RC Slocum, former head coach at Texas A&M, wrote a retirement letter to high school coaches in Texas several years ago. The letter itself should (and will be) a blog of its own, but one topic that stuck with me was his encouragement to use a battalion system of putting players in small groups in offseason. "As a player, you are accountable to yourself, but you are also accountable to your battalion. When a player steps out of line, the player is punished, usually a difficult conditioning run, but if it happens a second time, the entire battalion runs. Stepping out of line usually revolved around class and study hall attendance, but it wasn’t limited to that. The seniors who understood the purpose of battalions drafted not based upon talent, but based upon accountability."
We decided to go all in with our version of the battalion system. Our coaches 'drafted' six battalions when our season ended starting with to-be-seniors who we know must become vocal leaders. Each battalion has every position type and classification. We made sure (as best we could) the groups were as even as possible with abilities, character and leadership. We even purchased six different color shirts to give each battalion a different 'uniform'.
As I was preparing this blog, I spoke with our coaching staff for feedback on their thoughts of our battalion system. Here are some of the comments:
"The players are learning to step-up with encouraging each other on effort. We are able to coach more technique and less on effort because leaders are becoming more vocal."
"When we have our short meetings each day I reinforce what will make the entire battalion get punished and they make sure it doesn't happen."
"Our leaders have figured out to get in the front, middle and back of battalion lines to help with corrections, etc."
"When we compete in the weight room (we want our guys getting as many sets as possible in a time period) our leaders are being very vocal pushing teammates so their group has the most sets."
"The locker room has never been cleaner. This is because our battalions are grouped together and are making sure their area is spotless."
We are excited about our battalion system and the changes it is bringing in our program. The guys who are borderline and want to 'blend in' are being held accountable by their teammates. Our guys are strategizing to figure out how to accumulate positive points and decrease negative points (each group has running total of points). We will celebrate the winning group with a meal to begin the second semester and then we will allow are best leaders to 're-draft' new battalions now that they will understand the importance of character and 'count on me' guys.
Just this morning we punished three entire battalions for having guys in their group with unexcused absences. We won't have to do this often! Guys will not only figure out who we can count on, who we must change and that they must be a part of the process!
If you are doing any type of battalion/platoon system and have great ideas on this subject please tag me on twitter @CoachJacksonTPW and share. Not only will our program at NF benefit, but several others as well.
*A detailed, easy-to-understand powerpoint (21 slides) to available for purchase in our store.