Pandemic Impact TECHNOLOGY

AFCA offers coaches free month of digital library, daily online clinics

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

If you’re looking for professional development opportunities during the month of April. the American Football Coaches Association has you covered.

As part of a promotional effort to give coaches educational content during the coronavirus outbreak, the AFCA has opened its library of educational resources to all coaches for free during the month of April.

The AFCA also is offering free daily clinics via Zoom Conferencing at 2 p.m. CST. Typically, a college coach will lead the discussion with his specific area of expertise.

FNF Coaches recently connected with AFCA Director of Coaching Education Mario Price to discuss his association’s outreach efforts for coaches.

How has the AFCA shifted its strategy since the coronavirus outbreak?

“It’s been extremely interesting, to say the least. We’re navigating uncharted waters. It’s causing a lot of coaches to get creative to continue their mission. Normally during this time of year, we wouldn’t be doing anything directly with coaches. As soon as the pandemic and isolation orders came out, one of the first things we saw online was a lot of coaches sharing ideas and knowledge. They were doing Zoom calls and clinics with each other.”

And you decided to get involved in the discussion?

“One of the marquee events of the year for us is our convention. It’s nothing but a big clinic and networking event. We have access to coaches at this event, so we call them and talk throughout the year. We decided to do our own virtual clinics. It started off with a couple of people. Then, we shifted to doing it every day. We’ll have a coach from college or pro football come on and talk about a topic. It’s not necessarily about X’s and O’s, but most are. Some are recruiting, some are position-specific. It’s just giving back to the coaching community when they’re locked at home.”

What made you decide to open up the library?

“The social-distancing deadlines got pushed back through the end of April. We said, ‘You know what? We have a phenomenal library of educational footage from our conventions over the years. We have thousands of hours of video. We know it’s typically for members. Let’s create a free membership pass. That way, regardless of whether a coach is a member, he can stay home and sharpen his tool.'”

Have you found that coaches are more accessible now that they’re all at home?

“Our association is a little different because we don’t have to go through sports information directors at colleges. Our executive director coached for 40 years, we’ve all coached for large chunks of time. We can call a lot of guys directly. As far as being accessible and being able to commit to leading a clinic at kind of an odd time like 2 p.m., that’s what’s been different. Surprisingly, some coaches will reach out to me and say, ‘Hey — I like what you’re doing and if you need somebody, give me a shout.'”

How can coaches tune in to the online clinics at 2 p.m.?

“The coaches have been promoting it on their socials, and we do the same thing @WeAreAFCA. Click in to the Zoom link and show up. If you can’t, we give it away a few hours later in our educational library. You can always come back and watch it a couple of hours later.”

What type of content are coaches looking for right now?

“We wouldn’t be interacting with coaches right now because a lot of them would be coaching a second sport or gearing up for OTAs. Our engagements wouldn’t be that high. One of the things we’ve done is spotlight coaches who are communicating with players or writing strength and conditioning programs. We want to show how coaches are utilizing technology at this time. We’ve been putting together a ton of content. We’re giving coaches more tools to be effective remotely.”

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk