ARGH!! That’s not what I expected!!


1: the act or state of expecting ANTICIPATION in expectation of what would happen

2: basis for expecting ASSURANCE they have every expectation of success

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

17 years ago I endeavored to become a Football Coach for our local youth program.  After all I played the game, so how hard could this be, right?  (Rolls Eyes)  Even so,  I read books, I attended Clinics, I talked to people, I watched film, all with the intention to establish the X’s and O’, The Game Plan, or Expectation of how it was going to be on Offense and Defense. 

I trotted out for the first practice with about 40 pages of tried and true Football Stuff and a Roster on a Clipboard.  After 3 practices, I was finding myself wondering why on God’s Green Earth we could not run these plays with any consistency.   What was so dang hard about this stuff that these kids just cant do it?  I mean after all I just spent months watching, reading, and learning.  All of these plays I had seen run, over and over, with good results.  I had seen the diagrams and listened to well-known and Heroic Coaches talk about how to get results.  Given that scenario it had to be The Kids!  I mean I what else could it possibly be?  I had changed nothing about the play from what I watched and learned to how I put it to use on the field so it just had to be the kids right?   WRONG! 100 TIMES WRONG!

After stewing on it for three days after our last practice It Hit Me!   I was the problem, My Game Plan, was the Problem, My Expectation was the problem.  How so you ask?  

I watched films of College and Professionals running plays.  I read books and diagrams written by those same coaches.  All I did was transfer their Professional level of understanding and EXPECTATION onto 10-14 year old boys, most of whom had never played Football at any level.   In short, I had set them up to fail on all accounts. 

Rest assured that I did not do so intentionally.  However, like many rookie coaches, I did not understand my audience’s ability execute nor did I understand my ability to teach them how.  I had to quickly learn how to establish appropriate basic expectations, assuming a ZERO experience level across the board.   I had to find out and learn what criteria was for Knowledge, Skills, and Ability at the 10 year old level.  In short what is a Stud # 5 vs Average Joe #3 to MPP #1 for 11 positions on both sides of the ball.  Trust me that didn’t happen overnight!  Yet, starting with Key Positions and evolving it over time made other things easier to do.  It all comes back to establishing solid age and skill level appropriate Expectations from day one.   For example:

  • What is my Base Offense and Why?
  • What 6 Plays do I want to establish (Simple Six/ Sainted Six)? Why are these important to success?
  • How does my Roster effect those six plays, if at all? 
  • How can I expand those plays and increase expectation successfully?
  • Defensively, what is my Base Defense and why?
  • What are my 3 Easy Adjustments to Cause an Effect the Offense? 
  • How does my Roster effect my Base Defense and Adjustments?
  • Are there other adjustments I can add that enhance Expectations?

Please note that everything I have laid out is at the Team Level.  I urge all of you to have some level of expectation on how to take your MPP (#1) to the Average Joe Level (#3).  Why?  Because if your Roster is anything close to mine year in and year out, you are far more likely to have more kids at the 1-3 than 4’s and 5’s.  Given that scenario I can honestly say if you work with a roster of kids long enough those 1’s and 2’s will be 3’s and maybe 4’s. 

I hope this helps put things in perspective.  You can indeed have Great Expectation as long as it fits the Scenario you are dealing with.  Once that happens everyone’s chances for success have been greatly increased! 

Food For Thought!

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Posted in Articles, Philosophy.