Spring - a time to hone and share

Spring football is particularly important for developing younger players and for sharpening the skills of veterans. With plenty of live blocking and tackling or hitting, there are also usually three full-scale scrimmages. These are used both for team development as well as player evaluation. Some schools actually use one week of spring to prepare for their season opening opponent. It is different at almost every school.

In fact, many schools have already completed their spring training in the month of March.

This month was always used in the past as a spring visit time when our coaches would travel to other schools to see how they did things both on an off the field. These spring trips were valuable and were excellent times to compare notes, and to network within the profession.

Unfortunately, these spring trips have been eliminated as a cost cutting measure. I really think you can grow and develop by seeing how someone else coaches your position. How someone else plans their practices from their drills and skills to the actual teaching and instruction. It was always beneficial to spend a week on another campus and just share in the sport of football. I was fortunate to have visited many great football schools like Alabama (twice), Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Boston College, Florida State, Kansas State, Syracuse and even North Carolina (because they had an excellent kicking team).

Additionally, we would have many schools come and visit us to learn about the attack defense of Coach Lambright, or the organizational prowess of Coach James, or compare offensive philosophies with Gilby. Whatever the reason may have been, there always was a warm and friendly exchange of ideas and information and it usually involved hospitality by the hosting school. Obviously you never visited anyone in your own conference or anyone you would be playing, but the camaraderie of the profession was good and the idea of just seeing how others did the same thing was well worth the travel. I think it is a shame that this has been eliminated because whenever you think you have all the answers, that is precisely when you get your ass whooped.

Besides, when some other Husky spring sports travel all the time, how does putting your coaches on the road for educational purposes break the bank? Especially when the bank's deposits are all from the football program.

We always tried to pick schools that ran similar offenses or defenses that we did, and if they were already involved in spring football, that made it even better. To sit in on their meetings, attend their practices, talk with their recruiting coordinator, as well as spending quality time with heat coaches like a Gene Stallings or a Mac Brown were experiences which greatly enriched my own development as a coach. We would always come back with something new and watching others in spring always fired us up to get going with our own kids.

Very few people actually invent anything original and bring it to the game, so what it boils down to is how well you play the cards you have. I enjoyed getting other points of view that we picked up on the road.

Well, it's just about time to strap on the helmet and pads and start popping. I can't wait.
Dawgman.com columnist and KJR 950 Sports Radio personality, Dick Baird.
Dick Baird was an Assistant Coach (Linebackers) and Recruiting Coordinator at the UW from 1985-1998. He has joined the Dawgman.com staff as a featured columnist for both the web site and Sports Washington magazine. In addition to his regular editorial columns, Coach Baird will try to provide some of his unique perspective by answering a few of your selected questions online. If you would like to send in your questions, please CLICK HERE.

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