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CoachDP
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This week (Mon.-Thur.) I am driving an hour away to a small town whose high school team runs the Double Wing.  Yesterday was their first day of spring practice and I spent time watching their offensive line and also watching their Backs.  (They were in different groups until the last part of practice when they were combined.)  I did not interact or interrupt as I watched.  I was simply a fly on the wall.  At one point during a water break, one of their players did approach me to introduce himself.  We spoke briefly, but only about what his plans were after graduating.  Driving home, which was an experience in itself as I was so far out in the boonies, I couldn't get internet/mapquest services; I had to call my SO and have her give me directions until I got close enough to civilization for my internet map to click back on.  When I got home, their header gave me a call to ask my input on what I saw.  We talked about a few things and he asked that when I returned today, to "jump in" a bit and interact with their coaches if I had questions/suggestions.  We'll see how it goes the rest of the week.  What was amazing was that this is a small 1A football program with 60 kids and 22 of them were in the o-line group.  My last year at MCHS (one of the ten largest schools in the state), we had 6 o-linemen out of more than 80 kids. 

Anyhoos, spending time with this team yesterday it started me thinking about the questions I get (through phone/text or in person), and I no sooner had arrived home when a coach sent me his last season of video wanting me to look it over...I think I've simplified what a great deal of the (on-field) problems are that coaches have in fielding a successful team.

Usually, the questions start with their scheme.  But after diagnosing what they do and how they do it, the greater and deeper problem lies in their fundamentals.  In other words, they want answers about what Xs and Os could be improved, yet their shotgun snaps go 10 yards over their QB's head, their o-line turns around and watches the play, their Punter kicks the ball straight into their protector's back, and their defenders try to arm tackle.  When the conversation turns to fundamentals, it is explained that their coach can't "find" anyone to deep snap well, can "find" anyone to pull, can't "find" anyone to tackle, etc.  It is as if the coach's job isn't to teach, but to point at different kids and pick them for jobs that they're somehow already supposed to know how to do.  When we cover the "fundamental" questions, it's revealed that the coach really has a hard time getting kids to give legitimate effort.  "Coach, they act like they just don't want to be here."  So then the problem has devolved into "the kids don't want to work hard."  Yet, what I see is kids who perform exactly at the level that they're demanded to work at.  They have lazy, distracted coaches whose hope is that experienced and developed football players will just automatically show up on their practice field.  These same coaches think that 2 hours of "busy work" in unorganized drills with little or no instruction or feedback (other than "good job," "attaboy," or "you gotta do better" is somehow productive).

For many years, I've taught and given clinics and answered questions about teaching aggression as a fundamental.  And yet, in its most distilled application, what we are really doing is simply teaching effort, as it is impossible to have great aggression without great effort.

Of course, there's the leadership/sales aspect:  If you don't garner respect from your players, if you don't know how to work the room, if you're constantly having to heard cats instead of knowing how to make them sit still, then it's obvious why you have a lousy result.  As a matter of fact, I'm a complete believer in the result can only be due to the quality that was put into it.

It's like being a good mechanic.  Do you know who doesn't complain about the reliability of their car?  The person who knows how to fix it themselves.  Who does complain?  The person who has to call a tow truck because they're stranded to take it to a garage for someone else to fix.  You need to be your own mechanic.  Instead of "This offense doesn't work," you must know how to fix it.  Instead of "This play doesn't work," you must know how to fix it.  Problem is, many coaches run plays without the understanding of what makes it work, just like many of us drive cars without understanding how to fix them.  And others may know how to get it running, but never learn how to operate it at its most efficient.

In the end, it comes down to three things: Effort/Fundamentals/Scheme.  If you can't coach your players to give good effort, you will always be vulnerable to the varying levels of effort that every team has when it's not taught and demanded consistently across the board.  Your teams will only be as good as the level of effort the players already bring with them.  Without great effort, your fundamentals and scheme will always be less than what they could.  Knowing which fundamentals to teach and the most efficient way to get them there are more important than scheme.  If you can block and tackle, regardless of what scheme you run you can be successful.  As for scheme, the scheme itself matters less.  How well the coach can teach the scheme matters more.  Unfortunately, many coaches think they need "plays," when a simple ISO, Wedge or Power that's run well can be virtually unstoppable.  And problem is, they don't know the MYRIAD of working parts that go into just making these "simple" plays work well.

--Dave

This topic was modified 1 month ago 2 times by CoachDP

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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J. Potter (seabass)
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 Problem is, many coaches run plays without the understanding of what makes it work

Amen Brother! Understanding what makes a play work at it's basic level is THE key but not always blatantly obvious to all of us. I spent 7 seasons coaching a zone blocking scheme and didn't really "get it" until last year.

Our run game coordinator gave me something early on last summer that connected ALL the dots for me in an instant. I have logged 1000's of hours on Hudl and not seen it for myself the way he saw it. We were watching film with our position group, this is what he said and showed us.

 "When we run mid zone (our "base" play), if all 5 of you (referring to our OL) have your pad's on the same angle by your second step, we are almost 100% positive on the play." He then showed us 10 mid zone clips in a row and paused the film at the second step. Our guy's got on the same angle on 6 out of the 10 clips and we got 6+ yards on all 6 of those clips. The other 4 were a mixed bag and only positive when the back did something special.

