Coaching Philosophy: In A Word

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By Bill Shepard, Quarterbacks Coach, Rockford University

Much can be said about the English language. It has not only changed – but has become vital – in the motivation, instruction and development of a football player. Young people of today have used technology to launch their own language and effectively communicate using it.

At times as adults and coaches, we feel if we communicate with them with technology, whether email, text messaging, or cell phone, that like James Bond we have broken the code and are now in the secret club. Yet words can be powerful motivational tools to help players stay focused, direct them to the right location for success on a play and even learn how to develop a technique during a drill that will improve their play.

This article is about using words to motivate your athlete to become the mentally focused, self-motivated and best football player they can be.

Our “Word for the Week/Day” is every bit as important as the scouting report, drills, practice schedule and even scheme to be used for our opponent. It is carefully chosen to help the student/athletes do what we believe is best and prepare for the task at hand.


When we stretch and do form running, it is used. When the horn sounds at the end of practice periods, players gather together and break saying the word. When a player or coach needs to remind other players of their lack of effort or recognize other for their great effort, the word is used.

Words are unique and important, especially to football players.

Explaining the meaning and use of the word helps the player to connect to school, yet it can also be the tool to clear the head and help the athlete get into practice. It is the reminder of effort needed and the opportunity to bond together as a team. Motivational sayings and words are incorporated on t-shirts, signs and even descriptions in newspapers in relationship to teams and players.

The “Word of the Week/Day” can help to turn your practice, program or players around, pointing them in the right direction. It is another opportunity a coach can use to help connect with the players. They can see the coach in the roles the coach intended: motivator, leader and director. It can be a little thing that can unify your team and internally motivate players to achieve, succeed and develop unity.

Bill Shepard has been involved in coaching football for over 25 years. He has served as an either an assistant, coordinator, and/or head coach at both the college and high school level. He has written articles, authored a video series and worked many camps during those years. He is a teacher at Durand High School in Durand, Ill., coaches quarterbacks at Rockford University, and resides with his wife Sue in Rockford, Ill.

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