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March 29, 2022

Teaching Life Skills in a Tactical Fashion | Robert Pomazak & Patrick Shannon

Teaching Life Skills in a Tactical Fashion | Robert Pomazak & Patrick Shannon

#34. We are showcasing the football program at St. Charles North High School located in St. Charles, Illinois. Representing the North Stars are the head coach, Robert Pomazak, and assistant coach, Patrick Shannon, who is also the author of Football Tactical Training: Gain and Keep the Advantage. In this episode we discuss the culture of St. Charles North football program, what tactical training is and why coaches should implement it into their programs, and how it ultimately benefits kids.

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Transcript

Luke:

This is episode 34 of The "I" in Win podcast.

Rob:

we all want to win. But I guarantee you that if I can make a positive impact, on our players, and if my coaches can make a positive impact, that's going to come back to you two or three.

Luke:

Welcome to The "I" in Win the show that focuses on why coaches should embrace the journey of impacting lives. I'm your host, Luke Mertens. And today we are showcasing the football program at St. Charles North High School located in St. Charles, Illinois, representing the north stars or the head coach, Robert Pomazak and assistant coach, Pat Shannon, who is also the author of football, tactical training gain, and keep the advantage. I'm excited to discuss the culture of St. Charles North football program. What tactical training is and why coaches should implement it into their programs and how it ultimately benefits kids. Most importantly, stay tuned to learn how you can earn a free copy of coach Shannon's book later on as episode coaches. Thanks for being on and welcome to the show.

Rob:

Thanks for having us on Luke.

Luke:

Coach Pomazak starting with you as the head coach. You have to work really hard to, make kids feel special. I think that's really important as a head coach. I personally believe that teaching skills beyond the X's and O's helps players feel important and it shows them that we care about them as people first and foremost. So what are some of those life skills that you're trying to instill in your players at St. Charles?

Rob:

Well, yeah, I think, first it's super exciting to be on here. You know, the life skills that we're looking at are really just, we're trying to always develop habits with our kids, those positive habits that we call behave. When in our program, if it comes down to what we call our iron star football, it's leadership, accountability, investment, selflessness, and preparation. And so me by and large, everything that we're going to do is going to tie back into those five values in some way, shape or form. And we just try to make it fun. You know, I mean, they're out there, you know, football's a tough game and you know, the parents are giving us their most prized possession and that's their kid. And, you know, we take that very seriously. And so if we can create some fun, but also create some better citizens while we're doing it, that's kind of the name of the game for us.

Luke:

Another important skill and being a successful head coach is entrusting your staff with leadership roles. So take us through the process of how you and trusted coach Shannon with this tactical training methods and how it's become an integral part of your.

Rob:

Yeah. I mean, we were fortunate. Pat came into the program and, uh, really kind of just changed the way we went about it. You know, I've always, I've always been very, uh, leaning into the culture aspect. Like most head coaches, you know, it's such a buzzword these days. And, as I was getting into like my third or fourth year, pat came into the program, We started talking about his experience and his time in the Marines and his time with some other programs. And he started to mention about, you know, some of the things that they, that he has witnessed and that they have done when it comes to really trying to develop these habits and how, you know, in the armed services, they, they, they take a group of complete strangers and they teach them how to work from the ground. As brothers, as sisters and truly a family. And I think I'm never going to equate football to, battle. It's not, it's still fun, but there is a lot of applicability to football. You're on a grid, there's a lot of directives being thrown out and you have to respond to those, to those directives. And so I always try to surround myself with people who are smarter and better at things than me and pat had some great ideas. And I think it just took us sitting down and giving him the platform to do it. And then really kind of thinking outside the box, you know, not really letting any idea, be a bad idea and just seeing what works and what didn't work. We started with some foundational things that I think we'll get into in a little. And just trying to mold it into something that we both felt was valuable to the program, and led to a good experience because that's that's basically, you know, our program's mission is to deliver an elite experience to every person that comes in contact with our football program. And, you know, I think it's been a lot of fun. It certainly has been fun for me to learn from pat and to see how some of these simple things themselves to huge dividends.

Luke:

Well, that's a great segue to coach Shannon. And I know it was for as long as I can remember, football has always been associated with military isms. And I know you have a military background as coach Palm, Zach has alluded to. And in your book, you discuss that unique relationship between the military and football. So can you give a brief summary of that relationship in your eyes coming from your military base?

