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BOB LADOUCEUR

DEVELOPMENT, MOTIVATION, and PREPARATION


De La SALLE HIGH SCHOOL, CALIFORNIA

I do want to tell you a little about loose my train of thought. I cannot


where I come from and where I am go on to the next play with someone
today and where I started my talking in my ear. So I just do not
coaching career. I have just wear the headsets. Everything we do
completed my 24th year as head coach is very basic and simple. One thing
at De La Salle High School. I that we do well is the fact that we
started coaching there when I was 25 are technicians. However, we still
years old. I do not claim to know keep it very basic in what we are
any more football than any of you. doing.
If fact, I know a lot less than a
lot of you as far as X’s and O’s, I like to go to campuses of the
schemes, designs, and formations. colleges and junior colleges. I like
What I do know is that I work with to meet 1-on-1 with the position
kids. When you work with kids you coaches. I meet with them and ask
must learn how to maximize their them questions that are related to
potential. This lecture is going to my situation. I take their answer
be on what I do in our program. and adapt it to my coaching
techniques.
I am not computer literate. I know
how to use the word processor. I do We run the Split Backs Veer offense.
not have any of the latest software That is about 50 percent of our
on scouting. I do not wear a headset offense. The other 50 percent I have
during the game. I am the offensive totally plagiarized from teams that
coordinator and I coach the we have played against. If those
offensive line. I just came from plays will fit into our formations,
Coach Andy Ludwig’s lecture. He did I will put them in our play book. We
a great job. I think I have three do run some four wide-out sets and
red zone plays and that is about it. some three wide-out sets. Our
The amount of time we have to work offense is like a menu. In some
with our team limits us in the years we take a lot of our offense
amount of material we can put into from column A and the next year we
our offense. A big reason why we are will take a lot of the offense from
successful is the fact that what we column B. It all depends on our
do put in our program, we do really personnel.
well. Our kids understand what we
are doing. It is very simple. I am Two years ago we had an outstanding
not that good in putting in a quarterback who went to the
complex scheme. I can’t keep all of University of Michigan. That year we
the material straight in my head used a lot of four wide-outs. We did
when I am in a game. That is one of not run that many Split Backs Veer
the reasons I do not wear a headset. plays. This year we will run the
I’m not that smart. When someone is Split Backs Veer a lot more. We are
talking in my ear and I’m very careful about taking the
concentrating on what is going on materials from our playbook. We do
out on the field, it causes me to

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not want to overload the kids with a is for our personnel. All of our
lot of plays. kids come to me telling me they want
to play defense. I tell them they
There are four things that I think cannot play defense until they
are critical to our success. At establish themselves as an offensive
least they are really important to player. Nothing is more demoralizing
our success. I have these points to a team than to have an offense
written down so I do not forget move the ball down the field on them
them. The most important person in by running the ball and controlling
your program is your strength-and- the football. It happens to us when
conditioning coach. I have a great a team starts making first downs on
strength-and-conditioning coach. He us. They start to get an edge as far
works on flexibility, speed as their confidence to win the game.
enhancement, change of direction and
strength development. All of our I want to get our best linemen on
lifts are just like a practice. our offense. I think you must work
There are no chairs in our weight it from the tight end to the inside.
room. There is no music in the The best offensive lineman must be
weight room. That does not mean it the tight end. He has to block and
is not fun to have music in the he has to catch the football. He
weight room. But our kids are must be a multi- player. I think the
working and they know it is to be weakest player can be the center.
treated like a practice. This goes That is how I usually set our
for the entire year and not just linemen up.
during the season. You must have
your best players working on the The team that can capture the neu-
weights during the off-season. tral zone will win the game. All of
our steps are positive progressive
I used to coach the strength-and- steps. We work on our steps all year
conditioning phase of our program. I long. When we do drill work on the
did it for 15 years. Now I have a field, we have a quarterback calling
special strength and conditioning the cadence and we come off the ball
coach. I go in the weight room to on the snap. We have our linemen po-
see what he is doing and to see what sitioned on the field where they are
is going on the field. It is next to each other so they can work
different from what I did. drills together. We do not want them
scattered all over the field. We
If I were to go back to coaching in work on their stance and their first
the weight room, I would have to go three steps out of the stance. When
back to school to learn what they we are not in pads we work on these
are working on today. He is very steps and the blocking angles. We
skilled in what he does. work on them all year long.
