How to Navigate Clinic Season
As most coaching staffs and programs around the midwest are putting together their summer plans and schedules, almost everyone has wrapped up their clinic tour. I will use this blog post to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly that I have experienced during clinic seasons over the past eight years and how, as a group, we can work to enhance our winter and spring months going forward.
I will start off by saying this: I truly enjoy clinic season. It is an absolute blast to be able to get away for a few days and focus with 500 other people on the game we all love. I think the time that is spent with a majority of your staff is invaluable, therapeutic, and truly what coaching is all about. It is quality time among a group of people who are all chasing the same goals. Your truly part of a family on a football staff, and clinic season is like Christmas Eve for us. A time that the band gets back together and shares in some debauchery.
For a number of years I have been guilty of going to clinics based on the fact that I love Iowa City and the Hawkeyes. I also enjoyed the proximity in which we used to live to Ames, especially with Mat Campbell, the buzz around what they are doing is astronomic. So we always made a valiant effort to try to get to their campuses to see and learn from some of the best staffs in Division 1 football. Here was the problem, THEY LIVE IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WORLD THAN WE DO. It took me a few years and looking through old notebooks to realize that, I wasn’t really bringing much back from clinics for our program, other than a headache and some funny stories. I wanted to learn more about how people who were in the trenches, were running practices, what drills worked for them, and from a scheme point, how they hide the 5’8 125 lb little Timmy. I just wasn’t getting what I needed from D1 coaching staffs, or from the largest high school staffs around the midwest. But again, this was my fault because I was too naive to do my research ahead of time of the presentations I would be attending and identify what I intended to get from them.
I think I speak for everyone when I say this: NO-ONE CARES ABOUT ALL THE FANTASTIC STATISTICS THAT YOU PRODUCED OR MANUFACTURED. All of us can spin and make our stats look however we want them to be portrayed. It isn’t hard. We lead the state of Minnesota in interceptions, on 3rd down, when we were up by 14, and the temperature was above 32 degrees. NO-ONE CARES!!! If a clinician starts his presentation with this sort of stuff, he will lose my limited attention within minutes. I listened to a presenter this winter talk about how he knew Gus Malzahn through a cousin’s, brother’s, friend of a friend, who might have waved at him on the interstate. And to top it off, for $20 you could buy a DVD of how to watch video of Auburn run offensive plays and how his 6A team mimicked those exact plays. I wish I was joking. Unfortunately, I’m sure I’m not alone in this. All of you reading this can picture being in a horrible presentation that you didn’t get anything from.
How can we make clinic season more valuable to everyone’s staff, and at the same time, keep the comradery that comes along with going to clinics as a staff?
I have some ideas:
- Do your research before you chose to go to a clinic. Look at the presenters list before you register and make sure that you can identify a lot of presentations that will add value to your program.
- Try to connect with another staff that is going to the same clinic you are, and set time aside that both of your programs, who ideally have the same climate/environment that your program has, can meet up and share some ideas.
- When your going to a clinic, do everything in your power to get your entire staff to join you, including JH or Youth program coaches. They are just as important to your success as anything, so why wouldn’t you invite them to feel like they are a part of your family?
- Have a goal! As a staff, as a position coach, and as a program you need to go into clinic season with an idea on what needs to improve or some concept/technique that you want to learn more about. You have to leave there with a better understanding for your program going forward.
- Visit the booths!! Every clinic has retailers set up throughout their presentation area. It’s easy to say “We can’t afford that” or “We don’t need that”. How do you know that? It does no harm to network, get pricing, and take back some information to the people who write checks for your program. I have always found this to be true: The answer is always NO if you never ask.
Clinic season should be a time that you and your staff grow, not only individually, but as a group as well. Everyone has positive and negatives to their clinic experiences, but I hope from this article you are able to relate to what everyone has been through, how to prepare for clinic season 2019, and how to take what you learn from a clinic and use it with your staff.
Written by John Kesselring