Pat:

Yeah, I mentioned a little bit about Hollywood, how they always have movies about war equated with football and things like that. But I think really on, on it, Plain culturally mentioned is like having a group of strangers, trying to, get together and, complete a mission. And that's what you have would football. And in military you bring like when they come to bootcamp, you have 60, 70 guys are from different backgrounds, different attitudes, different skill sets. And by the end of those 12 weeks, they're able to complete a mission and think the same and talk the same. Act the same. And that's exactly what we're doing with a football practice. You're getting a group of individuals that are on your roster to have different skillsets, different talents, but the I'd be able to participate in act the same on game day to have success. I mean, that's, that's really the biggest, comparison between the military and football. For me, I think.

Luke:

And then what about the term football tactical training? Define that for us.

Pat:

Yeah for us. Well, we talked to our kids, we tell them we wanted to be technically and tactically proficient. So the, the break it down, the brass tacks of it. We, we tell our players, listen, we do tactical training because we want you to perform on Friday night. So they're in the summertime or at 707 camps when they're running around in shorts and they're catching the football and throwing and block and everything like that. Uh, we tell them, okay, good. You prove that you're technically. But how can you do that? On Friday night? That's where the tactical part comes. So we need that. We need the kids to perform at their peak on Friday when the lights are on and we're running through the fog, we're playing against, you know, a very good Batavia team or a state champion. And in Wheaton doors, that's when we need you to perform. That's where the tactical training is going to come in.

Luke:

So my next question, which I think you, might've kind of already answered is why is it important for your players to learn this? And either one of you could interject on that one. Is it just for the performance on Friday night or what's the objective? What's the, goal of taking the time to teach these tactical?

Rob:

Pat, do you mind if I jump in real. I mean, I think from a head coaching perspective, what the value that I place into it is being able to communicate in brevity and not just communicate, but be heard and then have that action taking place. You know, in this day and age and communication is, so different than maybe when we were growing up. You know, with the texting and whatever else they're doing the DMS and so on and so forth. So we're trying to create a situation that is applicable to the game and applicable to our ability to communicate with our players and then have them act upon that. And the way that I've seen that benefit us is our ability to get our players attention with one word and then get them to check into what our directives are going to be. Whether that's at, during a time of. Or that's on the sideline where we're trying to call on a different. And then more importantly, their ability to communicate that effectively with each other. And then the most important thing would be to act it out and do it with a high level of efficiency. and that to me is huge. That's an executive functioning skill. You know, if, if a student athlete cannot affect them, Coordinate themselves to listen and act upon what you're trying to get them to do. That's going to create a tactical disadvantage for us. We will be slower to the ball, slower off the ball, and potentially have somebody doing something they're not supposed to be, and that can create issues, you know? And at our level in our conference, like we have to be able to get these things done quickly and effectively. And it's fun because it's not easy. You know, you would think it's the. But it, it truly takes, it takes a reciprocal relationship between us as coaches and them as players to learn how to do this.

Pat:

Yeah, I think one part of the game that's that's overlooked and it has been overlooked ever since I've been coaching is, that part in the game from the time the whistle blows when, when the play ends until the next snap, that 25, 30 seconds, whatever it is in a game, all the information that's passed in that time, you know, you get. Coming in, down from the box through the coaches, uh, signal down to the field, the quarterback has to make the call linebackers, make calls, DBS, make, coverage calls line, make their calls. All that information is given within about 20, 25 seconds. And the kids have to be able to instantly, listen to information and execute it. And that, that part of practice is very, very important, but it's often overlooked. We really don't practice. You know, that teams don't practice that part of the game, unless you really focus on that. That's part of the tactical training really will be beneficial at that part of the game.

Luke:

Yeah, that's interesting. I've read your book and I know you do talk about communication in your book, but hearing you guys describe it really helps me even understand how functional and how important that really is because how many times in coaching, you said this in your book, the kid comes off the field. You said. Hey, what was the call? Oh, I didn't, I don't know. Like, what do you mean? You don't know? Like w what were you even doing then? You know, and how many times they break the huddle or whatever it may be, and don't even know what the call is and, and you're right. I mean, there's, there's just chaos on a Friday night. There's not a lot of time to. And, coach palms, Zack, you had, and I had like, those one word, verbal cues are so important that you're never just saying it from the sideline to play around on the field or whatever it may be and that they get it. that's great. Another thing you guys talked about and might've been coach Shannon was transferability to the field, and I know for myself, that's really frustrating to me. We, we do all of these great things in the weight room. For example, we do all these great things outside the weight room and speeding. And then when the players fail to bring that with them on a Friday night, it frustrates me, I'm talking about our coaches, like, how are they missing, how it connects? And that's on me as a coach. That's not on them as a player. So really the frustration lies within myself. So how are you seeing that transferability that you guys are taking the time to do this? In January, I think you start doing it, should do it throughout the whole season that you actually see those skills and then have that opportunity to see like, Hey, that tactical training we did back in January.

