Sunday, August 15, 2010

Leadership Development Part 2

Pic courtesy of

As the 2010 football season has begun, teams at all levels around the country are finding out who their leaders will be for the upcoming season. This post is building off the leadership development program I personally use throughout the season with my own players.

How many times have you heard a coach say, “He should have known how to do _____________________.” We as coaches often feel this way about our team leaders, that they should know naturally how to lead. The fact is that more and more every year, we have players who struggle to understand what a leader is, and how their role plays an important part of the season’s success. The main idea behind leadership development and huddle group meetings is to teach how to become a leader.

As a coach, understanding where your team is at physically and mentally is an extremely important part of leadership development. You must know your team’s needs and issues, so that you can use them as topics during your huddle group meetings, and address them with your leaders.

Before I break down how meetings are run, I want to stress how vital it is to build a rapport with your leaders. As that rapport is built with your leaders, they will understand that you are there for them and any decision that is made, is made with their best interest intended. Also, you are creating an atmosphere in which the players can be open and trust you as a coach. Without these components, players will not open up in the meeting and examine themselves as leaders of the team.

Meeting Breakdown
Each meeting is to have a main topic that relates to your team. During huddle group meetings, I use a three-part system of a warm-up, discussion, and reflection. Meetings run between 45 minutes to an hour, and the players are on topic and focused during this time. Head coaches, this is also a great opportunity to bring in an assistant coach to speak about the topic and how it relates to that coach.

I will be providing a short part of my handouts that I give my players in italics below. For this example, we will use the topic of goal setting.

The warm-up is used to get the player’s focus on the topic of the meeting. Players often come into the meeting with many things on their mind, including homework, family issues, college pressure and significant others. The following is the format that I use during the warm-up phase:

1. Quote covering the topic of the meeting
2. Questions covering the definition of the topic and why it is important.

This is a short format that gets their attention and motivates the player to be on task and ready to discuss becoming a better leader.


Goal Setting

(1) “Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.” - Aristotle

(2) Why do you believe it is important to set goals?

The purpose of the discussion is to open up the mind of the player. Learn how they feel about the topic, and also how their teammates feel about the topic. The following is the format that I use during the discussion phase:

1. Explanation of the topic
2. Reinforcement on why the topic is important and how it applies to our football team
3. Lasting thought about the topic and how important it is to the player becoming a young man.

The discussion part is the most important part of the huddle group meeting. Players are to participate in the discussion of the topic, and give their input. I have often left meetings excited that players shared their opinions and beliefs during this time, which brought us closer together as a team.

Goal Setting

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART approach.


For example instead of having “Help my team win” as a goal, it is more powerful to say “Become a leader to help my team win conference in the 2010 football season.”

(2) Guidelines

• State each goal as a positive statement
• Be precise
• Set priorities
• Write goals down
• Set performance goals, not outcome goals
• Set realistic goals

(3) Staying the Course

Once you have decided to set your goals, you must continue to work towards these goals by reviewing and updating your list on a weekly basis. Without goals, you will never know what course you are on.

The purpose of the reflection is to reinforce what the player has just learned about during the meeting. This is also a good time to have the player write down their personal feelings to questions that are provided by the coach. The following is the format that I use during the reflection phase:

1. Quick summary of what the topic means and why it is important.
2. Reflection questions covering how the topic affects the TEAM, the individual, their family, and their academics.
3. Reinforcing quote about the topic


Goal Setting
(1) Without goals, we are nothing but wondering nomads. It is important for us as individuals to constantly be setting goals and updating them.

For your reflection homework, you are to choose five short-term goals from the following topics:

(2) Topics of Goals

- Attitude
- Caring/Giving
- Career
- Education
- Family
- Financial
- Physical (Health/Fitness)
- Pleasure
- Public Service
- Team

Fill out the following chart with to help organize and keep track of your plans


Short Term Goals How I plan on accomplishing my goals Two week progress Four week progress

(3) The core elements that you have been taught so far will help you reach your goals.

“Keep your heart invested, Maintain your focus, and Play for your TEAM!”
-Coach Hjorth

This is a brief overview of a weekly meeting with huddle group leaders. Again, these are only parts of a 45-minute to hour-long meeting. Throughout my experience, teaching your players to become leaders will not only help your season go smoother, but will help mold this player into a responsible young man.

For the upcoming blogs, I will be moving into more X’s and O’s of the offense, defense and special teams. If you have any suggestions, or would like me to breakdown something that has been confusing to you, please feel free to contact me at Happy start to the 2010 season, and good luck!

Coach Hjorth