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By Tony Hurps, Defensive Coordinator/Strength & Conditioning, Berne Union High School (OH)

We continue our 21 Hour Program Development series with this article on creating winning culture by finding ways to help your players compete and have fun. Read it here...


By Tony Hurps
Defensive Coordinator/Strength & Conditioning
Berne Union High School (OH)
Twitter: @Coach_Hurps



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Editor’s Note: For more strategies on how football programs are building super-cultures that are building iron-clad buy-in from players, parents and admin, check out our latest study: The 21-Hour Football Program


In the majority of my experiences at both the high school and college level of coaching football, I have been tasked or have assisted in turning the football team around into a winning program. In every one of these situations, the project is really about improving the program’s culture. It has been my belief that the only way to do that is by creating change during the off-season.

The majority of my coaching experience has been at small schools, and many of our players play multiple sports (which is encouraged), but also makes it difficult to make sure the players continue to train and build the culture we desire.

As much as we would like to believe that all of our players love football as much as we do, that is just not true. Many of our players do not watch any football at all unless they are watching film with us. Because of this, we are challenged with the task of creating that love in other ways.

Like others, we have faced excuses from players and obstacles to overcome during the off-season:

  • It isn’t fun
  • It takes too much of my free time
  • It is painful to train
  • I am participating in other sports
  • The off-season is “my time”

With that as a background/challenge, I attack the offseason with two main priorities in mind. My number one priority as a coach is to keep my players safe. The second priority is to make it fun. The off-season is a great time to have fun with our players, and that is what we do to help build that culture of trust, effort, competition, and, ultimately, winning. It helps to get players talking about football all year long in a positive light.

We use three key group activities to help build the culture that will help our players be successful during the season for our team and to be successful in life. These activities include: The Draft, GPA, and Boccer.

Continue to the full-length version of this report…

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  • The “Draft” process Coach Hurps and his staff uses to develop leaders in the program.
  • How he uses “GPA” to motivate players by rewarding individual competition winners.
  • Details on how the game of “Boccer” stimulates competition and gets his players in better shape during the off-season.

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We want our culture to include great effort in all that they do, absolute trust from all team members and coaches, and to develop great men. Everything that we do is geared to this, but we know there will be hurdles to overcome in regards to keeping players working out and fully engaged.

At Berne Union, we want as many students out for football that we can, and one way to do this is to incorporate many small competitions and activities during the winter and spring. There are many different activities and many different ways to create the type of winning culture you want, these are just a few that we do and feel are important to our success.

Meet Coach Hurps: Tony Hurps has been the Defensive Coordinator at Berne Union High School the last two years. This past year they saw their best year defensively since 2007, holding teams to 229 yards per game and breaking several defensive records. Prior to Berne Union, he was the Head Football Coach at Fisher Catholic High School, and the RB coach at Muskingum University, and Newark Catholic High School.



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