The first idea is the development of a team attitude. Develop a belief in the program. This starts with you, your coaches, your seniors, and your team. I never believed in saying anything about rebuilding a program. I went into four losing situations, but in each case I said that we expected to win in the first year.
It is a mistake to indicate to your present players that they are not good enough and that you need to rebuild before you can win. A coach does not win with players who he has already said are not good enough to win. We were not always successful in our first year, but never because we said we were rebuilding.
It is human nature to go into a new situation and be critical of the previous program and staff. The less said about the previous program to your team and the press, the better. Seniors are always the hardest to sell on a new program because they have been accustomed to a different way of doing things for the longest time. Sell the seniors, and you sell your program.
Everything we did in practice and meetings was intended to sell the team concept. Handouts, talks, videos, cookouts—every item and activity emphasized the team. The head coach must provide direction for the team. Otherwise, the coordinators of each phase will emphasize their own areas. Before each game coordinators went over their game plan in front of the whole team.
At halftime units met separately at first and then came together for a team meeting with the head coach. These are a few examples of what we did to emphasize the team. If you don’t emphasize the team, you will not have a team—you will have an organization of individuals and units.
For a team attitude to develop, discipline must be fair and consistent. Players will respect the coach if they feel that they are all equally important and if the coach treats them that way.
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