WYC 035 Brian Brunkow from ZeroOffseason.com talks Football, Concussions, and Coaching kids with Divorced Parents

 What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Brian Brunkow shares stories and discusses his journey to becoming a successful youth sports coach.

Brian is the founder of ZeroOffseason.com, where he trains wide receivers and blogs about youth sports, concussions, recruiting, and many more topics.  Brian is a divorce attorney and financial planner.  His background in divorce law has given him a unique perspective on the importance of dealing with divorced parents when coaching young athletes.  Brian began coaching his Junior year of High School, and has been coaching football ever since.  He recently was added to the speaker bureau at Glazier Clinics and will be speaking at their Head Coach Academy this spring on “Recruiting Regulations Every High School Head Coach Must Know.”

Website: zerooffseason.com

Blog: zerooffseason.blogspot.com

Twitter: @ZeroOffseason

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Coaching/Leadership Quote

  • ‘We run a forward-looking operation’ – Chip Kelly after tough loss

My ‘Cringe’ Moment

  • Ego – Early on Brian ran a no-huddle offense just to get penalties on the defense – but in retrospect – what was he really accomplishing?
  • Priorities – Was he focused on winning, or developing ALL of the kids?
  • Leadership – It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and fail to communicate with your assistant coaches – prioritize over-communicating with your assistants

My ‘Ah-Ha’ Moment

  • Importance of communicating at the level they can understand – and keep the explanation short (under 10 seconds)

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

  • Cross-train kids on different positions within a sport – they learn the game much better
  • Explain the ‘Why’ – so they can truly learn the game
  • From post-game to Monday practice – have kids think of:
    • 1 thing they did well
    • 1 thing they want to improve on
    • 1 lesson they learned

Huge Idea #1

3 areas to have the kids focus:

  • 1 – set process oriented goals (setting mini-goals within the game)
  • 2 – get present (teach the kid the big red delete button)
  • 3 – control the controllables

Mental Peak Performance

Huge Idea #2

  • Play present – The delete button, and ‘put on the thought-brakes’
  • Visualization – 2 things:
    • 1 – Visualize the worst-case scenario – and realize that failure will not define you
    • 2 – Post-game – Parents/coaches – Don’t discuss suggested improvements for at least 24 hours after a game

Coaching Resources

  • Bookmark your state’s interscholastic site – free resources on safety, concussions, etc.
  • Peak Performance Sports‘ newsletter by Dr. Patrick Cohn – lots of mental tips
  • Ted Talks – Great talks, one on ‘grit’ is great
  • Your library

Concussion Safety


  • Don’t use conditioning as a punishment
  • 3 Types of mistakes:
    • 1 – Mental errors – Find a consequence that hits home with the athlete
    • 2 – Behavior errors – 3 strikes then you’re sitting out the rest of practice
    • 3 – Safety errors – get parents involved


  • Focus rewards on process more than outcomes
  • To inspire conditioning – when offense scores, offense gets to do 7 push-ups; when defense stops offense, defense gets to do 7 push-ups

Inspiring Story

  • Kid whose parents were going through tough divorce – Brian really poured into this kid and tried to make a difference in this young man’s life

The One that Got Away

  • In a game where they were heavily outmatched physically – Brian and his coaches spent halftime trying to figure out technical adjustments – he wished he had spent the time just teaching life lessons

Best Stolen/Borrowed Idea

  • Chip Kelly – after tough loss, talked about moving forward not looking back: ‘We run a forward-looking operation’

Coaching/Leadership Motivation

  • Quote: ‘Fall down 7, get up 8’
  • Book: ‘David and Goliath‘ – by Malcolm Gladwell – problem-solving creativity


  • Book, blog, coaching and parenting advice
  • Developing student athletes
  • Tips on coaching kids with divorced parents
  • Book on amazon: Zero Offseason

Parting Advice

  • ‘Don’t send a 10 year-old into early retirement’ – Make them love the game and love being on the team


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