There’s been a lot of emphasis on the DETAILS as of late for the 2016 Saskatchewan Roughriders. Sunday’s practise saw the team focus on the Special Teams units and the various techniques associated with them. During today’s practise, if onlookers were listening close enough; there was a ton of vocal demand for attention towards the little things.
For those who may not know what the “little things” are in football, you’re not alone. As a matter of fact the maturation process of a pro football player actually includes learning what the little things actually are.
We spend an awful lot of time here on #ProPerspective talking about what it actually takes to make a pro football team. The list is quite extensive but when we talk about the little things or paying attention to detail one may be surprised about how simple things can be at times.
Sometimes a couple of the answers to a player’s internal question, “how do I make this squad?” are right there in front of his nose. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of listening...REALLY LISTENING, to what’s being asked.
I’ll use a quick example on the defensive side of the ball from today.
It’s no secret about how fast the tempo of the reps happen here in Training Camp and a player can’t control the way the plays are distributed amongst the depth charts. The one thing the player CAN control is one’s effort level.
You’d be amazed at how many decisions are made by coaching staffs based on one’s effort level. If there are two guys on the same fence and only room for one of them, you can bet the house on the one that is on film making the most effort.
If you happen to get a chance to stop by practise this training camp, listen intently as each play happens. Through all the sounds of the pads clashing and the helmets banging you’ll here two consistent asks... One will be the words of coaches demanding a finish, and the other ask that you’ll hear almost always is, “RUUUUUNNN!”
That’s it! Right there in front of everyone. It’s not hiding anywhere and one doesn’t have to decode any metaphors. One of the little things that a player can do to make this football team is simply RUN to the football.
All that the coaches are asking for is EFFORT. It’s a perfect example. Coaches are not asking for a certain technique. They’re not talking X’s and O’s...All the coaches want to see is a player running to the football and making an effort.
The ability of a player to listen to the little things that are being asked of him shows that he is COACHABLE and that he has the DISCIPLINE that one needs to play at this level.
It’s staggering how simple (yet complex) this can be as an athlete, however it’s what separates the Pros from the Joes.
Despite the CONSTANT requests for effort to the ball, even out here in Saskatoon, sometimes the message just doesn't register in some players.
I always remember a conversation an old coach had with me. We were having the same convo you and I are having now and he said,
"You know Luc it's funny how a player will always go home and tell his friends why he got cut. A lot of times he'll give a bunch of reasons as to why the coaches didn't give him a fair shot, when in actuality, HE DIDN'T GIVE HIMSELF A FAIR SHOT."
That comment was something I remembered for the rest of my career.
Day 9 was an up-tempo practise that featured Indy and Special Teams periods where coaches continued to work on detailed technical skills. Obviously from a production standpoint the players that apply those techniques will have a huge chance to move forward after the first round of cuts.
But here’s the thing...Every player on this roster is being taught the same thing, and there’s going to be times during evaluation that some guys are going to be on the same level as others. Players are going to be doing themselves a HUGE favour if they’ve been the guys consistently on film doing all the extras.
RUN TO THE BALL. Coaches don’t just yell things in practise for the sake of yelling them. Listen, and apply. Understand what the coaches are looking for. #TheLittleThings.
That was actually the main theme I had throughout my note today but here’s a couple of tidbits that you guys may find valuable...