By David Marean
Head Football Coach
Wayne Central High School, NY
Editor's Note: Coach Marean has been with the Wayne Central High School Football Program (NY-Section 5) since the program started its first Varsity season in school history in 1998. Since taking over the football program in 2004, Coach Marean and his staff have made Sectionals 6 of the 9 years. He was named Coach of the Year by the league and also received the Finger Lakes Officials Coach of the Year Award in 2010. In 2011 they followed up with another League Championship and again he received the Coach of the Year Award by the League. In 2012 he was named to the Eddie Meath All Star East Coaching staff, of which they won with a dramatic field goal by one of his Wayne players. Coach Marean's coaching record is 29-36 League (31-46 overall). Since implementing this new off-season point system, the past three seasons he has a record of 16-5 League (19-7 overall). Coach Marean resides in Hilton with his Wife Jennifer and two children, Andrew (8) and Megan (6). He currently is a High School Physical Education Teacher at Wayne High School.
Creating competition into our entire program, whether in the off season, during double sessions or during our in season practices, over the last two years has helped turn our program around. Our varsity program here at Wayne Central is only 14 years old. In the first 12 years we have had only a total of 19 league wins (19-67 league record). In the last two years we have had a 13-1 League record with two League Championships. Although there are many things that have attributed towards our success these past two years, the one thing that stands alone is creating competition in our off season program, into our double sessions and weekly practices in season. We still have a ways to go to compete at the state level, but we are definitely heading in the right direction.
Just as any coach we borrow ideas from many programs and try to tweak them to fit our system and philosophy. We also realize that kids today are a lot different than in the old days, they want to know; "What is in it for me if I work hard." So something simple like a pizza or a t-shirt or now the new idea of adding their team name to the back of the shirt motivates them. It is all about finding what "Carrot" will work for your kids.
In the past we have always had plenty of opportunities in the off season (weight room hours, summer workouts, camps and open morning skill workouts, etc...) to help improve our players skills individually, but we have never put them into a position to compete as a team like we do now. We realized one of the main reasons kids come out for a sport is because they like competition and enjoy games and most importantly want to have fun. So that is why we as coaches realized that we needed to incorporate competitive fun games into our off season, preseason and in season practices. In turn we hoped that this would help to develop that competitive edge we were looking for. The key is "tricking" the players into making everything into a game without them realizing they are working hard and competing at the same time.
When I first took over the program, we started an off season program that used a point system to reward players for attending off season opportunities but we found out that individually we were getting better and competing but not as a team. Then these last two years we focused on developing a point and reward system that allowed us to compete more as a team as well still working on improving each players speed, agility, power and strength. We found that this allowed us to not only improve on our skills, but it made us compete more in everything, in turn it also developed a lot of team chemistry and allowed for our players to take more ownership and "police" each other rather than the coaches always hounding the players.
Throughout the last two years, we have tweaked our off season program to what it is today. We call our program WEF (Wayne Eagles Football) Championship Program. Our players have really bought into the program and it is the foundation to developing competition into everything we do.
Although the program focuses on team rewards, we also understand that players want individual rewards too, so we have clubs (700, 800, 900 and 1000lb) that are the totals of their bench, squat and clean. We have these clubs up on the walls and when a player reaches one of these clubs there is a bell in the weight room that they ring and then they go up and write their name up. We also have the top bench, squat and clean up on the wall too again the bell is rung for these too.
The first thing we do after the season is over is get started on our off season program. We first have a coaches meeting to determine who our team leaders will be for each in coming grade level. Once we have developed our team leaders, (16 total - 4 seniors, 4 juniors, 4 sophomores and 4 freshman), we bring them in and talk about what it takes to be a leader. We then give them a list of potential players for the next season and tell them to come up with a team name (that's meaningful) and then rank players that they would draft. We then set another time to meet and they have a fantasy draft.
Each player for each team earns points for their team based on certain criteria. Diagram 1 shows our point system and the rewards they can earn. Notice that we give them points for going to camps, fundraising, volunteering, good grades, playing another sport, etc.... We also do a "modified version" of this for our modified team too.
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One of my coaches is in charge of keeping track of the point system for each team and player. He will post the points weekly outside his office, on our trophy case and inside the wt room. We also send them home weekly via email. Diagram 2 shows an example of the total team points for a week. The team with the most points that week earns 50 bonus points for that week.
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Take a look at Diagram 3. This shows an example of the individual player’s points they have earned for their team for that week. It gives the team leaders a great visual to see who on their team is slacking or working hard, this way the leaders on the team for each grade level "police" them selves.
