After nearly seven months and all the off-season work, the NFL regular season is finally here. What better way to kick-off the season then a rematch of Super Bowl 50?
Both teams will look slightly different, but the one thing that will be unchanged from the Super Bowl, is our C2P systems and the coaches ability to communicate with the QB's & LB's. Our guys are ready to help both teams #Hear2Win.
Best of luck to all the NFL teams, we look forward to another great season!
We are entering Week 4 (and the final week) of the NFL preseason...So far, so good. It has been busy getting all the kinks worked out, but we are eagerly anticipating the start of another season.
In College Football, we have a number of teams that are using Coach to Player ™ Helmet Communications to develop their athletes and to maximize every minute of practice. We've been thrilled with the feedback we've received on how they are using it to bring their athletes along...transfer QB now a starter, backups pushing multi-year starters for playing time, scout team players giving starters a better look and defensive backs recognizing personnel packages quicker than ever.
The High School market is an interesting one. We only have a few teams that are using C2P in practice, but the interest from others has been tremendous. Obviously, teams want to use what the pros are using, but the learning curve for young kids has been the biggest area of focus. Oh...and the tempo in which a team is practicing at is allowing them to get in more reps without adding minutes to practice.
Overall, we're excited for another season and can't wait to work with your program and help you #Hear2win!
Providing feedback is the number one way you can help your players improve. The challenge of course is wondering not only if will they use that feedback, but if they will even listen.
There are three important things to keep in mind when providing feedback:
1. What you say. Choosing your words and choosing your tone are very important when communicating with your athletes. No one likes to be made foolish or put down. When a player knows that you have their top performance and their success in mind, they will respond to both positive and negative criticism and can thrive. A positive tone, encouraging words and showing them you have confidence in their abilities will go a long way.
2. How you tell them. Are you communicating with your players one-on-one? Do you speak to them in a group? One-on-one verbal communication is incredibly potent. There is less opportunity for misunderstanding. When you're communicating directly with a player one-on-one, he doesn't have to worry about the impressions of other players. You let him know that he is integral to the entire mission of the team.
3. When you tell them. The sooner you can give feedback to your players about their performance on the field the better. This allows them to connect that educational information to their muscle memory more quickly and easily for lasting impressions.
GSC's Coach-to-Player™ helmet communication allows you to communicate with your players during practice before and after each rep. You are able to give pointers and suggestions immediately. And you are able to choose whether you are communicating privately with your players or if the entire position group is in on the instruction.
Coaches Headsets have been around for years and helped revolutionize the game.
The value of Coaches Headsets is strictly on game days when the coaches need to coordinate strategies and manage game plans. They are able to get everyone on the same page and adjust to opponents, but really limited to use 10-12 times per season.
Helmet technology from GSC is revolutionizing each practice, which prepares athletes better than ever before. Now coaches can talk directly to players and coach them instantaneously with out interrupting tempo on the field.
Coach-to-Player (C2P) helmet technology shines as a practice tool and can be used for every practice. Coaches can teach during each repetition with multiple position groups. They are able to provide specific instruction for any player, make adjustments to the defensive line, install strategies quickly or provide instant feedback on the play. All without ever having to interrupt the tempo of practice.
C2P is designed to help develop players and maximize practice time. It can also be used with ANY existing Coaches Headset System.
"It's not about what the coaches standing on the sideline know, it's about what the players know."
Bob Sexton was the South Team Head Coach for the 2016 Nebraska Shrine Bowl. His job was to take 35 high school seniors and a handful of top coaches from across the state who have never worked together before and put together a winning football strategy in five days.
When GSC offered to lend its Coach-to-Player helmet communication to both teams of the Shrine Bowl, Coach Sexton was thrilled. He was familiar with the way C2P has helped the game of football in the NFL and was excited for the opportunity to use it in the Shrine Bowl.
Coach Sexton says that where C2P really shined was during practice. On the offensive side, C2P systems were provided to two quarterbacks connecting them to the Offensive Coordinator. The coach was able to signal the play and help with formations instead of having to come out to the huddle. Because the OC could do everything from the sidelines, they didn't have to stop practice to wait for him to get off the field. They were able to get more reps in and could speed up the tempo of practice.
