Ever felt like a coach had it out for you? In your mind, you don’t cause any problems, you do everything you you’re supposed to do and you don’t suck, so why are you not playing? It could be this funny little big thing known as body language.
Talk to a player about his body language and it will quite often fall on deaf ears. It’s simply not something that guys focus on but boy are you going to wish you did pay attention once things start going downhill. When you are a player there are some things that just don’t enter your mind. I used to be there. I got older, I stopped playing and then started coaching. Body language of players started shouting at me. I remember wishing that I had coached football first before playing it.
Unfortunately, I was not able to be a coach first and that’s typically how this thing works. However, the next best thing I can do is write articles like this one to help out those enough who are smart enough to read them. A coach will get as much or more clues from a player and his readiness to play from his body language as opposed to what he actually says.
When you are a coach you know that if you ask a player if he’s ready to play, he’s going to tell you “yes” 9.5 times out of 10. I am not necessary saying that players lie. Sometimes players just aren’t ready to play and they don’t realize that. Coaches rely more on reading a player’s body language to determine their readiness.
Most coaches will tell you that they are more nervous as coaches before a game than they ever were as players. As a player you feel you have more control over the outcome.. As a coach, you can feel totally helpless. For this reason, most coaches will go with guys they trust the most over guys who are “talented”. How do coaches gauge trust, through body language.
So if you’re a guy that likes to look down at the ground or in the other direction when your coach is talking then he’s going to have trust issues. He’s not sure if you heard him and he’s not trying to find out on game day if you did or not. If you are the player that hangs his head every time he gets beat on a play then coach is not too sure that you will be able to keep it together when you allow a catch in a game. There are also players who tend to look like a nervous wreck when it’s their time to take reps. I can assure you that a coach isn’t playing that guy. If you’re nervous then your coach is nervous and everyone’s throwing up. No bueno.
If you want to get playing time then outside of the obvious like know your alignment, assignments and techniques, control your body language. Look your coach in the eye when he’s speaking unless it’s during a play. Show some command when you are out on the field. Display confidence at all times and part of that is going to be knowing your assignments. Next, defensive backs get beat. It’s part of the job description. Don’t turn into a mental case because a receiver did what receivers do and that is catch a ball. Line up with confidence on the next play. Finally, have some energy when you are out on the field. Guys who line up in competitive situations and don’t attack it with energy give off the impression that they don’t want to be there. Why would a coach play a guy that doesn’t want to play?
Your body speaks when you are at practice and in games. What is it telling your coach when you are out there? Be aware of what it’s saying and make sure it’s saying “put me in coach”. I guarantee you that your coach is listening.
Chad Wilson is the owner of All Eyes DB Camp and author of "101 DB Tips". He played college football at the University of Miami and briefly in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. Over his 15 year high school football coaching career, he tutored over a dozen Division I defensive backs and as a trainer has worked with NFL All Pros, first round draft picks, college football All Americans and Top 10 ranked high school football prospects.