It’s a tough ingredient to add to your team and many a coach has lost plenty of hair and sleep trying to get his or her team to stay disciplined during a game.
I had a football coach back in the day (yes it was well after leather helmets came out) who always preached to us about how devastating a penalty can be to the psyche of a team.
It was his thought that while penalties happen, usually at the worst possible time, they were such momentum killers at any point of a game he urged us to avoid them at all costs.
We wondered out loud just how we could do that and he laid it out for us in such a way it made sense to our young minds.
He said penalties reflect one of three things.
Offside and procedure showed a lack of concentration so offensive players were pressed to remember the snap count and defensive players told to watch the ball at all times.
Holding, blocking in the back and pass interference were all reflections of a lack of judgment.
He felt if you were always in the right position on a play you wouldn’t have to commit any of these penalties so it was drummed into us to be in the best spot possible each play and we should work hard at making sure that happened.
Lastly, taunting, personal fouls and roughing all came under the umbrella of a lack of self-control. This was a biggie in such an emotional game with a bunch of guys who were, well very emotional about the game of football.
But his point was about how selfish those penalties were, how much they really hurt the team and you paid a stiff price for committing one.
So when I see players taking these same penalties I can picture my former coach giving the player ‘that’ look .
In the end, he felt all were correctable situations and as a team we won many games including a provincial title using that same philosophy.
All along the way we took very few penalties by the way and when I got into coaching I preached the same thing.