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Press Box

By Staff | Aug 10, 2016

Everyone knows the game winning plays.

The 99-yard touchdown run makes the news at 11 p.m; the front page carries the picture. Then there is the sack and fumble recovery to save the game, the last second 3-pointer from half court, the game winning grand slam. Everyone sees the big plays, but to really know the game, you need to know it’s subtleties.

Did someone throw a key block for the long run? Who or what caused the sack that led to the fumble? Did the batter fight off several pitches before drilling the long ball? Was there a circumstances that led to the winning 3-pointer?

These less obvious things more often than not prove to be the difference, but are seldom recognized or rewarded and most likely never reported. Many games have been changed by the unseen, untold, uneventful play that led to the forever remembered big play. No one sees everything, yet some people miss almost everything. However, if you focus on the whole game, it will become an all new experience.

Great coaches notice what the average Joe never sees.

Last year, I heard a high school volleyball coach congratulated a girl on a great pass which resulted in a monster kill.

“Coach never even said good hit,” cried an angry parent. Yes he did! I heard him but at the moment the pass deserved the praise and the smart coach new it. Call it what you like but that’s good coaching.

The same applies to a lineman who opens a huge hole for the touchdown run. Good coaches see it happen and they let the player know. Just the same, they let him know when he messes up. Coaches spend hours studying films, talking to other coaches and working with assistants. They use scouts and spotters to see the things they miss. They understand that making your team better requires more than superstar players. Although all coaches want those great players, being unprepared or lacking knowledge of the game can negate the advantages of stardom. Great coaches always know what to expect from their opponents and they keep a sharp eye on every situation.

Many times, I have missed the big play because I was watching for the unexpected. I try to take in the whole game and look for the less obvious plays. You can learn a lot more about a game by watching it all instead of focusing on the big plays or the superstars only. Those little less obvious things are not always small, but often they become the most important. They are the plays that make coaches smile even when the fans don’t recognize them.

While getting the scoop from a head football coach last year following a big victory, a reporter asked the question, “Did you think he would have such a big game?”

The coach quickly answered, “I knew he was capable of it, I just didn’t know he had such great help.”

Many times, if this makes any sense, the least best are first because of the best who are the least recognized. Keep your eyes open this year for the little things, the least obvious and make it a habit to watch the whole game. Focus; you’ll be surprised at what you will see. Watch every play and every player so you’ll understand why it’s called a team.

Then and only then will you really understand what great coaches already know. The importance of recognizing the skills of the players who live in the shadows. It becomes a whole new ball game when you watch it all.

Great coaches also spend time with the less skilled kids. They teach them the rules, the plays and help them mentally as well as physically.

I’ve seen it happen many times – a coach has to call upon a reserve player and that’s who makes the play of the game. We have great coaches in this area. I have been to many games and practices. Since last year and over the summer, I’ve talked to the head coaches, assistants and athletic directors, trainers and many school officials. Folks, your kids are in good hands from the superintendents, the school boards, teachers and coaches and boosters – you’ll not find it any better anywhere in the state.