Unfortunately, the University of
College coaches will come to look at
California hired him away from us.
our films. They will ask me how we
He is the head strength coach for
get our linemen to come off the ball
basketball. I was lucky enough to
so quick. I really do not have a
get a kid that worked under the
secret for them. We work on it year
former strength coach who graduated
round. There is no secret to them
from UCLA and we are working with
coming off the ball.
him to pick the program up and to
continue the program.
When we are warming up and when we
I think your priority unit should be
are doing our agilities, I am behind
your offensive line. I coach the
them. If their feet are not
offensive line and I want everyone
positioned right, if they do not
to know this is where our priority
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step out properly, I keep working he is going to move the blocker and
with them on it. We are always stand him up. If the blocker gets
working to get them off the ball all his second step down before the
year. defender does, he will stand the
defensive man up on his second step.
Linemen, who can get their second
step down before their opponent, Our kids understand our approach to
will win the 1-on-1 battle. I used the offensive line techniques. If
to get really intimidated by this they can understand what we are
statement and tried to make this trying to accomplish, the rest is
technique simple. I do not think common sense. Once they understand
offensive line play is as what we want, and then see it in a
complicated or as intimidating as it film and see the success once they
appears to be. There are situations take the proper steps, then they
that come up that you are not going believe in it.
to be able to solve. I will admit
the fact that I cannot answer that This has been proven to me by past
question and go on. experience in working with our kids.
When our linemen get off the ball
We work all blocks on the tandem and get those steps down quick, and
block. We very seldom see defenders then punch the defensive lineman,
lined up on us head-up. Most times they start moving people. What is so
they are on our outside shoulder in hard to teach is that second step.
a shade technique. Our first step is They usually get hit before they can
a six-inch step with the near foot. get the second step down and they
The second step must be a long step get rocked back into their stance.
to split the stance of the defender. This is what I am talking about when
I say we want to get the kids off
TANDEM BLOCK the ball in the summertime. In the
summer workouts they have a tendency
to come off the line like sprinters.
They come out high and they have
their feet close together. They do
not come off the first steps as if
they are blocking someone. I get the
rubbers between their feet and I
work on them staying low to high. I
do this even when they are working
against air. They like to rise up
high and run. That is not how they
are going to come off the ball in a
We use our hands and arms to rip game. They must come out low and the
through the defender to stand him target is going to be right in front
up. We are working with the of them.
offensive linemen next to him and he
is doing the same thing. All of our Our running game is an offensive
linemen are working in stacks or priority. I do not think high school
combination blocks. We work on the kids are skilled enough to be in an
first two steps all year. When we exclusive passing game offense. Even
watch the game film and our practice if we do employ the four wide-out
film that is the one thing I look sets, we still work the running
at. game. We run the stretch, trap,
speed option, and other plays. We
If the defender gets his second step are a run offense. We try to run the
down before the offensive man does, ball on everyone. We never abandon
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our running game. We feel we can hit because I know the entire scheme of
on something in our running game everything we are doing with the
that is going to work for us. program. I could step outside and
coach the wide-outs. I could go
Everyone must create the ability to across the line and coach the
attack on defense. When the offense linebackers. I know what the
starts moving the ball on you, your secondary is doing.
defense must disrupt what they are
doing to your defense. A lot of young coaches come through
our program. They want to become a
Next I want to cover some things head coach. I tell them they must
that I have learned in my 24 years feel comfortable enough to coach
of coaching. A lot of these things every position on the field. If they
many of you already do in your do not know how to coach the wide
program. What I am going to talk receivers, the kids will know it and
about now are keys to working well they will not listen to him. If he
with your players. I am going to knows what he is talking about they
talk about motivation. I am not a will listen to him. If you do not
natural motivator in terms of people know how to coach all of the
like Lou Holtz or other coaches who positions on the field, your
can get in front of a group and fire efficiency drops dramatically.
them up with words. I am not that
way. That type of motivation is You must know the techniques for the
simple. I think real motivation must position you are coaching. I am sure
come from a set sense of feedback most of you know this, but do you
from your kids. That is what we are really adhere to it? I think you
good at doing. must coach techniques all year long.
