Defining A Position Coach

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At the beginning of a career every coach wants to be a coordinator. I strictly believe that every young coach should have goals in place and path to reach them, but do not be in a rush to climb the top. Promotions will come from the success of your players in your position. If you are placed in a higher position before you are ready, the title will become more of a weight instead of an accomplishment.  Frustration will set in and you will find yourself complaining more than coaching.

So lets destroy some myths:

  • Becoming a coordinator means it will be easier. A promotion does not afford you to do less. It actually means your load had increased greatly. Your now responsible for game planning, personnel, management, execution, position coaches, drills, practice schedules, etc. To assume much greater responsibilities the mastery of smaller pieces must be accomplished.
  • More Control equals more better. In many coaches mindset it becomes apparent that more control of the situation will “right the ship.” If I called the plays…… or If I did this…….You have the ultimate control as a position coach over players. You are their guide and mentor. When, What, How, and Why the ideas you present to them is the only way they can meet success.
  • A job title guarantees a fix. A title placed beside someones name does not mean the team will experience instant success. Coaching is not a video game where we can get boost, power-ups, or create-a-player modes. Concentration on what you specifically can do to help the team will create leaping achievements for you over a mere title. We have seen many transitions mid season that did not make a big change. In college we see this often, and very seldom do we see a huge turnaround over the span of one game.  Just because you have been given a title does not mean your players ability is gonna change. This is for your head coach to decide. If you are doing your job other staffs, and your own coach will see the need for promotion if it fits. Let your product (positional players) sell your pitch.

Being a coordinator requires management of people and players. Being a position coach is being the coordinator of your position. and it requires the management of your players. The position coach is the first stop in most of our careers as coaching, and it is the most important coaching title you will receive in your career. 

As a position coach it is easy to get lost in the feeling of less importance. Filling up water coolers, painting the field, taping ankles, adjusting helmet air pressure, setting up practice fields, driving buses, etc. are all what seems like meaningless duties. As position coaches, we can all resent these, and not understand their full worth. Each one of these duties are preparing you for the positions your personal goals are made of. That is a lot easier to place on paper, but lets look below at a staff that was assembled a few years ago, ok about 20 years ago.

Lets look at the assistant coaches on the Cleveland Brown’s staff prior to leaving for Baltimore.

The Cleveland Browns Staff Prior to Leaving for Baltimore:

Head coaches

  • Head Coach – Bill Belichick

Offensive coaches

  • Offensive Coordinator – Steve Crosby
  • Quarterbacks – Rod Dowhower
  • Receivers – Mike Sheppard
  • Offensive Line – Kirk Ferentz
  • Special Assignment – Ernie Adams
  • Offensive Assistant – Kevin Spencer

Defensive coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator – Nick Saban
  • Defensive Line – Jacob Burney
  • Linebackers – Woody Widenhofer
  • Defensive Backfield – Rick Venturi

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Scott O’Brien

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Jerry Simmons

There are some great names that pop out on that Browns staff. This is an example of coaches full of potential, but being a part of a great staff. By being great assistant coaches the door of opportunity was opened to them, and they were able to fulfill their career plan.  Each one of those now great coaches had to work as a position coach. Do you think their time as a position coach prepared them for their latest endeavors? Absolutely. Coaching is full of transition, so you better be ready.

Position Coaches are the Foundation of Player Development

If you treat your job as position coach as just an entry level position, you will never reach your full potential as a coach, nor will the staff you are apart of. The position coach while being an entry level position, is actually the foundation of player development.

There is a hierarchy inside the coaching ranks concerning a staff, found anywhere for an organization to the professional work place. This shows the position coach at the bottom of the ranking, and then moving upwards to coordinator and finally head coach.

Now if you look at this chart is looks as if the position coaches are the bottom feeders. Their life seems to be limited to the small part of practice that is considered individual time, and a footnote in the weekly preparations. If you as a position coach see the chart this way, then you will probably remained viewed as just what you think the position is.
To define the position coach: The most integral part of player skill development in any sport, or specialist. The position coach is like going to a heart specialist instead of your general family doctor. As a position coach, you must hone your craft at your position, and find ways to detail the individual needs of your position players. The success a position coach has with his players largely hinges on the success of the scheme that you are in.

How do you do this?

I try to focus on a few drills that are essential to our scheme. If the drill is not beneficial to our scheme, then we do not use it.  I also study the drill intensely before using it at practice.I need to know what to look for and how to instruct the player to do it right, and how it applies to what we do in our scheme. I look for trigger buzz words, to constantly talk about in practice. If you can to our practice you would hear me saying “noose, tuck, turn,” during the Noose drill.  I also have used video to allow players to see someone else using the drill. Some players can see things better than being explained, and it also allows us to employ some leadership into our players during individual time. Make sure you recognize during team time or film study when the benefits of the drill are present. This is the best and most rewarding type of reinforcement that a position coach can make.

It is not about what you know, but what you can get your players to understand. Do not try to do too much. Keep the verbal communication during team time, to direct informative phrases. It is your job to digest a ton of movement in about 5-6 seconds, and reform that into a short phrase. Your teaching is on display when the team comes together to perform the scheme. You must be able to digest this and take ownership. Everything outside of effort, is personally reflective of you, and effort can be added if you do not take it seriously. This is a key evaluative time as a coach, and for feedback to the players.

Prior to entering coaching and teaching, I was a project manager/designer for a large commercial construction company. There are a tremendous about of instances that I experienced in this position that could correlate to coaching.
Lets look at another chart. Have you ever worked in the professional world, where you had to manage
people? The project will only be profitable if the workers complete their task with ownership. The project manager explains the plan, and the preparation needed for the project. This biggest worry I had as a project manager was actually managing the people. When my crews were taking ownership on a project it was successful, when other crew members did not, there was deficiencies. The idea is to take ownership in your position, be a team member, and look to help the whole as an integral part. If you have higher goals in your coaching career, it is imperative to be apart of a great staff. This is your network, other schools notice your finished product and it is your advertisement. Your opponent each week studies and watches your players, and how they produce more than any other person. If the linebackers are playing good, and your the linebackers coach, this is evidence of your ability. Your players are your billboard.

Enjoy the present. Social media can allow us to view opportunities all over the nation instantly. While this is a monumental tool in the art of coaching, we must understand, that we are only as valuable as our product produces in others eyes. So as you sit and may feel that you duties and titles as a position coach is not what you want, then make your product better, and people will take notice.

Written by: Patrick Taylor

Offensive Coordinator / North Surry High School / Toast North Carolina

Twitter: @patrick_taylor4

By | 2018-03-05T21:25:30-05:00 March 5th, 2018|Categories: Coaching, Defense, Featured, Offense|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

I am the Offensive Coordinator at North Surry High School, in Toast North Carolina. We run the Air Raid Offense, and have several books and Articles published. Inventor of Open Grass Reads Quarterback Training.

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