Rob:

Well, I think we start with the end in mind. Like we want them to be able to perform in the most stressful situation that they can. And, you know, we talk about, you're never going to rise up to the. Uh, you, you're never going to rise up to some, unearthly level of, athletic ability. You know, you're going to fall back on your training. And so we try to take it from there. We're, we're going to be playing in front of a couple thousand people. The band's going to be playing and there's going to be nerves. It's going to be a crunch time situation. And that is the apex of stress. And that's when we start to get in that reptilian mode where we're just worried about survival, we shut off our hearing our vision narrows, you know, and we're not able to absorb the situation. So we start. How are they going to be able to process that? And then we work backwards and go from the off season and we just start when there's no football, when there's no stress out there and we're in a weight room and it's simply us explaining a workout. And we say, we, we say eyes and they, they say click, we say ears. They say open and just ability. Check them in and then go through the directives. Uh, then we'll progress through the off season and we'll take the, you know, we start leading and then we hand it to them. We'll be doing maybe a station workout and one player's going to be leading the whole group and they're going to have to be on cadence. And that player has to communicate, communicate in a very specific way. And the players have to respond off of that. And then we'll add where there's one player. Who's leading one group, but there's eight different groups going in the weight room and now they have. Shout out everybody else, but they have to focus on their leader of their group and stay on cadence. And we do. some fun stuff. We start, we, we, you know, Patty brought in a yellow flag, a flag, and if, if a guy falls starts, or if a guy's off cadence, we'll throw a flag. We'll keep track, we'll play it. You know, we'll have different groups and the group that wins get something. and then eventually we start adding music and then we, then we add louder music and then we add like death metal and it's just adding these stressors to them. We're eventually they kind of have to be able to focus and lock in and execute. I mean, that's, that's kind of how we've taken that and use it in the off season. And then, you know, when we get to the summertime, that's where Patrick. Does some really cool stuff that I'll let him kind of jump on and talk about.

Pat:

Uh, one thing I want to touch on. Well, when we're in the weight room that coach was just talking about and the music's blaring and we put our team in little groups. It's fun to see the behaviors that the little groups come up with. Like, I remember one time the, one leader that's leading this. The music was so loud that the kids couldn't hear him talking or leading the cane. So the kids actually turned around in a circle on their own, and he started looking at the kid's mouth to hear it, you know? So you just see a little behaviors that, you know, and little leadership things that you pick up from kids, you might not see all the time, you know, of trying to overcome and adapt and, get the mission done when everything blown up around them, you know, it's, it's cool to watch and cool to see.

Luke:

Do you guys work out in the morning after school or during the day, or when does your team.

Rob:

Well, we're after school three days a week and we're in the morning every Friday. And that's in the off season. Then when we moved to, you know, summertime, it's going to be in the morning with our summer camp. So it really just kind of fluctuates.

Luke:

Okay. I was asking because part of that is. Paying attention, right? I mean, that's a big part of what you're trying to do. So I was curious if you saw a difference in the morning as opposed to after school. And then also I know like many programs, the majority of your kids play another sport, which always creates a little bit of a, I hate to use the word challenge. It's not a challenge. It's great that they're playing on their sports, but you know, you're trying to instill these skills and they can't be there a lot. So they're, it's not always being reinforced. So. do you do with those kids in multiple sports? And do you notice a difference in the morning and those Friday morning supposed to after.

Rob:

I think there's certainly it ebbs And flows, but that's the beauty of it. It's not a perfect system because human behavior is not perfect. And those are teachable moments for us to talk about. You know, why, why were we not as locked in as we should've been and in turning it to the kids? So there's a discussion about that. Well, it's 6:00 AM and we're tired or it's finals week. And we're worried about the finals that we gotta do, you know, and just really starting to make that correlation to. Well, listen, we're going to be tired in the fourth quarter. How are we going to overcome it then if we can't overcome it on a Friday morning in February, where that's too much of a stress for us to exhibit the behaviors that we need to exhibit, you know, and those are the things that I think are I look for the best, like pat hit it on the head, like watching kids selling. Resolve situations is probably the, is probably the most exciting thing, but also watching those catastrophic disasters where they can't get it together. And there's, the leadership is lacking and focusing in on those and talking and deep deconstructing those onto why did we not succeed in the mission? Why did we, why were we unable to execute this? Because then those kids see what it looks like when it looks good. They know why, and when it doesn't work, they are able to identify. And that's kind of a great rallying point as we move throughout that entire off season.

Luke:

And then what about the kids that are in another sport? So they're not able to attend these after-school sessions, so they're missing out. an important part of your program, right? So do you have to, when they come in and let's say they just got done playing basketball, they don't play a spring sport. Now they could join your off season. Do you have to kind of start back to the beginning because those kids miss the previous 16 weeks, like what.