On the defensive side, Coach Sexton made sure that his starting safety was connected to the C2P system. This allowed the coaches to be able to help the defense recognize formations and make adjustments, creating smarter players on the defensive side. This was an essential educational tool as many of the players have come from different backgrounds and didn't have the same level of experience.
"The primary benefit to using C2P as a part of practices was the ability to get more reps in. We were limited to only five days of practice, so the most we could get out of every minute, the better. The more reps you can get in during practice, the better the team will be for the game."
Coach Sexton was also impressed with the simplicity of the equipment itself and made sure that they were able to use C2P to its fullest advantage at every practice. He commented how it was the first thing his offensive coordinator would grab when he got to practice in order to get everyone set up and ready to go.
Overall, Coach Sexton recognized the advantage that C2P has for the future of football at every level.
"It's one more advantage. If you haven't tried C2P as a part of your practice, you just don't know what you're missing. The tempo of the game is speeding up. This technology helps your team get there."
The Nebraska Shrine Bowl features high school seniors from across the state in an annual all-star game for charity. This year, they practiced for 10 days leading up to a game on June 4, 2016 playing to raise money for the Shrine Children’s hospital.
GSC approached the Shrine Bowl to see if they would be interested in using Coach-to-Player helmet technology as a part of practice and on game day. GSC wanted to be able to see how much more quickly and efficiently the game strategies could be implemented with the use of the same type of technology they provide to the NFL and several colleges.
The Shrine Bowl coaches and athletes were thrilled.
Chad Fox is the head coach of the Wahoo, NE football team. He was chosen to be the North coach for the Nebraska Shrine Bowl. We asked Chad Fox his initial thoughts on C2P.
"I was surprised at how easy the set up was. After Alex first installed the systems, the players only needed to plug their battery in. I was surprised at how far away players could hear me on the field. It was very easy to communicate with the QBs since they were all wearing the receivers in their helmets.”
Chad used the C2P as a practice tool for the quarterbacks. He found that the systems were particularly helpful in communicating through the QBs to the running backs. He was able to offer on-the-field tips to players and found it very beneficial as a coaching tool for the short amount of time he had with his players.
One of the benefits that Chad discovered with C2P was the ability to give instant feedback to players. He was able to make private and immediate suggestions and could make more quick reminders than if he had to wait for the QB to come off the field.
“In this day and age we live in, players want that immediate feedback. Instant. They’ve been conditioned to this with the tech they live with in their everyday lives. The kids thrive on feedback. Provide it to them, and it makes the players better. Which makes your team better."
Coach Fox also thought that C2P can help teams overcome a lot of obstacles during practice. Without having to worry about wind or shouting, players are just able to hear instruction better with the C2P system directly in their helmets.
When asked if he would be worried if his opponents had C2P as part of their practices and he didn’t, he said,
“I wouldn’t like it. It gives a team a definite advantage especially in game preparations. Communication is critical in the game of football. Making it easier and more effective will only make your preparations for the game better as well."
The Nebraska Shrine Bowl is an end-of-the-year chance for graduating high school seniors to play one last game before moving on to their next opportunities. Seniors from all over the state of Nebraska are combined into North and South teams and are coached over a one week period (13 practices) by a new Head Coach with new offensive and defensive schemes. The entire experience culminates in the Shrine Bowl Game, this year played on June 4, with all of the proceeds from the game going to benefit Shrine Hospitals.
This year, GSC wanted to be able to give back to the community and test the latest editions of the Coach-to-Player (C2P) helmet communication systems by lending the technology to both teams to be used as part of practices and in the the game itself. GSC was interested in seeing how well the teams would be able to integrate plays and strategies into both newly formed teams that had never before worked with one another.
The Shrine Bowl organization was looking forward to being the first to use the C2P systems in a sanctioned game outside of the NFL.
“Most of the terminology was brand new to the kids. The players gained a quicker understanding of the systems we ran and at the tempo we wanted to run them. The coaching staff was excited about using the technology as it allowed us to get the most out of each rep both in drills and in our team time.” Chad Fox, North Team Head Coach.