You must know when techniques are
Getting your team to play with not being used. You must know what
emotion is not a game-day ritual. you are looking for in the
The motive to getting your team to techniques. I think you must provide
play is a yearlong process. First of feedback to the players to get them
all, you must earn the respect of to improve their techniques. The
your players. There are a lot of feedback must be positive.
ways to do that. A lot of people
will tell you that kids today are You must coach every snap, in every
not motivated and they are playing drill, in every lift, in each get-
the game for themselves. I disagree off, and in the stance all year
on this point. Kids want to please long. I have seen coaches who did
you. They want to please me as well. not know what they were looking for.
They want my approval that what they You must know what you are looking
are doing is good and that they are for and you must look for it all of
doing the right thing. When I was the time. It is tedious work to
playing high school football I watch what the kids are doing.
always wanted to please my head
coach and get his approval. I think One of the best things you can do
this is still true today with kids. for your kids is to teach them to be
They want to get your approval. The problem solvers. If you do not know
question is how do we accomplish the answers don’t fake them. Tell
this with kids? them you do not know the answer. The
kids will come up with some
First, I think you must know the situations where there are no
game well. You must know your phase solutions. If we have a situation
of the game especially. I think one where we cannot block a defender, I
of the reasons my kids respect me is will tell them we can’t block that
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guy. “Hopefully the quarterback will years. Some coaches’ work well with
see him coming and get rid of the a written out practice schedule. I
ball.” Teach kids to solve problems do not want to use the structured
on their own. After the season practice schedule.
starts, the offensive line will come
out of the game and they will huddle To teach the kids respect, you must
together and talk about the let them know you are on their side.
situation with each other. They do I will do anything I can for them.
not come to me. I encourage this If they have any problems or need my
with them. I want them to figure help, I will be there for them. But
things out for themselves. I am not going to be their buddy. I
tell them they need me as their
Don’t assume anything with the kids. football coach. That is what I am
Kids will forget things from year to going to do. I am going to try to
year. I never try to fake anything bring them together as a team and I
about football knowledge. The kids am going to try to get them to coop-
will know if you know football. If erate with each other and to love
you tell them you do not know the each other. We are going to do all
answer they will respect that. If of the tangible things. I am not go-
you will work on it with them they ing to be their buddy. I am not go-
will respect you even more. I have ing to try to fit into their world
seen coaches come out on the field and I do not want them to try to fit
and change personalities. They may into my world. That is okay. They
be the nicest guys off the field, need you in that role. I think a
but when the go on the field they coach needs to know his team. You
are tigers. I encourage our coaches must know the subculture of the
not to do this. Kids know when you team. Know who is a party guy, know
change personalities on the field. their grades, and know who is having
Be yourself on the field. If you are problems in class. Know who gets
a nice guy off the field you can be along with the players and who does
a nice guy on the field. You are out not get along with them. These
there for the kids and not out there things will come out during the
to try to intimidate the players. course of the season. Sometimes it
comes out when it is too late. I am
If you are good at what you teach not a busy body but I like to know
the kids will be very respectful. I what is going on inside the team. If
like to be organized from drill to there is something wrong with the
drill. I never go on the practice team, usually a little birdie will
field with a planned practice come by and let you know about it.
schedule. I have my play cards with When we hear this we move. A lot of
me. Every time I have gone out to coaches will tell you they do not
practice with a planned practice want to hear about the outside prob-
schedule I never stick to that lems. Kids do not respect that atti-
schedule. Our staff will meet before tude. The other kids on the team
practice and decide how much time we want you to get involved. If a
need for each drill in the practice player on our team is involved in
that day. On some days a coach will drinking alcoholic beverages, the
tell me they need more time on a other kids want me to go after that
drill. We go along with him and give player and I will.
him another 10 minutes. We want to
get a feel for what we are working
We have a rule year round against
on each drill. If we need to drop a
drinking alcohol. I have suspended
drill from our schedule it is not a
kids for games in September for
problem. I do not think I have had a
drinking in April. They have
timed practice schedule for over 20
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included starters and subs. We have a.m. Other coaches in our program
given them warnings and told them we are good about this. They do not
would suspend them if we caught them mind if their players are involved
a second time. We have caught them in our weight program.
that second time and we have
suspended them. Those players turned When September rolls around the
out to be very good leaders on the players will have a lot invested if
team. We get a lot more out of them they work from January to September.
by sitting them out for two games We work on power lifts, plyometrics,
than we would have if we had chosen tracking, and testing.
to let the problem go.