He then reminded the player's of the footwork (which they all knew) that get's them all on the same angle and we were off and running! 

From that point on I started looking and asking for THE key to every scheme we use.

 

 


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @seabass

Amen Brother! Understanding what makes a play work at it's basic level is THE key but not always blatantly obvious to all of us. I spent 7 seasons coaching a zone blocking scheme and didn't really "get it" until last year.

Josh, in the end, it comes down to coaches not recognizing what/where their problems are.  If they don't understand/diagnose the problem, then it will be impossible to fix it.  If a coach comes to me with a question as to why his Power isn't working, and I see that his linemen don't even fire off the line, or that the Center snap is poor, then the problem really isn't with Power or perhaps how he runs it, but in recognizing that his players aren't physical enough, or they use poor blocking technique, or that his Center snap is poor.  MOST of the time, I receive questions/concerns about scheme when fundamentals and effort is the problem.  

You mentioned looking for the "key."  You are spot on.  Every drill, fundamental and scheme has a key (and sometimes more than one).  If you don't know that key, then you are lost on how to make that drill, fundamental or scheme work.  Once I find a "key," it gets added to my "key ring" of all the bullet points to making the play better.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Bob Goodman
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Depending on the situation you come into, the players will be some mixture of good at/bad at particular skills.  It's not like you're going to find players with all the skills already, but looking for them is a good investment of time, to sort out those you'd be wasting your time on teaching them what they already know, and those you've freed up that time for to teach it to them.  A lot of the time, players who are new to you won't volunteer that they can already do X, and will smilingly go along to please you at what they're already several steps ahead on.  Coaches familiar with those players might not be able to tell you about them either, because those coaches are unfamiliar with what you want to do, the way you want to do it, or what you call what you want to do.


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @bob-goodman

It's not like you're going to find players with all the skills already, but looking for them is a good investment of time, to sort out those you'd be wasting your time on teaching them what they already know, and those you've freed up that time for to teach it to them. 

--Bob, my commentary was based on the number of coaches who say they can't "find" players who are already fundamentally sound.  Blocking, pulling, tackling or snapping the football is a teachable fundamental.  Yes, some players already do these better than others.  However, I don't lament the situation by saying I can't "find" anyone to (fill in the blank).  It's my responsibility to teach it.  For example...some years we weren't very good at kicking XPs.  Kicking the football is what I'd refer to as a basic fundamental.  The years we weren't as good at it was because I wasn't a good enough coach to be able to teach my kicker how to overcome his inconsistency.  A better coach would have been able to identify the problem in his technique and know the fix.  I was not.  However, I wasn't lamenting that I couldn't find a better kicker.  My job is to teach them.   I don't go looking for kids who already have acquired certain fundamentals.  I will teach the fundamentals. 

A lot of the time, players who are new to you won't volunteer that they can already do X

--Which is why I don't waste time asking them.  When I was coaching youth ball, every player was allowed to throw, catch, run, deep snap, punt and kick.  I didn't concern myself with what they (or their parents) told me (or didn't tell me) what they could do.  I don't just look at them and think "he looks like a lineman; he looks like a QB..."  It was one reason that I didn't have issues with parents, because every player was given the opportunity.  During Week 1, every kid had the opportunity to perform in each position-determining drill.  Late-comers were also given the same opportunity.

Coaches familiar with those players might not be able to tell you about them either, because those coaches are unfamiliar with what you want to do, the way you want to do it, or what you call what you want to do.

--I regarded their previous coaches' feedback about them with the same grain of salt that I reserved for parents.  Their advice has nothing to do with what I do, or with this year, or with my team.  I also told returning players that I didn't "know" them.  In other words, regardless of what position you played last year for me, or how much playing time you received, it has nothing to do with this year because I don't know you.  That was LAST year.  We're starting all over.  One player was an Offensive Tackle for me in his first year, and a Runningback for me in his second year.  (He's a QB in the USFL right now (Pittsburgh Maulers) and threw the game-winning TD pass on the game's final play this past Sunday.)

--Dave 

 

This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by CoachDP

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Prodigy
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It really boils down to chasing perfection. Being uncompromising in the work that needs to be done.  

 

It’s not a drill, it’s not a scheme.  It’s not even something that you can put into words to reach someone who doesn’t get it.  

If you show up for a fair fight, you are unprepared.


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coachgs
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Posted by: @coachdp

Anyhoos, spending time with this team yesterday it started me thinking about the questions I get (through phone/text or in person), and I no sooner had arrived home when a coach sent me his last season of video wanting me to look it over...I think I've simplified what a great deal of the (on-field) problems are that coaches have in fielding a successful team.

Glad to see you are still at it coach. The absolute most important thing I learned on this forum was effort. Your intensity drills like "fight club" are program changing. Like so many coaches on tis forum your work has had far reaching positive impact on young minds. God bless 

"Character is formed, not by laws, commands, and decrees, but by quiet influence, unconscious suggestion and personal guidance."
- Marion Burton -


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @coachgs Glad to see you are still at it coach. The absolute most important thing I learned on this forum was effort.

Thank you Coach.  Effort is a teachable fundamental.  You understand that.  Most don't and will argue that it's neither a fundamental nor can it be taught.  But without it, nothing else you teach as a coach will matter.  So many coaches merely accept whatever effort and intensity level their players bring and then complain about it, as if there's nothing that can be done.  

I appreciate your words.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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