Creating a Winning Culture in the Off-Season

Feb 17, 2018 | Program Development

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


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.