National Coach of the Year: 6 Tips to Energize a Program This Offseason

A high school coach should set the tone for the offseason with his energy and attitude. If a coach takes his foot off the accelerator, the players will follow. To the contrary, a coach who leads with energy in the offseason can gain ground on opponents during the winter and spring months.

John Rollinson led Mater Dei (Calif.) to its second straight national championship with a victory in the CIF State Open Division championship game Dec. 8.

The reigning National Coach of the Year has mastered the art of motivating everyone associated with his program over his 30 years as head coach. He recently offered five tips for energizing a program to FNF Coaches.

Energize everybody involved with the program.

“What I emphasize to any coach is this: It is your responsibility as a head coach to motivate and re-energize everybody involved with your program. That includes the administration, coaches, parents and players. It’s a new year. You’re responsible for generating that excitement.”

Update all outdated equipment.

“Schedule a meeting with your equipment man. If you’re the equipment man, design an agenda. What do you want to accomplish? What is the status of the game uniforms? Have you send the helmets for reconditioning? That determines how many purchases you’ll need to make. Is all of the equipment collected and accounted for?”

Reconsider the strength and conditioning program.

“Plan a meeting with the strength and conditioning coach. Never use the word ‘maintenance’ when you’re talking about lifting. The minute kids hear that, they think you’re going to back down with lighter reps and less weight. We lift hard during the season. The entire program is designed to build to the end of the season when we’re playing a state championship game on Dec. 8. We’re going to lift four times a week regardless of holidays and vacations.”

Meet with coaches.

“I meet with coordinators first, then position coaches for varsity, the head JV coach, and then the head freshman coach. At the end of the evaluation period, I reconvene with the coordinators.We discuss the things that were brought up by the assistants.”

Skip the player meetings.

“I personally don’t do closure meetings with every returning player. I used to do it, and I found it to be an exercise in futility in the sense that they have selective hearing. They already know the expectations of the program. I prefer to spread out meetings with players throughout the offseason as I see the motivational levels and attitudes. We’ll give every kid a fresh slate when we restart the race card. You’re better served to meet them at their motivational levels.”

Don’t rush, allow time to recharge.

“I used to try to do it all in a month. All of the sudden, I felt like I hadn’t had a chance to rejuvenate. Spread things out. If you have good people surrounding you, you won’t need to do it all at once.”

The Bruce Rollinson Profile

Team: Mater Dei (Calif.)

Tenure: 30 seasons as head coach

Career record: 299-85-2

CIF Southern Section titles: 7

National championships: 2017, 2018

Honors: 2017 National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year, 2017 ALL-USA Coach of the Year

Playing career: Played football and ran track at Mater Dei and was a defensive back for USC

Family: Wife, Laurie; daughters, Carolina Rollinson Flanagan and Catherine Rollinson Pederson; one grandson, Matthew Flanagan