We take the time to evaluate our
The kids will respect the rules if
players previous season. I am late
you enforce them. It is tough to
getting to it this year but that is
live by the rules but they will
what I am doing now. I am evaluating
respect them if you enforce them.
the kids who will be with us the
That may be the reason we have such
next year. I give the players a
a small squad. We only have about 40
flyer to evaluate their season. I
players on the team.
stole this from the University of
Nebraska. Basically I have the
Five of my coaches today have played
players’ grade themselves. You could
for me in the past. When they jump
give them this evaluation any time
on board they are very enthusiastic.
of the year. It is an opportunity
I do not want my coaches talking
for the players to give an
down to the kids. I remember what
assessment of the type of year they
words my coach taught me. I can
think they have had and they can let
remember words that my Pop Warner
you know what they think is
coach told me that I did not want to
important. Some of the questions I
hear. Coaches can say things that go
like and some I do not like. You can
right through the heart of the
make up your own questions and let
players. Do not underestimate the
them fill it out. They turn it in to
power you have over your kids. I
me and I review it. I either agree
have had players come back to coach
with them or I disagree with them.
for me and they will remind me of
what I said back in the 1980s. I get
Most of the players coming back for
embarrassed. I have to apologize to
the next season will usually have a
them. You must be careful what you
good assessment of how they expect
say to kids because they remember
to play. They may say they are going
what you say. The power a coach has
to be excellent next season. I will
over the players is dramatic. If you
make the comment that I do not think
treat kids with respect they will
they will be that good unless they
always come back to you. When they
do a lot of work in the off-season.
get older they will take what you
A lot of the players will want to
gave them and it will be a part of
know why they are not starters. I
who they are in life. For the kids
will use this evaluation to go over
to believe in you, you must do all
the reasons I think the need to work
of those things as a coach.
harder. They will know what you
think of them and they will know
Let me talk about our program from
where they stand with you.
the standpoint of the off-season up
to the fall practice. We start our
Goal setting is a big part of our
lifting program in January. We work
program. Our kids are goal setting
to get 100-percent participation. If
right now while they lift. Football
our kids are involved in other
is the farthest thing from their
sports, we have them lift at 6:30
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minds at this time of the year. The a Division-I player they cannot miss
only thing they are thinking about workouts.
is if they are going to get stronger
and faster for next year. That is For some of the players their goal
what motivates them. They are may be to start the next year. In
working very hard in the weight room order to do that, they must set
now. We are going to give them a specific goals. They will have to
program they can be successful with. lift a certain amount of weight, or
We tell them when we are going to they will have to gain a certain
test them and what we expect of amount of weight. It may be that he
them. They have already set goals wants to be faster than he is at the
and that is what really motivates time the goal is set. Goals must be
them in the weight room. We do not measurable. I have the players write
get in the weight room and yell at out their goals in a contract form
them to work harder. That does not and I ask them to hang them in their
do the trick. For them it is: “I room at home. I keep a copy of the
want to get this amount on this next contract as well. If they are not
lift.” working to meet those goals I will
pull their goal sheet out and remind
We goal set all year round. In my them of the goals they have written
experience, kids do not know how to down. I will call them in and ask
set goals. Neither do they know how them if they are still working to
to be leaders. You must teach them achieve their goals. This lets them
how to do both. When teammates elect know they must be a man of their
a player to be a captain, it does word and they must stay on track.
not mean that kid knows anything
about leadership. You must train I go over the goal sheet with the
your team leaders constantly. You players. I want their goals to be
must train them how you want them to very specific. It can help them
lead. I do not like leaders that are reach the goals if they are written
just yellers. I like leaders who can down and are specific. A lot of kids
lead behind the scenes. I really do want to achieve the goals but they
not like the screamers and yellers. do not know how to get started.
