Why football coaches should try a more positive approach with players when breaking down game film

By Seth Galina | Posted 7/13/2018

This tweet by former NFL player Geoff Schwartz reminded me of how bad of a football coach I was (and still am?).

I didn’t have a lot of time during positional meetings, so I would channel my coaching efforts on the bad stuff. The interceptions, the bad reads, the sacks. That was it. We didn’t have time to watch every snap, so I singled out the negatives in an effort to correct them. My idiot self thought the positives would just magically stay positive and if we could just iron out the the negative plays, we’d be set.

Unfortunately, I’ve found coaching is like this classic gag from Ice Age:

You can try to just plug the holes you can see, but by neglecting the player as a whole, you end up drenched, figuratively speaking.

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Positive reinforcement is incredibly valuable to an athlete. You can’t instill confidence in a kid by only harping on the bad plays. Create a playlist of his good plays to remind him that he can play at a high level.

I even flip the script now and show more positive plays then negative ones in a film room session, even if the kid had a horrid game. It’s just football, you know. I’m not trying to destroy some doe-eyed  kid. If he wants to be destroyed, he can play me in FIFA. What I try to do is find ways to seemingly “gloss over” the negatives while in the classroom and then work on those negatives on the field. Give the kid confidence by showing him good plays so then you can work on the bad things on the field with a positive mindset.

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles recently talked about how he felt he gained confidence going into last season’s playoffs by watching a bunch of great plays he’s made throughout his career:

I like the idea that you could create a playlist of the your kids’ best plays even if they really don’t have anything to do with the current game plan or opponent you’re seeing. Get the kid’s confidence up at all costs. Show him that he can play at a high level. A kid with talent but no confidence is a low commodity.

I also think most meeting rooms are not conducive to learning. The amount of times I’ve had to fight off the inevitably of falling asleep in a dark classroom is too numerous to note. I’m someone who loves watching film and I still have trouble staying awake in those types of environments. Imagine the kid who just spent a day at school, and maybe his crush looked at him by accident and now he has all these emotions that he’s never felt before and you’re trying to teach him that his foot should be at 56 degrees instead of 23 degrees.

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One of my pet peeves in the film room is rehashing the same error repeatedly.

“Brandon, when it’s Zippi Left you gotta step with you left foot first.”

“OK, coach.”

*the next clip in a meaningless run skelly period on a Wednesday 3 weeks before the first game*

“Brandon … same thing with your feet”

All you’re doing is wasting time. You’ve seen the issue, you’ve addressed it. You don’t need to tell the kid over and over again, in front of his peers, especially if it’s the same mistake. See the error on film, fix it on the field.

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I believe we should make the film process more interactive. You don’t play the game from your seat so we should get the players to get up and practice getting into some of the techniques we’ll be using on the field. I’m also always bopping around when I run meetings, but I feel like when the athletes see me get animated and show the techniques they should be using, it keeps them engaged. Keep it moving, keep it lively and have a plan.

I’m trying to change. Will the results be immediate, and will they even be tangible? Who knows? All I know is that what I was doing was wrong and I can correct it.

Follow Seth Galina on Twitter: @SethGalina


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