During practice, both teams used the C2P technology to install their offenses and defenses. The helmet technology was installed in the helmets of two quarterbacks and one defensive player. This allowed the coach to communicate directly with the players and get everyone on the same page faster. There was no wasted time between plays, and coaches were amazed at how far along their teams could get in the learning process. The coaches realized that by not having to stop the plays to get a point across, they were able to get more reps in and further cement the offensive/defensive schemes with this new technology.
The athletes of course, were thrilled to be using C2P. "The players loved the systems. They wanted to keep them for forever," said Alex Shada, GSC's Director of Operations. "The look on their faces when they could hear their coaches directly in their helmets was priceless. 'I feel just like Tom Brady!'"
Our final blog in our series from "You Win in the Locker Room First" by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith talks about the final of the 7 C's: Care
Caring and dedication are easy ways to show how committed you are to your organization and the mission of what you're doing. But you want to make sure to show the people behind your organization how much you care as well.
Be known for the care that you put into what you're doing. When you care more, you put forth that extra effort, and that can be something that is hard to measure. That extra caring needs to start at the top. Caring becomes contagious and spreads from the coaching staff to the rest of the team.
Jon gives tips on ways to show that you care: notes, phone calls, or encouraging words to show people appreciation. These are all ways to show people that they matter. "Caring is the ultimate team-building strategy."
Mike Smith talks about how just the simple act of being present is a way to show the people you're with that you care about them. Mike talks about how important it is to value your team for who they are as individuals and not just for what they can do for the team. Everyone wants to feel valued and cared about.
Jon Gordon talks about developing a Caring Trademark, a way of showing your feelings for a player through a particular way. It could be thank you notes, or a newsletter or regular quick one-on-one meetings. Find what method works for you and then capitalize on it. So that when people receive your trademark, they know that it comes from the heart.
Mike and Jon wrap up the book by blending the 7 C's with two of the biggest C's: Coaching and Character.
Winning in the locker room doesn't mean you'll win on the field. It's not a guarantee. But when you look at how to create a positive culture of caring and can communicate and encourage an attitude of commitment and connectivity consistently, you're already ahead of the game before you even hit the field.
There are many great books about coaching and team building on the market today. We thought we would showcase some of them and give our thoughts on how to build a successful program both on and off the field.
Our review of the book, "You Win in the Locker Room First" by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith continues with the next two C's: Connect and Commitment.
Jon Gordon says that connection between players is the key to success. "Team beats talent when talent isn't a team."
Mike Smith echoes the importance of connectivity. It's hard to be connected when one part of a team is doing well and another part is struggling. He says that teams should ban finger pointing when things go badly and instead support each part of the team no matter what.
In order to develop connectivity, Mike Smith talks about the importance of face-to-face and heart-to-heart communication. He suggests (depending on the team) a "No Phone Zone," so the team can spend time communicating with one another instead of being tied to their mobile phones. There are benefits to unplugging a bit and shifting the team's focus on strengthening their personal relationships with each other.
Technology does have its place though. It can strengthen and reinforce relationships that have already been developed in-person. Coach Smith talks about how texting a player about a great performance or tweeting words of encouragement can really be helpful.
Make time to connect. Jon gives several examples of team-building exercises that teams have used. Some are internal, and some are external and tie in community service or fundraising events.
Commitment is a full-time thing. Your team needs to know that you are committed to their success. It needs to be shown, not just talked about.
Both Mike and Jon talk about focusing on the "We" not on the "Me." Do the little things to let people know how committed you are.
Both men stress that commitment starts at home. Make sure that you're putting in the time for your family. This will help your life be more balanced and actually reduce some of the stress in your life, when your foundation knows you're committed.
Commitment can be shown in doing what you don't have to do, but you do anyway in order to make the team better. When you help the team get better, you automatically get better.
Commitment is tied into sacrifice. Sacrificing something for the greater good of the team is the ultimate way to show your commitment.
Next week, we wrap up our series with the final C: Care and recap our thoughts of the book over all.
In this series of blogs, we are reviewing the new book from Jon Gordon and Mike Smith, You Win in the Locker Room First. This is a great book filled with tips, reminders and suggestions about how to build a team culture and create a winning attitude with not just players and coaches, but the entire organization.
The first blog in our series focused on the first two C's the book mentions, Culture and Contagious. This blog will highlight the next two C's in the book: Consistency and Communication.
