Even coaches don't know everything, and that's why over 1,200 high school and youth coaches in South Florida came together at the Don Taft University Center Arena at Nova Southeastern University for the first night of a four night event: to learn from coaches who coach at the highest possible level.
The 2015 Miami Dolphins coaching clinic is the first of what the organization hopes will be many more in years to come, as the entire Miami Dolphins coaching staff will be on hand these four nights to pass on their knowledge to local coaches who are looking to improve the way they coach their players.
On Monday night, the targeted positions were the defensive line and the wide receivers, led by position coaches Terrell Williams, the newest member of the Dolphins coaching staff, and Phil McGeoghan, who was been with the team since 2012. They had a session where they reviewed film from Dolphins practices and games in order to demonstrate teaching styles and philosophies, followed by a short demonstration of on-field drills.
Before that however, head coach Joe Philbin addressed all the coaches in participation Monday night, and gave a small summary of what it means to be a great coach. He stated in his speech that if there's one strength he would attribute to himself, it's his ability to be a teacher, which is well-founded, since there have been several players who have developed into very good players since his arrival in Miami.
Philbin also stated how much he enjoys the new opportunity to be able to stand in front of several other coaches and pass on what he's learned over his 23 years as a coach in the NFL.
“I guess the older you get in the profession, you think back to the times when you were a young coach and you visited different colleges, different pro teams and you think about the coaches that spent time with you to teach you and help you develop as a coach,” Philbin said after his speech. “So when you have the opportunity to do that for somebody else, it’s rewarding.”
The opportunity for this chance at personal fulfillment comes thanks to the suggestion of Dolphins Senior Director of Community Affairs Twan Russell, who spent seven years playing in the NFL, three of them with the Miami Dolphins.
“I had the opportunity to tell Coach Philbin about the idea. Right when I said it, he said, you know what, figure it out. Coach Philbin’s vision, really, he wanted to do it bigger. He wanted to do it where we don’t turn down coaches, everyone can come and we can teach the game. Not just a cookie-cutter event, but where our coaches can be intimately involved."
And so the clinic was born, and the most important thing that the Dolphins coaching staff is hoping to get across to the participating coaches is the importance of knowing how to teach the real fundamentals of football.
“Fundamentals is the big thing,” Philbin said. “Everybody has their system and their scheme, and there’s a lot of smart coaches. I don’t care what level of football you’re talking about, there’s a lot of smart coaches everywhere. Obviously we’ll get some plays and schemes up there, too, but most important is how we teach some of the basic fundamentals. With young players, you’re obviously concerned, as we are with NFL players, about teaching the game safely.”
Safety was a common theme for the motivational reasons for doing this event, as everyone spoke on how teaching football properly would make this inherently violent game of football that much safer.
"Now when they [the coaches] speak to a young man, why do they need to learn this information, well, tonight we're gonna tell them why they need to learn this information and how to instruct their athletes." said Russell, "I think the game becomes safer, the game becomes better, it's the greatest team sport in the world."
Russell also went on to say how he felt that no matter what level of football a coach is coaching, the things that need to be taught to the athletes is basically the same...as in, what needs to be taught is the basics, a sentiment shared by his fellow Dolphins alumni Troy Drayton, who works for the organization as the Manager for Youth and Community Affairs.
"I think there's a fundamental difference in the way coaches teach," Drayton said when asked if there was a difference in the way coaches of younger athletes and coaches of older ones teach, "But I think if you're teaching the basics all the time, those things never change ... you can never overcoach the basics, because no matter if you get out of position, no matter if you false step or whatever the case may be, those basics will help you get back to the proper position for you to make a play."
For the next three days, the coaches clinic will continue starting Tuesday, where the linebacker and quarterback coaches will take their turn, followed by the offensive line and defensive backs Wednesday, and running backs and tight ends Thursday, which also happens to be the day that coordinators Bill Lazor, Kevin Coyle, and Darren Rizzi will address the coaches on their respective positions.
Needless to say, the coaches in attendance were very appreciative for this chance to expand their knowledge beyond their current capabilities, as Parris Richmond, coach for the Miami Gardens Ravens of the Florida Youth Football League, was quite adamant about.
"It means a lot to us because as a coach you're always willing to learn. So any time a professional comes to the lower guys and teaches us to bring our game better, it's a great help."
The best part about this event is this: if you're a coach, and you think you missed the boat on signing up for this fascinating clinic...think again, because there's still room on the boat for more coaches willing to learn from coaches on the highest level of football. All you have to do is go to dolphinsacademy.com to register your name among those 1,200 coaches who have already signed up.
And the learning doesn't stop after the clinic is over. Joe Philbin made it a point to tell every coach in attendance that they were more than welcome to stop by any time to watch the Dolphins practice.
“We’re always here to help,” Philbin said. “You’re welcome. You’re coaching football in South Florida and you’re making a difference in the lives of the young people. It’s important."
This idea had been in development since last autumn, and now that it's finally come to fruition, it stands to be beneficial for a lot of people. The coaches doing the learning, the coaches doing the teaching...but most importantly of all, the ones who stand to benefit the most are the young athletes that these coaches coach. Once this week is over, these coaches will go back to their athletes with brand new things to teach them, and will have the capability to better mold the NFL stars of tomorrow.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Latest Dolphins News