The time is coming for playoff season to begin on the high school level. Teams have been working towards the playoffs since the first weight was lifted at the end of the 2009 season. It is a culmination of all the hard work, discipline, and enjoyment that a team has had during the regular season.
During the regular season, as coaches, we have figured out which players fit best into positions and schemes. The playoffs are a time for these players to play “Big.” I believe that playing “Big” is best defined as making critical and crucial plays. Big time players have a knack for making that key touchdown block or interception. They use their will to motivate their teammates, and always find a way to make that big play. Players like this are a great asset to a program, and can have lasting effects for years to come.
The NFL calls these “Big” players playmakers. They are the ball-hawks, the weightroom and video junkies that have been hungry all season for their shot at making “Big” plays. A great example of a playermaker in the NFL last season was Tracy Porter from the New Orleans Saints. He made two critical interceptions in the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl (against legendary QBs Brett Favre and Peyton Manning) that helped propel his team to become champions. When Porter was asked how he made the plays, he stated that he studied film and anticipated the routes. He made himself into a playmaker, and helped his team become World Champions.
As a coach, I like to challenge my players to rise to the occasion. Each playoff game brings more pressure, and as a high school athlete, one can either fight or plight the pressure they feel during the playoff games. You want them to fight for their teammates, coaches, school and community. This is a trait in playmakers, they never quit, never surrender. Encourage your athletes to use that pressure and nervous energy and convert it into playmaking energy. This is the time of year to build confidence in your players, and they will have confidence in you. If you follow this model, you will see your players turn into playmakers.
Most importantly, enjoy this special time of year.
Good luck to all the players and coaches around the country, and always rise to the challenge of being playmakers.- Coach Hjorth