Both Mike Smith and Jon Gordon talk about how consistency is the key to building trust among your organization. Staying true to who you truly are and being fully present in the moment with players and staff on a consistent basis will help you build the foundation for a strong culture. One of the best ways to remain consistent is to continue to try and improve and show your team your commitment.
Communication forms the foundation of any relationship. And when there are voids in communication, negativity has a tendency to fill those voids. The goal with communication is to have healthy and honest conversation. Being able to listen is extremely important as is being able to ask the right people the right questions. Both Mike and Jon talk about the importance of communicating on a one-on-one basis as much as you can with every member of the organization to get their buy-in and support.
Mike advocates creating themes in messaging for the team and then echoing those messages over and over. He suggests making sure to model the messaging as well as verbally repeat it to really hit home with the players. And sometimes it doesn't hurt to bring in outside voices to reinforce the message and present it to the organization in a slightly different way.
The next two C's in the book that we will tackle next week are Connect and Commitment.
In this new series, the GSC team will review some of the top coaching books on the market today and hopefully encourage you to read or even to share books or other materials that have impacted you and helped you become a better coach.
The first book that we are reviewing is "You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C's to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life" by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith. Mike Smith is the current Defensive Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and former Atlanta Falcons head coach. Jon Gordon is a consultant to many businesses and sports teams.
The first C that the book tackles is "Culture." Culture is an important piece of any team's winning strategy. We've talked about creating a positive culture in previous blogs.
Jon and Mike talk about how important it is to involve the entire organization in building a great team culture, not just the players and coaches, but everyone in the training room, on the administration side, assistants and supporters. John and Mike talk about how important it is to get everyone to share the same beliefs, values and goals. One of the ways to do that is to get people to read the same materials and share messaging.
One of the interesting things about this book is that Mike Smith talks about his successes, but he also talks about his mistakes. He talks about how it's important not to focus on goals for the team, but on achieving milestones and focusing on the process. He also talks about how quickly culture can change and how it's up to the coach to make sure that maintaing culture is more important than the outcomes.
The second C the book talks about is "Contagious." This refers to energy levels and how both positive and negative energy can affect the entire group. Jon Gordon talks about how important it is to stay positive and share that energy constantly with the organization. Contagiousness can be shared verbally and non-verbally.
Two of the themes that are addressed in this book and developed further in additional books by Gordon are those of Energy Vampires and the No Complaining Rule. Both concepts help teams stay positive by recognizing team members that tend to go negative and sway the positive focus of the group. The No Complaining Rule changes the team mindset to be one of appreciation and forward progress as opposed to being stuck in negative and limiting behavior.
In our next blog, we will touch on the next two C's from "You Win in the Locker Room First": Consistent and Communicate.
When recruiting student athletes, there are many factors to take into consideration, performance being pretty high on the list. Integrity is up there too, along with culture fit. But probably the most important quality of any student athlete is how well he can take instruction and be coached, his coachability.
Now athletes fall on the spectrum of coachability. Some kids simply are not able at all to be coached. They think they know it all. They have trust issues. They will not listen to suggestion or criticism. These players, regardless of their skill level, can bring the entire culture of a program down. It takes a coach with special communication skills to be able to handle a player like this and be able to work him into the team dynamic, if at all.
But most athletes have varying levels of coachablility. And it's that gray area where there are opportunities to improve your player's ability to listen and grow.
In order to improve your player's coachability, find out what is the motivation for your athlete to play the game. Find out specifically what that player's goals and dreams are. The answer to that question is not always just "winning." Tap into what drives them to play on a personal level.
Do they play because they want to make their parents proud? Do they play hard because they want recognition? Do they play for the little successes? Are they goal driven? Do they play for the legacy of the team? Do they play for each other? Finding out what really motivates your players will lay the groundwork for improving their coachability.
Once you find out what makes your players tick, you can communicate how your suggestions will help them get there. Show them in multiple ways. Show them in a team setting. Don't over promise, but show your athletes as clearly as you can, how your instruction will help them become the player that they want to be. Reinforce your vision with the team through open and honest communication, and the strength of your relationship will lay the groundwork for improved coachability.
Whether they are NFL-bound or looking for success in the boardroom, you are coaching your student athletes to greater success after college ends. Remind them that you are dedicated to their success beyond next Saturday, beyond next season. You want to help them realize that they are #Hear2Win.
