The professionalism of coaches must be respected

By Stephen Spiewak | Posted 5/5/2017

Washington University in St. Louis head coach Larry Kindbom wants to remind people that, when it comes to upholding the wellbeing of players, it’s a team effort.

Kindbom, a recent guest of the USA Football Coach and Coordinator podcast, believes that advocating for players is an effort that must include coaches, alongside administrators, trainers, medical professionals and others.

The NCAA recently implemented practice guidelines that eliminated two-a-day practices during the preseason for college football teams of all levels, instead allowing teams a single window of up to three hours.

For Kindbom, whose team must confront the reality of the harsh St. Louis summers, a three hour-long practice is out of the question—and has been for some time.

“I don’t know if any of our practices go more than two, two-and-a-half hours because of our weather conditions,” Kindbom said.

Rather, Kindbom had been working with his trainers to explore the possibility of two shorter, 90-minute practices, allowing the players plenty of time to rest in between and limiting prolonged exposure to the elements.

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With the new practice guidelines, that will no longer be an option or consideration for his program, which will now operate under the same umbrella as teams in other parts of the country dealing with different variables.

Kindbom just wishes he and other coaches could have had a larger voice in the discussion, since many in the profession have pioneered reform long before it became legislated.

“Discussions never became part of that plan,” Kindbom said. “I still believe that’s where our professionalism as coaches could come in.”

Kindbom pointed to the news that emerged last spring that the Ivy League was moving to eliminate tackling from practice.

The measures that the Ivy League is taking to create a more optimal practice is something that Kindbom welcomes—and something that he believes most coaches have already quietly done in their respective programs.

“What they proposed is a similar kind of schedule to just about what everybody does,” he said. “What they did is put it out on paper. Good for them that they did that.

“Most coaches would probably look and say, ‘That’s what we do.’”

Coaches are proactively trying to improve the game, not simply waiting for an announcement to drive them to act. What it comes down to, for Kindbom, is coaches having a seat at the table.

“We need to get the football professionals in there with the equipment professionals, medical professionals, trainers,” he said. “That’s where we make ground in terms of what we’re trying to get done.”