How Delegating Coaching Duties Took One High School from Good to Great

One adjust­ment can give your coor­di­na­tors more respon­si­bil­i­ty and your­self more time.

How Delegating Coaching Duties Took One High School from Good to Great

One adjust­ment can give your coor­di­na­tors more respon­si­bil­i­ty and your­self more time.

Newark Valley High School (NY) was very suc­cess­ful in Brian Sherwood’s first three sea­sons at the helm. The Cardinals went a com­bined 21 – 8 in that span and made the Class C play­offs each sea­son, estab­lish­ing a lev­el of win­ning most coach­es would be con­tent with.

But Sherwood thought his team could take anoth­er step. So for the first time in his career as a head coach, he relin­quished his duties as defen­sive coor­di­na­tor and tru­ly took the reins of the entire team. The think­ing behind the move — dur­ing games, Sherwood pre­vi­ous­ly met with the defense while his offense was on the field. Switching things up would allow him to watch both units and have a bet­ter pulse of his team as a whole.

It cer­tain­ly looks like a genius move now. The Cardinals went 13 – 0, tak­ing home the Class C State title, and Sherwood was named the Elite 24 Coach of the Year. Newark Valley bull­dozed over the oppo­si­tion, win­ning by an aver­age of 32.8 points per game.

It was dif­fer­ent for me, but it also helped in the game plan­ning week to week,” Sherwood said. It made those two (coor­di­na­tors) more cru­cial in their own game-plan­ning and put me on both sides of the ball instead of just the defense. It put me more in touch with both sides of the ball. 

You only have so much time dur­ing the week and, when you’re a coor­di­na­tor, you’re spend­ing your time on that side. I think we were more effi­cient in plan­ning and find­ing ten­den­cies with me work­ing on both sides.”

The deci­sion was final­ized after Newark Valley’s first scrim­mage, which dou­bled as the staff’s intro­duc­tion to Hudl Sideline. The tech­nol­o­gy deliv­ered instant replay to the coach­es’ iPads in mere sec­onds, allow­ing for more teach­ing moments between drives.

Sherwood didn’t want to have his head buried in a tablet dur­ing his offense’s dri­ves. It was time to tru­ly take con­trol of the team.

It wouldn’t have been effec­tive if I would’ve con­tin­ued to be a coor­di­na­tor because I couldn’t have sat on the bench, get out of the flow of the game and make all the deci­sions a head coach has to make dur­ing the game,” Sherwood said. We made adjust­ments each series ver­sus mak­ing minor adjust­ments at halftime.

After the games we were nev­er dis­ap­point­ed that we didn’t see something.” Brian Sherwood, head coach at Newark Valley High School

Before using replay, the coach­es gained some insights from watch­ing the games on the side­lines, but they also had to rely heav­i­ly on the play­ers for infor­ma­tion on what was hap­pen­ing on the field. That info var­ied in reliability.

Sideline removed those ques­tion­able reports and gave the coach­es exact­ly what they need­ed to see in real time.

You had to teach kids how to relay infor­ma­tion to you, and our kids are real­ly good at that, but instead of them hav­ing to come out and tell you, you can see it,” Sherwood said. The kids a lot of times don’t know the answers. It just went right to upstairs, which got the video down to us of what the oppo­si­tion was lined up in.”

And any dis­agree­ments between the coach­es’ per­spec­tive and what the play­ers thought was hap­pen­ing vanished.

When they see it with their own eyes, it’s their own per­spec­tive,” Sherwood said. They don’t get defen­sive at all because it’s there and they can see it. They can learn from it.”

Sherwood made a bold move in 2016 and he miss­es his coor­di­na­tor duties some­times. But he will­ing­ly would give them up for the hard­ware now sit­ting in Newark Valley’s tro­phy case.