Experts say that any game is won weeks before the kickoff ever happens. Teams start the winning process during the conditioning and practice sessions weeks before the season begins. Solid practice is essential in making players both physically and mentally strong enough to compete and win. And one of the keys to having a successful practice, is maintaining the tempo.
Maintaining the tempo of practice means there's no downtime. Not a second is wasted as the team moves from one play to another or repeats the same rep until players get it right.
There are three reasons why tempo is so important for the game of football.
1. Energy--Maintaining the tempo of practice is good because it keeps the energy of the entire team up. Energy is infectious and having a strong, vibrant energy will take a physically talented team to the next level.
2. Get in more reps--Maintaining the tempo of the practice means no down time, so a team can get more reps in. More reps mean more opportunities for coaching tips to stick.
3. Keeping players engaged--Being able to maintain the tempo of practice helps keep players minds engaged on what's going on. Rather than getting distracted or bored, athletes are able to focus on the task at hand and truly engage throughout the entire practice.
Great coaches know how to get their athletes to do more than perform. As a coach, your job is to teach your players how to become better and smarter after every rep, after every play. And teaching your players successfully can be a tricky business, especially since everyone has a unique learning style.
Researchers in Britain named Peter Honey and Alan Mumford categorized four different learning styles in order to assess and recognize the way people learn the best.
Activists need to dive right in and start doing. They learn best by experimenting and trying things out. They tend to be pretty outgoing and get excited about doing new things.
On the field, consider having activists try out several different options when it comes to a play. Or consider having them adjust each rep slightly. They tend to be fairly open-minded and can learn through the experience itself.
Reflectors are analysts, looking back on past experiences for their best information. They also do well watching others and then analyzing their activity for the best learning experience.
On the field, consider having Reflectors watch your Activists try different approaches for each play. They can see what works and learn from watching.
Theorists like to know the whys and the hows about things. These are your athletes who like to know why certain drills are being used and what strategies are in play on the field.
These are the guys who enjoy doing research on other teams and understanding the theories behind the plays. They also have a tendency to understand the opposing team as well can can be very intuitive on the field.
Pragmatists like to know how what they are learning will benefit them in an actual game experience.
On the field, it's important to run scrimmages similar to what they'll be experiencing on game day. While open to new ideas and experiences while learning, they prefer to rely on what they've mastered in practice on game day.
While there are four different learning styles, Honey and Mumford insist that there are more than one way people learn. Most of us learn in several different ways and blends of those styles.
The key to successful coaching is to figure out the way your athletes learn best. And then teach them how to learn.
Two seasons ago, Nebraska became the first collegiate team to use the GSC Coach-to-Player practice systems and have been using them in some capacity since. With the second year of Mike Riley as head coach, Nebraska again used the C2P systems throughout the spring to help specifically in the development of their quarterbacks, but they've discovered that the systems have helped the team as a whole with cleaner practices and more repetitions.
This past weekend, the Huskers used the C2P systems during the spring scrimmage with Offensive Coordinator Danny Langsdorf using the system for play calling while continuing to mentor his quarterbacks.
The GSC team came in and set up the system to be integrated into the existing coaches intercom system. This allowed for the play caller to call the play to the QB while the other coaches could hear the call as well. Keeping everyone on the same page.
One of the advantages to using the C2P system during practices like this is that the team is able to realize consistent play by all of the QB's. Because they are able to listen in on every play, they are able to hear instant feedback from the coaches and make adjustments during that practice. They don't have to wait until the following day and can learn from coach’s instruction provided to the other QB's.
With the ability to get more repetitions during every practice of spring ball, GSC's C2P systems not only help the QB's develop themselves, but can help the entire team.
We're getting close to that time of year. Spring ball is wrapping up, and fall training is a few months away. Summer is a time for both the body and the mind to rest. And rest is so important.
Rest is essential for the body to regenerate. Physically, rest allows the muscles to replenish glycogen and repair body tissue. It's the regeneration phase when the body (and mind) really develop.
There have been many studies done about the condition of overtraining, but it's always a good idea to take a break when you notice the following symptoms:
- Moodiness and depression
- Overall fatigue that doesn't go away after brief rests
- Decreased appetite
- Increased illness and injuries
- Altered sleep patterns.
