As a football coach, each season throws enough Xs, Os, position battles, tough opponents, and hard decisions at you to keep you busy 25 hours a day. Time for planning road trips? Please! You’d better take care of most of that stuff before the season even begins, and streamline it well enough that during the season travel planning doesn’t get in the way of your duties as head coach. If you’re the team manager or travel coordinator, you want to stay as organized as possible so that your head coach is aware of what’s going on, but can lean on you to get things done.
Start with a number. How many people are you transporting? Count up players, coaches, coordinators, trainers, and anyone else that will be travelling with you. Now, take that number and divide it by the number of seats on your school or coach bus to determine the number of buses you need to get your team on the road. Not sure which bus works best for your group? Consult our Quick Guide to Choosing a Bus Type. Our easy-to-read infographic will help you make your decision based on length of trip, group needs, and more.
Before your trip, pull your team leaders together to take inventory of your locker room. How much equipment do you need to bring with you to the away game or tournament? After all, you’ll need to bring all your game day equipment on the road, and may need some extra practice equipment depending on the visiting field you’ll be playing at.
Here’s a quick checklist you and your assistant coaches can use to keep track of your equipment and make sure it all finds its way onto the bus. Need help packing? Consult our Packing Guide for handy tips!
Game Equipment & Footwear
- Game and practice pants
- Game and practice jersey
- Pre- and post-game t-shirts and hoodies
- Receiver gloves
- Skull caps
- Shoulder pads
- Back plates & rib protection
- Athletic cups
- Neck rolls
- Hip & tail pads
- Chin straps
- Eye black
- Hand warmers
- Water bottles
- First-aid kit
- Energy drinks
For a faraway game, you may want to consider staying overnight to avoid a long drive pre- or post-game. If you stay the night prior to the game, you can ensure the players are in bed at a reasonable hour and won’t have to deal with the challenge of loosening up for a game following a long bus ride. Staying in a local hotel or Airbnb the night of the game alleviates the stress of rushing from the field to the bus and the possibility of getting home super late. Plus, staying overnight gives you the chance to celebrate that big win!
The best way to keep the team together overnight is by booking a hotel room block: a designated number of rooms reserved for your squad in one area of a hotel. Sports teams can be a handful for a hotel, so we’ll give you a few chains that, in our experience, are sports team-friendly. Holiday Inn Express tends to provide a discount for teams, and they have a Parents’ Lounge if they’re coming along. La Quinta is a sleeker alternative, but its bread and butter is large groups — read: football teams. Best Western is also known for sponsoring sports teams, plus free Wifi for game planning and free breakfast for your players’ large appetites.
Planned pit stops
Depending on how far your away game is, you’ll want to take into account how many pit stops you’ll have to make to let your team stretch their restless legs. Incorporate rest stops into your ETA. You can use this time to preach some good habits for your players. Lead a brief yoga or stretching session outside the bus. Create a mini scavenger hunt around your stop and break the players into teams. Or let the players do their own thing — but enforce a set departure time so that you can stick to your schedule.
Get some sight-seeing in
Depending on the location of your away game, plan some fun activities away from the field.
New York City
Football stadiums in NYC
It’s about a 30-minute drive from Manhattan to the Meadowlands, where the NFL’s Jets and Giants share MetLife Stadium.
Football stadiums in LA
Just south of downtown, the iconic LA Memorial Coliseum still hosts the USC Trojans football team. Further south in Inglewood, the much-anticipated and recently named SoFi Stadium will open in the summer of 2020 to host the NFL’s Rams and Chargers.
Indulge in the glamour of South Beach or the exotic Everglades when in Miami. Take your pick.
Football stadiums in Miami
The Dolphins play at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, as do the college Miami Hurricanes.
Football stadiums in San Francisco
The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers actually play much closer to San Jose, at Levi’s Stadium. For coaches that grew up watching games at Candlestick Park, that site is in Bayview Heights, just south of the city center.
Football stadiums in Montreal
Montreal has never had an NFL team, but it still has a pretty cool football stadium. While you’re on the iconic Mount Royal, pop over to Percival Molson Stadium, home to the Canadian Football League’s Alouettes and the university McGill Redmen, with both city and mountain views for spectators.
Football stadiums in Toronto
The CFL’s Argonauts play at BMO Field, just off the waterfront Lake Shore Boulevard. A few steps to the east, the multipurpose Rogers Centre normally hosts baseball, but has held four Grey Cups and five Buffalo Bills home games.