Rob:

always a level of remediation. I think pat, that we do, you know, we'll always kind of go back to the start because we want it. It's always a good learning opportunity for the kids. Like the beauty of this is you can never do it too many times because there's always going to be something new that can be learned with what they do. And we don't do it every single lift because then I think it would be. It's I guess it's meaning, but we'll pick some opportune times, at least once a week where we're going to do something, that's going to be tactical in nature. Uh, so that the kids get used to that challenge. And, it's always been pretty beneficial, but we will go back and kind of, you know, start from square one. It might not be as in-depth, uh, especially in the summer because we want to get to some more of the on-field stuff. But if for those kids who miss it, it's such a common thing in our program that I feel. If they're going to get it at some point, cause it's not something we're just doing once in a while. Like it's everyday in some way, shape or form.

Luke:

So kids today have many choices, And it's become easier now than ever for them just to walk away from football because there's a lot of other things that they could be doing with their time. So the way we keep them in into the game is to make it fun, engaging, and have to find. What we're doing with them. So coach Pomazak. How have your players responded to this tactical?

Rob:

Oh, I think they have fun with it, uh, because it's something that is challenging and it puts them in different uncomfortable positions. And I think what pat does such a great job of is how can you not have fun in the middle of summer when your field is set up like a paintball course, and you've got a water balloon.

Pat:

water, balloon

Rob:

All all over the place, you know, and you've got to navigate yourself from point a to point B to accomplish your mission. Um, like this, just the way that he's able to use the field and put a tactical twist on it. I think the kids love it. You know, there's a situation where we'll put pool noodles in their hand and then pat will teach them, you know, maneuvers, like that's the. They're bayonet and that's going to be their weapon of choice And just watching them move in unison. I think they all, you know, there's always that like kitschy, like looking around to make sure that it's cool, but when everybody's having fun, like they kind of let their guard down, which I think.

Luke:

And coach Shannon in your book, you state that one of the best benefits to the training is that it strengthens the middle to the lower. Of your roster. And I think that's something that all coaches strive to do. So explain how you think it does strengthen that middle to bottom. Part of the.

Pat:

Yeah, I, we, we settled on that because after every co-chairs the same thing, you know, when you don't have a successful season, you know, you're sitting in the coach's room and he asks, well, And, you know, nine times out of 10, someone's going to blur it out. Well, you know, there was no leadership. The seniors didn't do a good job, you know, and things like that. And you know, after awhile, you know, you're going to have to try and address that problem with Y and leadership is so difficult and so hard to put your finger on it. I mean, they, write books and books, about how to be a leader and to put that on a, a 16 or 17 year old kid, you know, and expect him all right, you're the captain, you're the. You know that that's a tough spot to put a kid in. So we'll name our captains, of course, and you know, your quarterback and your middle linebacker are usually, the leaders, but we try and put leadership throughout the whole roster because nine times out of 10, when you start playing, you know, get into playoffs and you're playing a 12, 14, hopefully week season, you're going to need those kids in remote in the middle of the roster, you know, and you can't let those kids fall away. So the best thing to do is we always try and keep in our mind is we try and give the kids a chance to lead, without being in the huddle or being on the field. How you do that as your. that's something you, could do on your own and trying to accomplish a different way. But I think that the leadership really is going to start to blossom when your give the kid a responsibility and not every kid can be the quarterback, not every kid could be the middle linebacker. So I'll see, you have to find a way to give that second, defense alignment or that third defensive back is spot to take ownership in this team because really what you'll want to have. Is, if you don't have leaders in the middle or the bottom of your roster, you're going to start getting the team that's fractured. And when you have a team that's fractured in little groups, you're never successful. So to get those leaders in a bottom, middle, a roster to buy into what you're doing, And give them responsibility, that's, our leadership gross throughout the program. I think that that's really what we do. So we do some of this tackle training. We put, the youngest kid in the program cause we'll have freshmen out there too sometimes with us. And we'll put the youngest freshmen, the 13 year old kid and he's in charge of the program and he's held accountable for, for what he does. And it's fun to watch, cause then your leaders, you know, your studs, they got. And then they have to follow a little bit, you know, and to be a good leader. Sometimes you have to be a good follower and you have to be able to take orders. You just can't sit there and be the boss all day and sit on your throne. you gotta take leadership from other people. So it's fun to watch the third show of freshmen boss around, uh the D one kid.

Luke:

having read your book. I know what you mean when you say you put that 13 year old in charge of the program, but can you just clarify that for listeners who haven't yet read your book? What that means that there are in charge for that.

