My start at the Olympians 

I was having dinner at home with my wife on a Saturday evening when my phone starts to ting. My immediate concern is to silence the ting as I know it upsets my dog. I look at the message and to cut a long story short it’s Ivo from the O’s gauging my interest on if I’d like to meet with Coach Riq to talk about joining the O’s about joining as the OC.

It was flattering to get the interest from the club but Amanda (my other half) and I had made plans for the summer which revolved around just having “football free weekends” and The Great Britain Lions are hosting the Group B tournament which means practice planning and lots of practice film review. After taking it through and then meeting with Coach Riq, and thinking about why I left the Blitz I decided to take the position of OC at the London Olympians.

I took the offer to join in the middle of February but Amanda and I already had commitments in the diary which meant I didn’t join the team until the start of March. Some questions that have come up since I’ve started coaching at the O’s:

What’s the right playbook?

One of my longest held beliefs as a coach is that it’s not about doing one thing a hundred percent better than the player / team you are playing against but rather doing a hundred things one percent better.

I had to start designing a playbook that matched the players skills and abilities with my own coaching ethos which is a tough starting place when you know nothing about the team you are going to. I didn’t have the luxury of going to a couple of practices and observing players, every other team had been practicing since January and every missed week brought us closer to the start of the season.

I settled on three plays that covered what I would need to get a feel for OL ability to make and hold blocks, WR to run routes, catch and stalk block and last but not least the QB to read defences then make the right throws. At the end of the first practice I had a fairly good idea of what our playbook for this year should look and feel like.

How do I get the players ready to compete?

Don’t assume any thing. If an install wasn’t successful, I’m not rushing ahead onto the next weeks install, I’m looking at film talking to my coaches and senior players and working out what works best for my players. As a coach I have to check my ego at the door and have a 100 different way of saying the same thing.

Thoughts and observations from film and training

Who’s on my Staff?

I have a young fresh staff but they are packed with potential. The O’s staff consists of:

Talla N’diaye – WR Coach. As a player won multiple national championships & EFAF cup with the Blitz and has played for some of the top French teams. Talla brings a real focus on footwork and technique. As a PT he also gives the players great advice on strength and conditioning.

Aaron Griffiths – QB Coach He was the leading passer for the O’s since our entry back into the league.Has an amazing focus on getting the QB’s ready to play. Has the potential to be one of the best QB coaches I’ve worked with.

Martynas Juras & Leroy Owusu-Addae – OL Coaches Both these guys are new to coaching and are softly spoken but their actions do their speaking. Constantly working with their guys and full of enthuasism.

 Khlil Ullah – RB Coach- A long serving coach at the O’s and has seen every situation that football has to offer.
As I mentioned at the start, this is a young group of coaches who can and will get better. As an OC its my responsibility to work and develop this group. Its a chicken and egg situation, as they make the players better they will have to improve and get better as well.
And in just under 700 words that’s a brief introduction to my first couple of months a the O’s. The first game is in a few hours so check back soon (ish) for more updates.

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