The Turnaround – Perspective from the Head Coach’s Seat

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Coach
Follow @WestTXCoach

Strunk SidelineFor many years I sat back and observed a bunch of head coaches. I also observed lots of coordinators in my time as a coach. You do a lot of observing in this profession. If you aren’t observing, you aren’t learning, is my creed. Lets just say that all the observations I have made got me ready to be a head coach. Almost.

The truth is you are never fully ready and you never stop learning. I learn something weekly, if not daily. If you aren’t learning you have stopped coaching or caring. That’s just my opinion.

I had some time to reflect this week. One thing I kept going back to was my first scrimmage as a defensive coordinator. The blood was flowing. I was ready. The kids were ready. I was ready to unleash on the opponent. I could hardly contain myself. I wanted to see us go out there and hit and keep on hitting. All I cared about was how the defense performed.

Now, fast forward fourteen years and my approach to a scrimmage is a complete 180. I want to go, get it over with and come out healthy. I’m excited one minute. The next minute? Worried like a little kid! What if? What if this happens? It drives me nuts. The view from this seat, the head coach’s seat is different than any other seat you will ever hold.

All the observing I did before landing as a head coach was easy. It was easy to make all the decisions when I was just playing it out in my head. Indeed, in my head, I was pushing all the right buttons. I was a genius. I remember saying to myself, “I won’t do that”. Years later I was saying, “Oh, that’s why he did that. I better do that too”.

The bottom line is this: you never quite fully understand the big picture until you are the one painting the picture. Decisions are easy when you aren’t the one in charge. This seat changes how you operate.

I used to love scrimmages and the first day of practice. I still do. But my view from the head coach’s seat tempers that childlike enthusiasm I felt fourteen years ago. I think it is for the best. I act with my brain now, not the emotion football evokes.

Week One is when I feel like it’s time to get crazy. That is my favorite time of the year. The first game. All cards are on the table. Let it fly. Scrimmages? Not so much. Like I said, let’s get this done! One more day closer to Sweetwater!

Keep plugging away coaches. Keep observing. But remember, this seat changes you…. For the better!

Until next time…. FIO.

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.