With football season underway across the country, some teams are putting together strong performances on the gridiron while other squads look like they aren’t on the same page just yet.
With that in mind, what’s the key to pulling the big upset or avoiding a surprise performance by a less-talented group? It all boils down to what your team does during the week each day to prepare for the next game.
Matt Hennesy, head football coach at Locust Grove (Oklahoma) High School, is a big believer that positive results on the field have a direct correlation to what the players and coaches do Monday through Thursday each week during the year.
“I feel that preparation is the most important part of the game,” Hennesy said. “I often get asked if I think the best team won, and my answer is always ‘Yes, the best team that night won.’
Hennesy has been involved with USA Football for several years as a head coach for some of the U.S. National Teams, and defensive coordinator for the U-19 World Championship squad. He points immediately to the amount of hours the winning team spends in the classroom as an example to follow.
“Often, (a team won) because they were the best prepared,” he said. “When you are prepared, in anything you do, you are more comfortable and can do your job more relaxed and to your greatest ability. I have had many teams that have not been as talented as our opponent, but we won because of preparation.”
Hennesy thinks it’s important for players and coaches to understand how crucial on-field work and film study is when leading up to the next competition, but it’s easier said than done. He points out that everyone wants to win, but not everyone wants to do what it takes to be victorious before the game begins.
The Locust Grove coach breaks down his key components to preparation in three specific areas:
1) Being organized – no wasted time
2) Attention to detail – don't assume your players know anything
3) Effort – you must be willing to practice the way you are going to play in a game
Looking further into those qualities, they all have one central connection. None of them require an ounce of talent.
Whether you’re a top team in the country or an upstart program looking to earn that signature win, make sure to cherish each hour of each day leading up to the battle on the gridiron. If you are truly serious about getting better as a player and a team, what you do during the week is the best and most important place to start.