Nansemond River Offensive Coordinator Lew Johnston (Photo: Sarah Murphy/recruit757)
Today’s Coaches Corner comes from the wisdom of Nansemond River offensive coordinator Lew Johnston
by Lew Johnston, a special contribution to recruit757
I asked the team at the end of practice the other day if they were having fun. It just seemed to me that the whole season has seemed like a big drudgery to them so far. There is no life. No enthusiasm. No joy.
I encouraged them to “loosen up” and enjoy the ride. (Nansemond River Football is 4-1 at this point in the season. -AH)
Sometimes as coaches we get so “locked in” that our intensity hinders the players from enjoying an activity that is supposed to be fun. We need to find opportunities to break the monotony and produce a relaxed, joyful atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be anything big or well-planned (though, those type of activities are good, too!) to get your players to enjoy themselves.
A “little thing” that I used to do was to dance for/with the players. We always had music on in the locker room before practice.
I could hear it in my office.
If it was a “dance-worthy” song, I would come out of my office boogyin’ and shakin’ (being a little silly too!) to the beat of the song. The kids would see me and start cheering. Some would come join me and we’d dance together. I’m sure they thought that “the old man is crazy” but that was ok. I wanted to show them that being together as a team can be (and should be) a joyful experience.
I’m well-known for telling really bad jokes. I love puns and will take any opportunity to share a funny one. I’d get up in front of the team to start a meeting… appearing all serious… and then tell a silly joke. The kids would moan and groan but it was fun.
Now you have to be careful, particularly with adolescents, that “fun” doesn’t spill over the line to what I call “funny.”
This is when you allow things to get out of hand. The player who has some issues with self-control can say or do something that is inappropriate. The player who’s a bit of a show-off will try to bring too much attention to himself. This has to be dealt with. A brief team meeting usually sets people straight. If not, a 1-on-1 with that player who is trying to be “funny” may be necessary.
You need some wisdom to recognize when someone does step over the line and deal with it. If not, it can cause the whole team to lose focus.
All of this changes on game day. Rarely do you find me relaxed on game day. I put on my “game face” early in the day and I expect our players to be the same way. We’ll have fun after we win that night.
– Lew Johnston