assign team duties. We just added this for this past year. It has made all of the difference in the world.

IN SEASON JOBS

We have every job associated with running an efficient practice assigned and posted in the locker room.  This includes getting water/bags/cones/ put out before practice and then put away at end of practice.  Some of the jobs are harder than others, so we let the players with the most PRIDE Points choose the job that they want.  Some jobs are supervising jobs, so the players at the very top of the points board do not actually have any jobs assigned at all.

NON PRIDE POINT INCENTIVES

There are some other really cool incentives that we give our players for accomplishing things that are not tied to our PRIDE POINTS.

**We let our seniors buy their jerseys after the season.  I discount them because I want to replace a set of jerseys every 2 years.

My formula for fundraisers is this.  I am willing to give a player 1/2 of our profit margin on any item to determine Free Incentives.  For example we make $6 for every cookie dough box sold and Hume Lake costs $120.  So if a player sells 40 boxes of cookie dough, that is a total of $240 in profits.  The program gets $120 and the player can use $120 for Hume Lake.  A player cannot apply a fundraiser total to two different incentives.  In my cookie dough example, the player could not use his cookie dough numbers to also cover his spirit pack or game jersey.

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About Me

Coach Stewart has coached football for 27 years, winning championships with 6th graders, 8th graders, high school freshman, and high school varsity. He coached 9 years at the youth and freshman level, always serving as head coach. After completing his college at age of 28 he has coached 21 years at the varsity level, 13 as the varsity head coach.

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