This depression could dampen the overall competitive desire. And a team that doesn't really want to win, won't.
Physical rest is good for the body and can help the recovery process. One of the easiest ways to get physical rest is to sleep. Sleep deprivation makes it harder for the body to maintain endurance. It also raises the cortisol levels and decreases human growth hormones which are essential during tissue repair. Sleep helps mental health, hormonal balance and muscular recovery.
Mental rest, however is just as important as physical rest for competitive athletes. Taking a break and enjoying activities that are not a part of training are important for getting quality mental rest.
The benefits of mental rest include:
- Increased alertness and focus
- Help with visualization
- Improved learning
- Enhanced mood (which helps the entire team.)
So, enjoy the time off. Get plenty of sleep. Chill with friends. Bring on the Netflix marathon. Fall will be here before you know it.
Winners win because they believe, without a doubt, that they can. Winning isn't just trying not to lose. It takes focused, positive energy to take players from envisioning their best performance and combining it with the forward momentum of the team to win.
We are surrounded by negativity everyday: news and social media, fan criticism, self-doubt. It is imperative that the team environment be buoyed by as much of a positive culture as can be generated, and that positivity begins with the coach.
Researchers in sport psychology suggest that 80%-90% of reinforcement from a coach should be positive.* On the field feedback should reward positive behavior in the form of what a player might best respond to. What should you use for your carrot? Ask your players.
For some players, verbal or nonverbal praise may be just the ticket to creating that positive culture. Consider taking that step once further by encouraging the player to also spread that praise to teammates when they are truly doing well. And consider having the player acknowledge his successes to himself. This will help stave self-doubt and provide a platform for intrinsic motivation.
Beyond rewards for positive behavior, providing an environment for success can go a long way in establishing a culture of positivity. Set challenges that are just outside your athletes' comfort zones, but make them attainable. Allow your players to push themselves and know that success is achievable, again and again.
While some coaches see some success with negative reinforcement, that success is temporary. You are not just building a team player by player and season by season. You are building an entire culture that will constantly evolve and stand on its own, a legacy if you will. A legacy of positivity will help you attract top talent and create successful futures for your athletes long after they come off the field.
Although successful seasons can -- and often are -- forged in spring football, there is no set routine to the way spring camps transpire. Unlike the college football season -- when the game each Saturday dictates, to a great degree, how coaches structure their preparation week -- spring camp allows coaches to get creative with how they work out their teams.
Each program gets 15 practices in the spring. Usually, programs try to schedule two or three practices per week, and there's typically a spring break to negotiate in there, as well. Years ago -- and it's still somewhat true today -- programs just waited for spring break to end before they started their camps, working four weeks non-stop. But that approach can eat into important recruiting and evaluation periods.
So many schools will start spring practice in late February or early March and work around the spring break. Some will practice for a couple weeks, let the players go on break, and then return to practice after coaches have evaluated a few weeks' worth of film. Some programs choose to practice during spring break -- like Michigan, which moved its operation to South Florida for a week, allowing players to enjoy the beach when they weren't practicing.
Many programs -- although not all -- turn the 15th practice into a game with officials, a game clock and sometimes a big crowd. Ohio State, Alabama, Nebraska, Michigan and Auburn are among those programs that draw the biggest crowds, and those schools tend to turn those spring games into recruiting events that attract prospects to campus. And Kansas State chose to take its 2015 spring to a soccer stadium outside Kansas City. Other schools -- generally smaller -- prefer something more scaled down for a final practice.
What programs choose to work on during those 15 spring practices can also vary. Some, like Ohio State, like to have a firm depth chart by the end of spring camp, so the environment -- and the meaning of the spring game -- is pretty significant. Other programs ditch all concerns of depth charts and just have players focus on improving their skills day to day. That generally means competition is moved to the first part of fall camp.
When it comes to deciding how much or how little a coach should install of his offense or defense, you'll find differences, as well. Some programs prefer to focus on what they do well already -- their identity, if you will -- while others underline where they struggled the previous season and focus first on that. Strength vs. weakness is perhaps one of the biggest differences in approach.
No one method is better or worse, necessarily, so long as coaches and players communicate well and know the expectations.