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WIN YOUR HOME GAME: How Coaches Stay Connected With Their Football Teams in the Age of COVID-19, with Xenith x IMGA

Football teams across the country and the world are battling isolation and trying to remain prepared for the upcoming season in an unprecedented time in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xenith CEO Ryan Sullivan spoke with IMG Academy coaches Bobby Acosta and George Hegamin to discuss best practices in how to navigate these unique circumstances.

Below you will find key takeaways and tips from Coach Acosta and Coach Hegamin, or you can download them HERE.


WIN YOUR HOME GAME: How Coaches Stay Connected With Their Football Teams in the Age of COVID-19

KEY TAKEAWAYS From IMG Academy Head Coach, Bobby Acosta, and O-Line Coach, George Hegamin

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Talk to your players about more than just football. Focus on leadership, life skills, and academics.

- All of these skills translate to the game and help your athletes play a more instinctive game of football

Establish a cadence with your team.

- Cadence is key. Your team should understand your expectations and know what comes next.

Learning occurs through feedback.

- This applies to both coaches and athletes. Provide a platform for feedback, get involved in discussions and discourse with your athletes, talk things through.

Show the team how much you care about them every single day, even though you’re not in front of them.

- Providing a cadence and being a reliable role model for your athletes shows them that you care; this is what allows athletes to be vulnerable and trusting and ultimately give their all.

Find outside voices in your community that can share a message with or challenge your team.

- If you are looking for ways to keep your team motivated during isolation, engage leaders in your community to speak to your team like football alumni from your program, local business leaders, or university or next level of play athletes or coaches in your area

Get a football alumnus or local business leader to film a video for your team that you can share.

Keeping it competitive keeps your head in the game.

- Even in a remote environment, keep up a certain level of competition. Training loses some of its edge without the feeling of competition so find ways to recreate that remotely.

     - Over video so the team can see each other

     - With games that keep a friendly level of competition front and center

Take it back to the basics and progressively add elements to your drills.

- Use this time to perfect the basics and add elements progressively as you go. This also helps ensure safety while your athletes are training on their own.

All drills should be a game speed. If it doesn’t connect back to the game, it’s a waste of time.

- Everything should ladder back up to THE GAME. Make sure athletes don’t just understand how to do the drills, but how they apply to a game time situation.

Visualize. Play that game in your head before you hit the field on Friday nights.

- By the time your athletes hit the field, they can feel mentally that they have played that game several times already. Visualization is a muscle to strengthen just like any other.


Inspire friendly competition by using 52 Cards drills – assign an exercise or drill to every card in the deck and pull cards. This can be done live in a group video forum where athletes complete the drills in real time on camera, or athletes can send back videos of themselves completing the drills. Post completion times and records set to motivate your team to give their all from home.



Individualized attention is important, especially in a virtual environment.

- For athletes to have the confidence to develop as leaders, they need to know you see them. 


Leadership is a skill that must be developed.

- Demonstrate leadership to teach leadership

- Provide opportunities for leaders on your team to step up

Challenge your staff to rethink their leadership

- Break down your behavior to build stronger relationships for your team.

Develop athletes who will change their next locker room for the better. Leave a legacy.

- The best teams have the best locker rooms. Develop athletes who bring positivity, motivation, and leadership.

Identify members of your team who are looking for leadership opportunities and give them a unique task to foster their skills. Have them create or identify a team bonding or motivation activity and lead the activity over video chat, put together drills and lead a practice, or work on a weekly team update that can keep everyone up to speed and in sync.

Your “Why” shouldn’t change during challenging times. Bring your players back to the basics.

- Remembering your “why” – why you love the game, why you started playing, why you work hard every day – is something that should remain consistent even in trying times. Remind your athletes of their “why” to regain focus and spark motivation.

Have your athletes dictate the core values and show them how to live them every day, even from a distance.

- Rather than telling your team what your values are, have them determine these values. This creates buy-in from your team and helps foster a team mentality around what really matters.

Focus on what you can control.

- In the game and in life – focusing on what you control allows you to approach challenges in an intuitive and constructive way and to always seek out solutions.


Have each of your players write down their WHY. With the players’ permission, share their WHY’s with the team. This gives teammates with the same WHY a reason to bond, and also fosters deep conversation beyond just the game. 



- More Than a Game

- Drills and Training

- Developing Leaders

- Back to Basics


Get in contact with your local Xenith sales representative here.  

For more information about the IMG Academy Football Program, click here

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