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It's great to see the players take so much more ownership. What ends up happening is they develop a competitive attitude together because they are competing for rewards at the end as a team.
In addition, each week we will do individual challenges as well as team challenges. This is a great opportunity for the older guys to cheer on the younger guys and create that "Family" atmosphere. Individual challenges can range from how many pushups in a minute to a game of thumb war. You will be amazed how competitive these guys get into something as silly as thumb war. Our team challenges could be anything from total amount of reps at135 bench press as a team to a game of volleyball. Be creative here just get them to compete as a team. The big thing here is you win with numbers, so during the spring or winter when a lot of guys are playing a spring or winter sport it is amazing to see the players search the hallways on a Friday afternoon trying to find their teammates to come in the weight room to compete with.
Throughout the off season we may develop ways to have teams earn more points, such as when we have a meeting that is very important or when I need players to turn important paperwork in I will say they can earn 5 points. Let's just say attendance at these meetings and papers turned in on time are great!
Once we get into the summer we have a "Boot Camp" where we workout Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7-9 a.m. We have our speed, agility, mental and lifting training during this time. We start off with a Dynamic Warm-up, then we go into the lifts and speed work for the day. We then separate into 4 stations (each team goes to a station) and rotate stations every 10 minutes. After stations we come together for some mental training, such as body movements on our No Huddle cadence, to see how focused we are when we are tired. We then end the morning with 30 minutes of team competitions to earn points (1st -60 pts 2nd -40 pts and 3rd-20pts). The video below shows you some of our "Boot Camp" activities.
Additionally, each player that shows up for our "Boot Camp" earns points for their team. We give each team leader every player’s cell phone number so they can make sure their teammates get to the Boot Camp workouts. Again, once in awhile we will add a surprise individual challenge to earn extra points.
The last week of our "Boot Camp" we will test our players (bench, squat, clean, vertical jump, 40 , and pro-agility). For every pound a player improves on their lifts from the Spring testing, they earn a point for their team. For example if a player benched 200lbs in the Spring and at the end of the Boot Camp they bench 225 they have earned 25 points for their team. This is a great motivator to get them to challenge themselves to improve on their lifts.
The first day of double sessions we will acknowledge the winner of the off season rewards. At this point we will hand out the player's shirts and short sets. The back of the shirt will have the winning teams name on everyone's shirt as well their team name will be printed on a trophy we will display in the trophy case by the weight room. We will also hand out pizza for lunch to the top two teams.
During our double sessions our competition now transfers into separating the teams into JV and Varsity, so they develop their own team chemistry. We have the kids stay right on campus for our double sessions, so after lunch we will have a challenge were we will ask each team to select a certain number of players from each team to compete in each challenge. These challenge games have been anything from blind relay races, to charades, to tractor tie flips, you name it. Each game is worth a certain amount of points. We do this the first five days and on day five we have the final challenge, we always make this challenge worth an amount that would allow the team that is losing an opportunity to win it all. The winner again gets pizza for lunch the next day.
Ways we build competition in double sessions practice is at the end of each practice we will yell "compete" and players will get in their warm up lines and we will do some type of relay. The winner of the relay does not have to do pushups, the other teams circle around the winners in push up position. Everyone starts counting out the pushups then at some point I will say second place can stop and get in the middle with the winners, then continue with push ups again, then third place can get up, then fourth, fifth, etc... By the end you will see how loud and intense they get as they start clapping it up as each team gets to the middle of the circle.
Other ways we build competition into our practices, is we will keep score for 7 on 7 periods and team periods. Diagram 4 shows you an example of how we keep score for each periods.
Again we will do some sort of conditioning for the losing team. If you do not have a big team you can spot your defense points (if you are working with your starting offense), since your defense most likely will be backups. We continue this scoring throughout our season practices too. I also encourage my staff during individual periods in practice to make games out of their drills to get them to compete, have a winner and a loser.
On Wednesday during the season we call it "Whack Em Wednesday" this is where we will go full contact during our team and 7 on 7 periods. We use the same scoring system as Diagram 4 showed. We will make the losing team do a lot more conditioning here, since we are using our first team units and because it is the last full contact before Friday's game. They know at the end of Wednesday we will yell "compete" and that means it is our goal line period of 5 offensive plays and 5 defensive plays. This gets real intense here!
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As I mentioned before we have tweaked some things in our program over the years to what works for us now, but there is no question getting our players to develop a competitive attitude in everything they do has really made them compete on Friday nights a lot more.
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