Video: DJ Uiagalelei - Sophomore Highlights
The St. John Bosco quarterback stepped into a starting role midway through this season.
"Next man up."
This phrase is often echoed in interviews by football coaches when a player has been lost to injury. Obviously, in those cases, you don't have another choice. It's next man up or no man up, right?
But how to you develop a culture where you can get your kids battling for jobs, to be that next man up? From my experience, the best teams I have been around have that mentality: where kids absolutely battle for a starting spot. Coaches can build this culture in their program, and coaches should build this culture in their program.
I really believe one of the most important keys to developing this culture is to have depth charts that are "living." Many programs go through putting a depth chart together during Fall Camp, but then they forget it. They let kids know where they stand by utilizing that depth chart, but then stop paying it much attention once the season rolling. This is a mistake.
Having your depth chart up and around your facility throughout the season will help build that next man up philosophy. Kids will be reminded that they are not starting, and hopefully they will want to battle for that top job.
Many high school programs fail to build depth charts for their special teams. Again, I believe this is an error. Putting together your special teams depth chart helps to develop the next man up philosophy. You want the best 11 kids on kickoff right? Sometimes, the best guy for kickoff is that kid that who rarely sees the field but has all of the desire and speed to get down the field to cause havoc. But if the staff isn't thinking through things like their special teams depth chart, they will miss a kid like that.
Your depth chart published and presented to the players will create competition that regular practice will not bring out. Publish your depth chart like the colleges do, in a press release during the week. Put it on your team's twitter too. I guarantee if your staff spends just a little more time together each week developing, revising and thinking critically through your depth chart, your program will be much better for it.
Another way to help build that next man up philosophy is by being open to change. Some coaches are dead set against change once the season gets rolling. And I get that. But what if that competition for spots can keep your team on the competitive edge. The John Wooden teams who won all of those championships at UCLA report that practices were more difficult than the games because of the competition, and because nobody wanted to lose their starting spot. That made them better as a team, more competitive as a team. Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.