Pat:

We always talk about behaviors that when and what our first drills we do is we do a drill that's called finished together and perfect. And what we do is we just make everyone do jumping jacks and we do a specific way where you give it a specific order in a routine. And the young kids in charge and the off to finish at the same time and finish a perfect. And you could see this team started to develop, you know, they, they always mess it up at first and we gave them like a specific number of jumping jacks and do like tell him we got to do five or six and, and they'll never stop. One kid will always do it and be off cadence, everything like that. And then you see the behaviors of kids starting to get. You know, you'll see kids, you know, start yelling at each other and you'll see other guys try to encourage people. And then it's just, you know, actually one way of putting that kid in charge of the program and, getting that mission done.

Luke:

And Coach Pomazak. I know that you're really big into culture and you're very intentional on how you create it. Where does tactical training fit within shaping your programs?

Rob:

I think it's right at the very foundation of it, because we always talk about, these behaviors and the experiences that we're going to give. And, the behaviors that we need to develop are only going to be developed. If we target the habit that needs to be worked on. And so when we're doing a tactical training, that is that's part of it. When we talk about the accountability part of our program, the ability to stay accountable to the cadence or the ability to stay accountable, to, finishing when everybody supposed to finish, that's huge for us. And that's a chance for us to teach that habit and doing it so much that it becomes just muscle now. and that goes part and parcel with like our, our belief system of, one heart, one mind, you know, we are not 60 individuals when we're on the football field. And one of the ways that we can actually physically show that is by doing our pushups or jumping jacks in cadence, and then finishing exactly at the same time. And so those are the things that when we talk about behaviors, well, how do you develop behaviors? How did you develop habits? You know, we have to find ways through our program, that the kids can experience it. And that is like, those two things are in, are locked. And to me, we always show the kids like this Venn diagram of our behaviors and experiences in somewhere in the middle is our culture. And so that's the tricky part is trying to create experiences that are fun, but still have that letter. And I think what we do is pretty unique because it's almost in everything that we do. Like there's not a day that we get together as a program that there's not a greater purpose. And sometimes the kids don't even know until we dovetail it back to the end. And then all of a sudden it's like they had, they had a blast and they realize now like, oh my gosh, this was part of our team building or part of our, culture building.

Luke:

And what if they're not getting it, what if they're not finishing in unison? What if it's just, I'm assuming you re you say, do it again or something along those lines would be my guests until they get it right. But what if they're not getting it right? What do you.

Pat:

Well, we do as, as, as coaches, you know, you know, you could, you could turn it on and turn it off, you know, whenever you need to. And, and we get out, we'll get out of the team a little bit and it always ends up like the first, kid that tries to do it, you know, he'll, he'll try and do 10 jumping jacks. She'll tell her when to do 10 and they'll mess it up. And then eventually. It will come down to one, Hey, we're going to do one jumping Jack after about 10, 15 minutes of going around with this. And this is like wonder first grills would do early in the summertime. And eventually the team we'll be able to do one jumping Jack at the same. come hell or high water, we're going to get that one jumping Jack done. And it just the point that's shown to the, team is like, listen, Hey, you know, if we can't do two jumping jacks, how are we supposed to play football around here? And they, you know, they get an early start and they'll get better at that drill. And by the, time, you know, the season starts, it's second nature to us, but it's just a good jumping off point. And it's a good lesson in behaviors that when.

Rob:

You know, I, I think one of the things that pat hits on is, very important is that if there is time dedicated to this, so during our summer, it's not like we're going to do, Hey, pat, you got two minutes of, finish together and perfect. It's going to be a 20 minute segment of tactical work that if they don't get it, that we're going to stick with it. And you know, that's where your philosophy can be. You can either ride a kid negatively or you can. Figured out a way to make that lack of accomplishing the mission a learning point. And you know, you might've lost the battle that day, but eventually you can win the war if you stay consistent with it and choose to use that as a teaching moment, as opposed to you guys can't do anything, right. You can't even do five pushups together, five jumping jacks, You know, when pat says a jumping jacks, there's a lot more to it. Like they have to speak in a certain way and they have to have a swim, your cadence. and so it's difficult and we will applaud the kids for trying, like we're not going to fault them because at the end of the day, they're giving their best effort. And maybe we're just not where we want to be at this point, but we're going to stay consistent. And the second that they do get it, we're going to be praising them like.

Pat:

Yeah. that drills a great way to, to identify your leaders too. I mean, you'll see when you have, 60 or 70 guys out there and you could see which ones are guys are get on the other guys. You could see the guys that are trying to motivate the other guys. You see the guys that are just trying to be positive. You see the guys that you know, are yelling at everyone else. It's really a good identifier to see who's who's your potential leaders.

