Kliff Kingsbury believes he’ll have to make some adjustments coaching in the NFL compared to what he did in college, but other things he figures to keep the same.
One of those will be what the Cardinals coach termed “cell phone breaks,” in an effort to slice up what can be long, tedious meetings into 20- or 30-minute chunks so that the players can remained locked in to all the information that must be absorbed.
“I think coming from the college ranks, to obviously, those young men, it’s gotta be quick hitters, 20 minutes at a time, give them a break and get them back in,” Kingsbury said. “We want to make sure that when we have them, they’re focused and they’re locked in, and we’re maximizing their time. So, if we’ve got to split it up or have shorter meetings, that’s what we do.”
Kingsbury referenced the phone because, like society at large, the locker room often has guys wanting to check their phones for various reasons. For the players that Kingsbury is about to begin coaching when voluntary strength and conditioning work begins April 8, taking a break makes sense.
“I’ve had coaches that have given breaks,” running back D.J. Foster said. “What guys do with that break is on them. Whether it’s go to the bathroom or be on your cell phone, I mean, everyone is a grown man around here.
“Every coach has their own style, and it’s on the players to adapt. Whether it is the head coach or the coordinator or your position coach, everyone runs their meeting differently.”
Kingsbury did say social media plays a role.
“You start to see kind of hands twitching and legs shaking and you know they need to get that social media fix, so we’ll let ’em hop over there and then get back in the meeting and refocus,” Kingsbury said.
It isn’t a unique concept – the 49ers did the same thing in 2015, allowing for player breaks during meetings to attend to a phone or whatever they might want to do.
“I feel like that’s pretty normal,” center Mason Cole said. “People have families and stuff, it’s good to give those guys time to check their phone, if their wife is calling. Guys need it too. Meetings can get long and overdone. Breaks help.”
Length of meetings depend on the coach, the time of year and what is trying to be accomplished, but some are two-hour marathons, especially in training camp situations.
“Sometimes it’s good to get up and walk around, move a little bit,” Foster said.
The idea is that once in the meeting, the players will give their full attention to whatever is being taught. That’s Kingsbury’s intent, and that, both Foster and Cole acknowledged, is most important.
“If you’re not used to being in meetings,” Cole said, “then maybe this isn’t the profession for you.”