By the midway point of the high school football season, most coaches have a good idea where their team’s season is headed.
Some teams have already qualified for the playoffs, some teams are on the fence and need to win a few of their final regular-season games, and others have been eliminated from postseason consideration.
For the teams trying to make a postseason push, generally coaches don’t need to give their players much motivation. Getting to the playoffs is motivation enough. But for others, their season might be ending in just a few short weeks. Regardless of the situation, it’s important for a coach to have a read on their team and still find ways to motivate.
For Brian Kaminski, the head coach at Sun Prairie High School outside out of Madison, Wisconsin, his first priority in a season is to get to five wins and become playoff eligible. Then, it’s about looking to the conference championship.
“For us, we take it in three stages,” Kaminski said. “We always try to get five wins as fast as we can, and after we get that fifth win then we evaluate where we are for the conference championship.”
Sun Prairie, which finished second at the state tournament a season ago, started the 2018 season winning five of its first six games. With the regular season lasting nine games, Sun Prairie was already set to make the playoffs. But the team wasn’t just satisfied with making it to the playoffs.
“It’s always about improving your situation for the postseason,” Kaminski said. “For us, we’ve been fortunate enough to be in the playoffs every year since 2004.”
Kaminski recalls the last time his team didn’t make the playoffs. He had to think of the right way to frame the remaining part of the season so his team would be motivated to finish strong.
“We told our kids that there’s only going to be a handful of teams that are going into next year on a winning streak, so let’s be one of those teams,” Kaminski said.
For any coach, it’s about conveying positive messages to the team and adding a silver lining. Even if a losing season is on the horizon, players can always take away learning experiences from the final games of the year.
“You’re just finishing strong and building that foundation for the future and what it takes,” Kaminski said. “We’ve been there where we’ve not had a very good season, and in that regard, you just try to finish as strong as you can and maybe get a few younger players some experience and carry that into next year. Football’s a unique sport where we only get nine opportunities, so you can’t waste any of them.”
How do you motivate your team when the going gets tough? Comment below!
From GameChanger and Greg Bates
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