Luke:

Well, this is great that we actually started the conversation about being intentional with teaching it and doing it throughout the summer, because we're always crunched for time. So let's talk about within the season and that's when you're really crunched for time. Are you still doing a tactical training? How does it look? Do you have to tweak it? Explain that.

Rob:

Well, I think this year, I think I got away from it during the season, just because I felt like we, we needed more time to practice and, and if I could go back and do it all over. I would completely change that philosophy because, uh, some of the issues that we had were directly related to my lack of commitment and, and dedicating time to it. But there are moments within every practice that it's going to be a part of it. So we'll do our dynamic warmup. At the end, the kids will do pushups. They have to finish together and perfect. if they don't they'll do it again until they finished together. Uh, we'll start every practice with eyes and ears, um, and then get into the directives for the practice. and then it's just really, at that point, it's part of what we're doing. So it's not like this intentional 10 minutes worth of time. It is when it's needed. You know, if, if we need to do a non-verbal, we'll do a nonverbal, like we did a two minute visualization drill week nine, where there was no ball. It was completely silent and our offense had to complete their two minute drill from the 20 with, no verbal communication, all non-verbal. And that. was just part of our game plan because we knew we were going to be in a tight ball game with a lot of people there. And uh, I mean, sure enough, we get into that situation where it's two minutes at the end of the game and the kids, the kids just kind of nailed it and were able to execute when there was crunch times. we don't dedicate like the five or 10, but it's just really part of what we're doing.

Pat:

Yeah. If if you're doing it in the summertime, in the foundational, be set, especially with your upperclassmen and it's, pretty easy to reinforce the skills you learn.

Luke:

Well, let's talk about, it starts with the eyes and the ears that Coach Pomazak just alluded to and coach Shannon. My, opinion, the ability to pay attention is at an all time low right now. And it's really frustrating. I have an English background and you're trying to teach reading. Writing, listening and speaking to kids that are on screens all day. So that chapter in your book really perked me up. share what you do at St. Charles north to increase your player's capacity to digest and comprehend.

Pat:

It's a stolen right from bootcamp. And the cool thing about it is coach bombs, Zack, and the other place I used to coach, I used to coach at Riverside Brookfield and coach curtain did the same thing where I brought it to them and, uh, you know, they went with it and it's, it's really, it's really an amazing tool. And basically what it is is, is we use, it's almost like it's just a call and response. And the two words that we use is we use the word eyes and we use the word ears and our, we teach the kids over. Zumiez eyes. The kids are going to immediately respond with the word click. And if coach says ears, they're going to respond. What the word open? And we give these words specific, meaning. So if we says eyes, what that means is everyone has to be looking at me because I have something important to show you that if he says ears, it means, you know, open your ears. Cause I have something important to tell you. If you adopt this and when, if you do it, you have to do it consistently or loses its punch. But if you do it and for two weeks, I mean, you will have your kids attention instantly. You really will. it's almost like Pavlov's dog, your players. Have you say eyes and ears. Here you go. Hi, it's click here. You'll have, you'll have command of the room, like no one in the world will, you know, and it's just a great, you know, it's just a great jumping off point to instruct your players of what you need to teach them. It's it's really incredible tool. I suggest all coaches try it. Cause it, it really does work.

Luke:

So to clarify. Think about how often throughout a practice we have to have their eyes and ears on it. So I'll often are you doing this?

Pat:

Probably more than you realize. the coach starts off with, would practice with it and I use it in my, in my position group and coach use it at the end of practice. And, uh, you know, the one thing nice about this tactical training is, every single coach in the program can facilitate the training, without too much prompting it's one thing nice about the thing we do is all the coaches. Buy into it and use it. And it's very beneficial. So every coach can use it in its position groups. So I, I really know how many times we use it during the day, but I know it's a lot.

Rob:

Yeah. I mean, it's, it's just part of the vernacular and I'll use it to start off with our segments when we're going to go through practice just to get everybody's attention. I'll use it during my individual drill with my corners, just to get, if they're talking, just to get their attention. I mean, we were talking earlier about, we were in the state championship game and, things were kind of getting a little bit out of control and we call the timeout. Everybody's talking on the sidelines. And I said, eyes, they said, click. I said ears. They said open. And we, went over the situation. We talked about what we needed to do to execute and how we were going to do it. And the boys were able to do it. You know, I just think it's one of those devices we don't ever say, like shut up. You know, like, that's like, you don't say that in our program because that's, that's a derogatory statement. That's not the program that we're going to. we're going to use that as our way of getting your attention. and the kids are great about it because that's when you really start to know it's taking shape, because if there's somebody who has not checked in at that point, they will be checked in by some, one of their teammates, because you only say at once, you know, and if you've got to say it more than once, everybody knows that there's going to be, there's going to be some, uh, some issues after practice.

