Teams are finishing up school and get ready for summer and preseason practice. There are a lot of summer distractions and every coach deals with the often trying task of getting his players present and excited about football summers.
Which brings about the question. How much enthusiasm is there in your program?
Coaches are quick to point out at times that our teams like size or experience. Sometimes we talk about our lack of speed or not having enough linemen to be efficient. At small schools teams may be simply short on the number of players. We seldom hear coaches bemoan their lack of enthusiasm, yet when a team struggles it is obvious on the sideline that something is lacking. And that something is enthusiasm.
Every staff needs at least one coach on each side of the ball that brings energy and enthusiasm everyday, not just some days. You can teach a coach drills for running backs and how to execute a zone blitz. But can you teach them to coach those things with enthusiasm?
Players like to be around coaches that are enthusiastic about the game and their team. They play harder for those coaches and football is still a game of heart and effort. It is difficult as a coach ages to continue to keep that same enthusiasm year after year. But it is something that he must find a way to create on his squad.
After the Green Bay Packers lost a tough game last year, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said,
“I love this game and I bring energy. I’m not a rah-rah guy, but I’m a focused, enthusiastic player, and I don’t know what the lack of juice was. You kind of felt it over the entire sideline. We didn’t have the same kind of enthusiasm and encouragement that we had the previous two weeks. So we’ve got to look deep in the mirror there, because that’s just not acceptable.”
Enthusiasm is so important to success that coaches must constantly coach it and find ways to teach it to their players and their team as a whole. TCU Coach Gary Patterson has instilled enthusiasm into his winter off season early morning circuit program of agility and conditioning. The more enthusiastic the players are, the less stations they do. The less enthusiasm the team members display, the more they do.
The criteria by which Patterson judges success is calibrated only in his head. He wants to hear woofing, cheering, yelling, screaming. He wants to see it at each station. He wants to see it at the enthusiasm station, which he oversees at midfield. The players sprint to him, and they better be dancing and chanting. If he doesn’t approve, he adds another station stop to the workout schedule.
It is Patterson’s belief that his players remain strong and tough because they don’t surrender to being tired. That’s why he wants enthusiasm. That’s why he demands that the excitement be contagious.
It’s easy to be enthusiastic when things are going well. During tough times, teams need something to lean upon that will get them going back in the right direction. And there is nothing better on a team than an enthusiastic leader. The most critical part of enthusiasm is for players to understand how contagious it can be. If they start talking to their teammates and insist that they get involved in the enthusiasm, you have the beginnings of true leadership.
If a coach wants his team to practice and play with enthusiasm, he must teach it, coach it, insist upon it, celebrate it and allow his team to grow from it. He must demand it at all times, particularly when adversity strikes.
Enthusiasm could just be the missing link to your team’s success this season.