Most of the young players who are
selected as captains think leading Our summer workouts are mandatory.
is bossing people around. That is We cannot make them mandatory but,
the antithesis of leading. It is the our kids know that they are
same thing with goal setting. mandatory. Summer is where the team
is created. The players may tell me
Kids do not know how to set goals. they are going to be away for a
They will come in to see me about month during the summer. I will tell
setting their goals and they tell me them this is fine, but I let them
they are going to go 100 percent. know they will have to play JV ball
Another example is they will tell me in the fall. I let them have two
they want to be a Division-I player. weeks off. If they want to take a
To me that is a dream. They must two-week vacation, that is the time
have some concrete goals. They must to do it. They have to make all of
have an action plan of how they are the other workouts after that two-
going to accomplish their goals. week vacation period. If the players
They must understand how they must want to split the time up into two
change their attitude and work one-week periods, that is fine with
behavior. Goals must be observable me.
and they must be clearly measurable.
They are doing them or they are not One problem we ran into with letting
doing their goals. If the want to be them pick the time they wanted off
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from the weight program was the is created. This is where the kids
seniors were taking Saturday morning put their investment into the
off. That is one of our best program.
workouts. We work from 8:30 a.m. to
12:30 p.m. A lot of the seniors were I have a lot of players tell me they
missing that practice. I had to step work through the summer. I tell
in and tell the seniors they could them, “Give me your boss’s telephone
not take anymore Saturdays off. They number and I will see if we can work
wanted the vacation time to be out something for you.” They never
Saturday morning. I convinced them give me that number. I get all of
they were totally defeating the the workouts set up and print them
purpose of what we were working for. out on a calendar along with our
passing league schedule. On the back
Question: Do we give the players of the schedule is the list of all
time off at the end of school? The of the kids with their phone numbers
answer to that question is no. We go and addresses. They will know how to
straight into our weight program. We car pool and how to get to practice.
give the kids about four or five This also encourages recreational
days off around Easter time. The activities within the team as well.
kids are off from the end of our Before the summer is over I know who
regular season, which is the first our defensive backs are going to be.
or second week of December until we I find this out in our passing
come back to school in mid-January. league and in our drill work. We use
They are off about one month. We do the passing league to find our
not start back until the second week skilled personnel including the
in January. That is the time off for defensive backs. You must use team-
the players. The coaching staff building activities during this
schedules our vacation for our time. You cannot go out and tell the
families around each other. One or players, “We must play as a team.”
two of the coaches are always at the That is not going to make it happen
workouts. just by saying it. You must create
opportunities to make that happen. I
Our summer workouts are hard. They have a few activities that work very
are long and they are tedious. We go well for us.
three days per week. All of the
players come in on their off days. In closing, let me give you an off-
We will open the weight room and the season activity that I think is
linemen will come in and work on the good. I am not a camper so I do not
things they need extra work on. If go camping. I am in the classroom a
they need more upper-body work, they lot and I like the classroom work. I
will work that fourth day. Again, take the linemen and I give them a
they all do it on their own. I say questionnaire. I take them in a room
they have to make three days a week and I talk with them. I will tell
but they can show up on the optional them what they need help with. I ask
days as well on their own. We them to list two long-term and two
include all of our running drills short-term goals. I ask them what
and all of our stretching drills in the greatest advantage is in achiev-
the workouts. I will work the ing their goals. I ask them what
workout schedules around our passing holds them back from achieving their
league calendar. The total amount of goals. I ask them if they see them-
time the kids work will vary from selves as a leader or a follower.
time to time. We could spend five to
five-and-a-half hours in the
I try to get players together to
workout. It can be a tough workout
talk in groups. Keep in mind this is
but I think this is where your team
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a session to help the kids to see
what they are capable of doing. It
is not a session to tear down the
kids. The kids will hold themselves
accountable for each other. That has
worked for me and it has helped our
program.

My time is up but I will be glad to


answer any questions. Thank you for
your attention.