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By Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs


As part of our larger research report on NCAA Player Development Study, we talked with Peter Fredenburg of University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX). His team went on to win the 2016 D3 National Championship. Find out what he said about that topic here...

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar

Editor’s Note: The following research was conducted as part of XandOLabs.com research report on NCAA Player Development Study. Continue reading for more information on this study.  

Case 1: Developing the Off-Season Mentality

mhbchampsIn this case, we studied what these coaches were doing in the off-season to develop the mental capacity of their players. We all know that it’s the cohesiveness and resilience of a football program that is developed from January to spring ball. We wanted to find out how head coaches were developing players in this area as it pertains to the following components:

  • A character development program
  • A leadership council among players
  • The infusion of a sports psychology program

While we found that the leadership council seemed to be the clear favorite of choice in developing players during the off-season, we found that coaches were using different criteria to select leaders and various activities that encourage these groups to promote the program.

Peter Fredenburg, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX): “We elect a unity council who then drafts members of the team to divide into teams. We use nine leaders for each team and they draft the rest of the players whom we call them coaches within their team. We ask them to be involved in campus activities. We will also have a Sports Information Director in each group whose job it is to enhance the ability of that team to grow by attending activities. These guys work with local high schools and elementary schools to read to local kids.  We keep up with them on a weekly basis by meeting with them each week. There is nothing more powerful than peer pressure in my opinion. Once they draft a team member, these leaders stay with them. The leader of the team meets with players regularly to develop team chemistry. We ask them to be involved with community service. They do in the off-season, what we do in the fall.”

Case 2: Developing the Off-Season Physicality

Ask any successful head coach what separates their program from others in the off-season, and he will tell you the weight program. Such was the case with the twelve head coaches that contributed to this report. So, we wanted to study how they were developing their weight program, particularly their am mat drills. We wanted to find out how they (along with their strength and conditioning coach) were developing culture of competition in the weight room and getting players to compete at their highest level when expected to. Some of the components we covered include the following:

  • Distinction of weight program (mat drills, etc.)
  • Integration of Nutrition
  • Creating a culture of competition

Peter Fredenburg, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX): “For us, each leadership council team competes against the others to any number of competitions which includes lifting tests. We manage and measure growth in strength and conditioning and each team is rewarded.”

Case 3: Developing the In-Season Mentality

Once the season starts in fall camp, collegiate head coaches get tied up with the continual routine of game prep, injury reports and media requests so it becomes challenging to check in with active (and inactive) players. But we’ve found the most successful coaches take the time weekly, even daily to track the pulse of their players. This could come in the form of individual meetings, classroom sessions or even outings and the focus is completely on their well-being. Some of the components we covered include the following:

  • Fostering the one on one interaction of student-athletes (personal relationships)
  • Finding ways to motivate players during a long season
  • Working with injured players
  • Developing accountability in academics

Peter Fredenburg, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX): “We’ve got a place on campus called a Center for Academic Excellence that monitors their progress. We also have a graduate assistant who monitors their success. If we have issues of class attendance, we have individual tutoring free of charge for any student on campus that is struggling. The leader of the unity council member also will address it.”


Case 4: Developing the In-Season Physicality

In this case, we were curious to find how coaches were getting their players to compete at a high level week in and week out. At the FCS, Division 2 and Division 3 level a football season could last up to 15 games. How do these successful programs keep its edge without getting worn out by the daily grind? How do these coaches navigate through constant injury, which was the case for Coach Stitt’s program at Montana who went through three quarterbacks the entire season? Some of the components we covered include the following:

  • Adjusting scheme to fit personnel yearly (keeping the process of consistency)
  • Developing 2nd/3rd unit players to be game ready

Peter Fredenburg, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX): “To me, it’s about playing with tremendous effort. That’s the think that we really emphasize. We talk about six seconds of great effort. Our players have now demanded it from each other. We spend a lot of time talking about great effort. We coach it, we point it out, and we show it.”


Bonus Case: Working with Today’s Student-Athletes

With today’s world of instant gratification and with the inundation of a social media environment, we were curious to see how these coaches were working with players in this generation. So, we asked contributors the following question:

What is something you’ve done to adjust your coaching methodology or personality when working with today’s student-athletes?

Peter Fredenburg, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX): “Once you have a mutual trust, they can count on you to do what you say you’re going to do. At that point, you can ask them to do anything. They know how much I care about them. I’m interested in them being as great a player they can be and as great a person as they can be. It’s what I go to bed thinking about and it’s what I wake up thinking about.”

Get the Full Report…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders, an exclusive membership-based website, and you’ll get instant access to the full-length version of this report – including access to everything X&O Labs has ever published. Plus, if you join today, you’ll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your home or office. Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find in the full-length version of this report:

  • What these coaches are doing to develop the off-season mental development of their student-athletes, including character development programs, leadership councils and infusions of sports psychology.
  • What these coaches are doing to create a culture of competition in their off-season programs.
  • How these coaches are fostering the one-on-one interactions with their student-athletes in the in-season, balancing a rigorous time demands and academic responsibilities.
  • How these successful coaches are able to adapt their scheme to fit their personnel on a yearly basis and how they are able to prepare second and third unit players to be game ready.

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In XandOLabs.com research report on NCAA program development, we asked these same questions to the following coaches:

Contributors (in Alphabetical Order)

  • Chris Ash, Head Football Coach, Rutgers University
  • Glenn Caruso, Head Football Coach, University of St. Thomas (MN)
  • Mark Farley, Head Football Coach, University of Northern Iowa
  • PJ Fleck, Head Football Coach, Western Michigan University
  • Peter Fredenburg, Head Football Coach, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX)
  • Vince Kehres, Head Football Coach, Mount Union University (OH)
  • Chris Klieman, Head Football Coach, North Dakota State University
  • Ron Korfmacher, Head Football Coach, Taylor University (IN)
  • Matt Mitchell, Head Football Coach, Grand Valley State University (MI)
  • Tim Murphy, Head Football Coach, Harvard University
  • Bob Stitt, Head Football Coach, University of Montana
  • John Steigelmeier, Head Football Coach, South Dakota State University


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