Luke:

I love what you said about shut up. That drives me crazy. And I just was talking to my team about that exact phrase. They say it it's well-intended when they say it, right. They're trying to get their teammate's attention and saying, Hey, listen, coach has something to say, but yes. I tried to explain the negativity behind that phrase and why it doesn't work. So, that's a great way to explain it. And it's good advice to how to help command a room and also for your players to communicate with each other, because they don't know how to do that, especially in today's world. Right. They do not understand positive interactions, coach promise X stick with you since implementing this tactical training, where have you seen the most growth in your.

Rob:

I've seen the most growth in their attentiveness and their ability to take a directive and then accomplish it. And I think pat keeps using a word mission that we have carried through in everything that we do. you know, there's the mission statement. But then there's the weekly mission or the daily mission that we have. And that is important for us to communicate with our guys to explain there's a beginning and there's an end and here's where we're starting and here's the directives, and this is going to be what we accomplish at the end of this, so that they start to learn. That there's always a very clear cut beginning and end to what we're trying to do. and so that was something that I've taken with him and our game plans are, you know, called missions. they're not necessarily, game plans. Our, our Monday meeting is going to be, it's mission possible. Like, Well, what are we going to do? What's the mission this week? And, that's been pretty great because then the kids buy into it. Like they start to understand that, that aspect. You know, just the applicability of being able to, communicate quickly and get a bunch of 16, 17, and 18 year olds to do some things that are out of their comfort zone. whether it's a water balloon fight or having a pool noodle in their hand, or, leading each other in a weight room and then connecting, without their phones, without social media, is something that I think is really cool. And then the final thing would be. The, the lasting impression it makes, like, if I ever see any of my former players, if I say eyes, they, we could be at the grocery store and they will say click, you know? And it's, it turns into just one of those memories that they have as a, as a high school football player that, you know, is just something kind of, it brings a smile to them.

Luke:

Well, my hope is people listening to this episode right now are really excited about this unique approach to teaching kids. Lifelong skills is what you're also ultimately teaching them that are also going to equate to more wins on the field. So coach Shannon, what are some of the roadblocks? Obstacles that a listener can expect if he or she is planning to implement this tactical training into their programs.

Pat:

You know, at the, the roadblocks are just going to be normal roadblocks of no matter what you're trying to teach us. 16, 17, 15 year old, football player. It's gotta be the same thing. You gotta have some kids that are, don't take it seriously. You gonna have the kids to goof around a little bit with it. Uh, you know, those things. you would implement this the same way you would implement, running the wishbone. you be positive. You show them why and how it's going to work for them, how it's going to benefit them. And they liked that. And that seems to work. a little bit better, but, you know, I think you're going to run it through your normal roadblocks. So you would with any high school,

Luke:

And let's get back to your book or wrapping up this episode, give your last pitch coach Shannon on how your book could help our listeners get to the next.

Pat:

And I hate to, I hate to call it a pitch because I am not a good self-promoter. I I'm just trying to give coaches another tool in their toolbox, you know, the be successful. I mean, that's, that's all I really want. I just want, I'm not saying it's this, isn't the best thing in the world. It's not the end all be all. I'm not saying that, if you don't do a journal, what you're doing, coach palms, Zack, gave us an opportunity to put together this little curriculum and this little training. And we went with it and we like it. Our program likes that our kids like it. And it's just another little tool that you could put in your toolbox. So we'll help you, you know, hopefully, get your program, the build more successful if you want it to be.

Luke:

And where can listeners find you?

Pat:

I it's on Amazon. It's just a football tactical training, by Patrick Shannon. It should pop up. It's right. The last time I checked this rare Neetha bill checks book,

Luke:

Yeah, there you go. Good spot to be there code and a, I will be sure to link that in our show notes as well to all of our lists. coach Palm is act my last question to you. Uh, I know you're really passionate about impacting players off the field and that's something that, I share with you. I think that's really our job especially as a head coach, We have a lot of things to manage, but that's the most important one. Why should coaches focus on impacting lives?

Rob:

cause that's, that's our calling. I mean, that's, as a coach, your job is to create a lasting impact in a positive way on every person that comes into contact with your program. And it doesn't always work out that way. But if you, if your mission, when you wake up is to be a positive influence and maybe just make a dent in their life. That is going to be something that is a feel good moment or a good memory. Then to me, you can't guarantee wins and losses. You just can't. And I learned. You know, after a couple of years that the quantifiable wins and losses while they're great, they are so fleeting. Um, I remember being on the bus ride home from the state championship. And we had lost, and I thought to myself, whether you win or lose that game, you still have to go back to work the next day. there's no res there's no, promotion, you're going to have to go back to work and start all over. So at that moment, I realized that, you know, the wins and losses are great and yes, nobody wants to win more than the head coach. Parents I'll say that we all want to win. But I guarantee you that if I can make a positive impact, on our players, and if my coaches can make a positive impact, that's going to come back to you two or three.

