Every state and region is in a different phase of reopening, yet the one constant among coaches from the NFL, to college, to high school is that we are all having to adapt to a new normal that includes things temperature check-ins before practices, sanitizing surfaces, and modified practices with social distancing in mind.
Everything looks and feels much different in the wake of COVID, and coaches are searching for the best way to adapt to all these changes while still preparing their team for competition in the fall and developing a culture with a whole new set of guys.
Since the return of football, we've fielded a number of emails, calls, and texts from coaches curious about what other programs are doing. We covered a number of important topics related to that in our Online Clinic series, but as we get into the swing of things, more and more questions come in.
Questions like: How are programs grouping their players? What is the best daily check-in procedure for kids? What is the plan for dealing with a positive test? And what's the most effective and efficient way to sanitize equipment and surfaces?
That last question brings me to a quote from Georgia head coach Kirby Smart outlined in Online Athens today. At a program with one of the most robust budgets in college football, Smart believes in the values that come along with having players do some of the sanitizing around the facility, particularly in the weight room.
Before anyone loses their cool - Smart also notes that they do have the area professionally cleaned as well.
“They actually clean the weight room themselves because we think that makes them understand the importance of it, now that doesn’t mean we don’t have it professionally cleaned. We still have it professionally cleaned on top of them."
"I think making them aware of, ‘I’ve got to clean this,’ when they go home, they think the same thing. When they step out of our building, their understanding of when they’ve gotta have masks on and when they don’t, that’s very unusual because a lot of our players think they’re beyond harm and that’s not the case as we’re seeing with this pandemic.”
That seems like a really good idea for coaches out there looking for some direction.
In our program at Comstock Park HS (MI), we've taken a similar approach but added a bit of a competitive element to it to align with the core values of what we want to emphasize in our program. We do a 45-minute circuit workout (with players properly socially distanced) and then line everyone up on the sideline for a little team competition. I call out a varsity player to take on a JV player in a little trivia challenge of the day. One day it may be a college football theme, and the next day it may be Family Feud style questions with the coaches acting like the surveyed people. Lose the question and you're given a prompt for your program to "bear crawl to the hash and back," or "sprint to the opposite sideline and back."
At the end of practice, a losing unit is chosen to do the sanitation of the equipment used for the day in an effort to instill many of the same values that Smart touched on in his quote above.
Speaking of coach Smart, you've got to see the Warm Up from today where he beats his kid in a race and high-steps through the finish line to rub it in.