Every coach needs to go into the preseason with a plan. Following Anthony Stone’s example will help keep you on track.

With football preseason is in full swing, teams are conditioning to fine-tune their skills and techniques at practice, acclimate to heat and attend 7-on-7 tournaments. During this time, coaches not only have to focus on the athletes improving but also juggle the management duties that are required of them to prepare for the upcoming season. 

There are steps that need to be completed before the first regular season practice, and my preseason checklist assists in streamlining that process. As a father of five children, I know firsthand how valuable time is and how demanding coaching can be. I created this simple yet effective tool to help coaches visualize what needs to be completed before the season starts to help maximize their time.  

The checklist is an apparatus that allows the coaching staff to be on the same page. It improves communication and helps to prevent unnecessary frustration. There are a lot of moving parts to prepare for a season and it is important to make sure nothing is overlooked. For example, I find that when I go to the grocery store it is important to go with a list. Otherwise, I am likely to end up with a cart full of items and completely miss what I intended to go for in the first place. It wastes time because I have to make another trip back to the store.

So I am a “list” guy. I thank my dad, a former Marine, for teaching me to appreciate organization and to always have a backup plan. Organization builds confidence and confidence is key to success. Athletes are more likely to buy in to a program and fully commit when the coaching staff is on the same page. This checklist allows me to successfully complete the management side of coaching so I can focus on the athletes and maximize their potential. A coach has enough unknown during a season and shouldn’t be distracted with items they can streamline. A successful coach is never satisfied with the outcome. Instead, they continually challenge themselves as well as the team to grow and adapt to new methods.

It’s not too late to utilize this tool if your season has already started or to incorporate my checklist with your own.  This specific checklist is written for football but can be adjusted accordingly for any sport.

Click here for a sample of my preseason checklist.

Do not let yourself become overwhelmed. The idea of a checklist is to complete one task at a time, not the whole list at once. The preseason checklist is always the longest because there is so much to prepare for. Coaching demands your undivided attention and sometimes parents don’t realize how much time and sacrifice a coach actually puts into their child, especially if they are a volunteer coach.

I add items to my preseason checklist every few years to adapt to change. Checklists, whether for sports or life, are not absolute; they help keep you on track to accomplish your goal. Every great coach has a practice plan and a whistle. A practice plan is a form of a checklist that allows the coaching staff to stay on point. Coaches that have been around a while have a routine in place, but what sets coaches apart is how they communicate. The coaches that keep the practice plan in their head aren’t communicating with their staff and tend to micromanage. This can lead to athletes distrusting the staff. Practice plans also allow coaches to improve in specific areas. They can look back to see what they did last year to find out what worked and what didn’t work. Also, they can see how fast plays were implemented in practice and what drills worked or didn’t work. It all ties together, improving overall team confidence.

Please ask questions or share what you have on your preseason checklist with #HudlPreSeason.  Good luck to all the coaches and teams in the 2017 season.

Anthony Stone is a physical education teacher at Gregory Elementary School and quarterbacks coach at Boylan High School in Rockford, Ill.  He is also the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Women’s Australian National Outback 2017 Team & writes blogs for Firstdown Playbook. 

In July 2016, he was named to the Hudl 100 list. He has presented at IAPHERD, the top physical education convention in Illinois, on how to get students moving with his Games Galore presentations. He has also presented at the Chicago Glazier Clinics on quarterbacks & special teams. He was the Defensive Coordinator for the 2010 U.S. Women’s National Tackle Football Team, winners of the IFAF Women’s World Championship in which Team USA did not allow a point in three games with an overall score of 201-0. Stone has coached in the CIFL and the IWFL Leagues as well as Beloit College (linebackers/special teams coordinator) and Rockford University (quarterbacks/wide receivers). 

Stone has also coached football at the youth, middle school and high school level. He will be putting on fundamental youth football camps around the world in 2017.  Please contact him to bring his “Back to the Basics Youth Football Camp” to a city near you.

Follow him on Twitter @Coach_Stone_MT.