Luke:

Well, I know that you make a positive impact on our coaching profession as a whole. You're really active on social media. You have a lot of great, different platforms to follow. So feel free to share to our listeners how they connect. And some of your coaching resources you have out there.

Rob:

Yeah, Um, I would have been fortunate enough to, uh, do a couple podcasts on USA football with Keith Grabowski. So you can find. Um, at USA football.com, uh, I've also have teamed up with Nate Alba of chief pigskin football to start an offshoot of his, brand called the root coaches culture club. that's also on Twitter at, at root coaches, culture club. You can find it on, on Twitter if you search it. Um, and then there's right. My regular Twitter handle at Robert Palmer. I just think that the coaching profession is a special thing. I know it's a hard job. I think being a head coach is one of the most difficult jobs that there is out there. but it's also the most rewarding. And I just want to provide an honest opinion and support for people who are going through this, crazy thing that we call being a head football coach, which is unimportant, but it's also one of the most important things to.

Luke:

yeah, I think we're going to have to have you back on coach and we could do a whole separate episode on just being a head coach because everyone thinks they're so prepared to be a head coach, and then you become a head coach. And the first thing you learn is you are so not prepared to be a head coach. Am I right on that?

Rob:

I'm sorry, I'm laughing. So yeah, like, like you don't know what you don't know. And, uh, man, I got the position when I was 34 and I'm 43 now. And I'll tell you what, like, what a trip, what I, everybody should go through it. Like when you, when you have to be out there in front of a couple thousand people and a winning or losing in that? way, it's just a really good experience. Cause you find out a lot about yourself, uh, in a, in a very weird environment.

Luke:

No doubt. Well,

Pat:

that. He picks up a lot of checks too, which is nice.

Luke:

yeah, so, you know, being a head coach, we share that in common with you coach Shannon, being a head coach is the greatest thing you'll never want to do again. It's kind of like bootcamp. But to the important part of the episode, the book giveaway. And as I promised at the beginning of the episode, we are going to give one lucky listener, a free copy of coach Shannon's book. And all you have to do is one little simple thing. I want you to post on Twitter, why you should receive the free copy of kosher Shannon's book and tag me at Luke Mertens. Whichever post gets the most likes by this Friday. We'll be the winner and we will ship you the book on coach Shannon's dime. So again, I have to

Pat:

If it's a, if it's anybody from St Pat's going to be cash on delivery.

Luke:

uh, well, you know how that works, but, uh, yeah, absolutely. So it can post on Twitter, why you should receive the free copy of coach Ann's book tag me at Luke Mertens and whoever gets the most likes by Friday, we will get that to you. to all of our listeners, I will have coached Shannon. in our show notes and I'll also have multiple links for, all of coach Palm Zach's resources as well in our show notes and expect you to reach out to both these coaches as they are great resources for anyone in the coaching profession. It does not have to be just football and gentlemen, that wraps up our episode. So thank you so much for, being honored. Really appreciate you.

Pat:

Thank you. Lucas had a good time.

Rob:

How has the blast, Luke, thanks so much for doing this for coaches. I really appreciate it.

Luke:

actually I lied. There is one more thing, coach Shannon. We have to settle a dispute out there since you did bring up same paths. Can you just clarify that I was the best player you've ever coached in St. Pat's history. Can you just get that

Pat:

Without, a doubt, Without, a doubt, Defensive end number 44. Right.

Luke:

There you go. There you go. Now everybody knows. See, I

Pat:

Yeah.

Luke:

I tell everyone, but no one believes me. So, all right. Thanks guys. Appreciate it. have a great rest of your weekend. We'll talk soon.

Patrick Shannon Profile Photo

Patrick Shannon

Coach / Author

Patrick Shannon has been coaching High School football for over 25 years, in Chicago and in the surrounding areas. He has coached at private and public schools, and has coached on both sides of the ball. He was the offensive coordinator at Holy Cross High School and is currently a varsity position coach at St. Charles North High School in St. Charles, Illinois.

Robert Rocco Pomazak Profile Photo

Robert Rocco Pomazak

Head Coach

22 years Teacher and Coach
Married 13 years Father of Twin Daughters (8)
10 years as HC of St. Charles North High School
2018 State Runner Up 7a