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This is the first of a three-part series about the pregame rituals and routines.
Every coach has their own pregame routines. None are right or wrong, but everyone has opinions on how best to prepare their team prior to kick off.
I reached out to quite a few coaches and put out a one-question Twitter poll to get some perspective. The feedback was tremendous. Here are four mistakes that coaches cited as the biggest pregame gaffes.1. Teaching on Friday night
I'm always dumbfounded when I see coaches trying to teach during pregame; that should've been done throughout the week.
"One of the biggest mistakes I see is when coaches try to coach technique or scheme during pregame. That is supposed to be done Monday through Thursday, not Friday night before the game," said Robert Kistner, head coach of Oak Hills in Hesperia, Calif.
Former high school head coach/current Saddleback College assistant coach Eric Preszler relayed a great pregame drill that he saw Stanford using before playing UCLA. It's a great drill because there is no teaching, just reminding the mind and body to do their job. "Stanford ran an 11 man versus air pass rush and coverage. A ball was thrown to every player, who then returned it to the end zone. They did this for about seven minutes, with several different groups. They just called an imaginary formation, lined up, took drops and 'pick-sixed.' " It is interesting that this was done against an imaginary formation. No wasted time of trying to set up the scout team.
2. Team is not organized
Arena Football Hall of Fame coach and current Cabrillo College head coach Darren Arbet said "disorganization and a lack of consistency" is the most common mistake he sees. "There should be a consistency in the warm up and routine."
Failing to prepare and create routine is one way to mess your players and coaches up, as well as waste precious time on Friday night. Winning teams have their pregame routines down to a science.
"Not having a plan in place before hand, and not setting the field up before hand is a common problem I see. When you don't set up the field before the team comes out, you are failing to maximize your time," said coach Bill Godsill of Coolidge High School in Arizona.
Here an interesting thought ... and one that could embarrassing to your school and program from Jamie Ortiz of San Clemente High School, a 2016 California state champion. "One major mistake I've seen coaches make is not checking their pregame music," Ortiz said. "Our version of 'clean' may be a bit different than players."
When teams aren't organized, it can become all about the hype during pregame. Chris Rix, the former Florida State quarterback who watched a lot of high school ball as an analyst in Southern California said, "I think one mistake I see would be getting the players too hyped up to where they are not focused enough on their assignments and the game plan."3. Doing too much in hot weather
"One thing I noticed is when teams come out in hot weather in full gear for warm ups and pregame," said Jason Strunk of Lubbock High School in Texas. "There is no need for that when it is 95 degrees in August. We go out in just game pants and helmets. We leave the shoulder pads off. We pace ourselves. We just get loose, break a little sweat and head back in. Win the game, not the pregame."
"I don't like bringing my kids out too early to warm up. I don't like them out there for an hour warming them up. I need about 40 minutes to warm up the team," said Joe Meyer of Southern California's Rancho Buena Vista. 4. Giving Away Too Much
Many coaches assign someone to watch their opponent during pregame. I remember watching a kicker one time practicing nothing but onside kicks down behind the end zone. They tried to hide him, but it didn't work. So, we reminded our kids to be ready, and started with the hands team. It worked, we recovered the opening kickoff.
"I've also seen teams totally give away the fronts and their adjustments to motion," said Jerry Ralph of El Camino High in California. "It was what I expected but took way any questions I had."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.