One common goal that all programs share across all levels of football – even at the NFL level – is how to maximize the look they get from their scout team during the fall. Take a look at successful programs, and chances are they’re scout team during the week is bringing it at a different level than their counterparts.
I wanted to take a look and share some easily implemented ideas on what you and your staff could do this fall to get more out of your scout team. Here are 6 that came to mind:
1 – Dedicate a single coach to run the unit
This will be easier to do at the large high school level (and every college program already does this in some form or another), but even small high school’s should find a way to dedicate a single coach to handle the unit. Doing that allows the one coach to delve deep into their scheme, personnel, and finer points needed to duplicate the offense during the week, and it also gives the coordinators a point-person to give corrections and guidance to. Along with helping that coach grow as a scout team “coordinator” of sorts, it also gives the unit a sense of ownership and direction, which can be easy to miss on scout teams.
2 – Have scout team players of the week
We did this at a small high school a few years ago, and the kids ate it up. It gave the kids that don’t see the field a lot the chance to shine, and every week we gave them a helmet sticker during the film session right alongside the offensive, defensive, and special teams players of the game. Kids felt like their efforts during the week were just as appreciated as the starters on game day, and that’s the type of thing you want every player on the scout team to feel.
3 – Name scout team captains
Naming a few scout team captains to lead the unit is another idea that will help to create a sense of ownership among players on the scout team. It goes a long way to demonstrate how seriously you take the unit as a coaching staff, and how important their job is to the success of the team on game day.
4 – Give the group a nickname to take ownership in, and be creative
I’m always amazed at the things that kids, particularly those at the high school level, are motivated by. A few years ago, I was at a school where the guy who ran the scout team called them “The Burrito Squad,” and as silly as it was, the kids loved it. We’d yell for the “Burritos” when it came time to have a scout offense and kids flocked to get in on the action. Later in the year we put together a second scout team offensive unit and called them “The Tacos” and when playoff time came around we awarded the units, and those that were on them consistently during the season, with tacos and burritos from Taco Bell. The point of that story is to simply remind you to be creative and keep in mind that the kids we work with can be motivated by some simple, and silly, things.
5 – Provide incentives for participation and effort
Whether it’s a helmet sticky, tacos, an end of season award, an eventual spot in the rotation on game day, or simply pointing out the kid’s daily participation on the under-heralded scout team in front of his peers, as coaches we have to find a way to provide incentives for kids who pour their heart into this unit. It’s easy for us as the coaching staff to see the value in the unit, but for kids who grow up with dreams of playing under the lights on game day, it can be tough to see the important role it plays. As for the second part of that, I think effort on the scout team should be praised early and often. Few things are more frustrating to an offensive coordinator than guys in the box on the scout team D who allow themselves to get blocked, or scout team offensive players who jog routes and don’t give a good look. You and your staff should make it a point to praise effort loudly and celebrate it from the scout team to send a message to everyone else on the expectations.
6 – Promote from the scout team, and make a big deal about it
Every scout team normally has a player or two that gives your starting offense or defense fits. It’s easy for coordinators and players to get frustrated with those players at times, but the big-picture reality is that guys that are consistently doing that to your starting unit may need to find their way on the field to do that to your opponents. I think it’s a great idea to make a big deal of a scout team guy getting promoted to a spot in the rotation on offense and defense. Do it at the end of a practice, or a team meeting, to make a point of the effort they’ve given on the scout team, and how that consistent effort has been noticed by the coaches and the reward for it is finding the field on game day.
Some of these you may already do, while others hopefully sparked an idea.
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