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Strong Football by Coach CP

Strong Football by Coach CP: November 2010

This page has moved to a new address.

Strong Football by Coach CP

Strong Football by Coach CP: November 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Coaching Philosophy: You Need One

I've talked to numerous coaches, and so many seem lost. I think the big problem with many coaches is they lack direction. They lack an ultimate purpose that drives all their teaching on the football field. Every coach, despite how silly and childish it sounds, needs a coaching philosophy.

Let's be clear, I'm not talking about X's and O's, or what offense or defense you want to run when you're in charge. Oh no. I may be only 23 years old, but I recognize the need for a coaching philosophy. When I get away from it, I find myself not satisfied with the teaching I've done with the players on the field.

Step One: What is your philosophy on life?

So how do you build your own philosophy? I think the first step is to recognize what drives you in life. Be honest with yourself. As a man (or woman), you should recognize what your philosophy is throughout life. Examine your life. What code have you lived by? Correction: What code have you lived by when you have been most satisfied with life. Seriously, be honest. It's perfectly fine to be selfish. Some people want to beat the competition, or enjoy the moment. That is fine. Just adhere to that.

Step Two: Coaching Philosophy

Now, second step, look at what you want to be as a coach and examine how satisfied with your coaching career so far. Are you satisfied? If not, you probably haven't adhered to your life philosophy in coaching. I bet you they are very similar when you are completely satisfied, or at least they are founded upon similar principles.

My Life Philosophy

For me, I can tell you my life philosophy. A successful man is built on a foundation of integrity, gentlemanly behavior, a strong mind, responsible citizenry, and leadership by example or oratory. A man that is firm in these principles will experience life to the fullest, while at the same time being triumphant in all that he does. That's my philosophy. Believe it or not, I can probably nearly quote that on command.

My Coaching Philosophy

But what about my coaching philosophy? I honestly feel that I want to help every athlete and coach around me grow as a person, a student, and as a team. I will do this by being consistent and fair while demanding hard work, discipline, and fun. This philosophy isn't built just upon players. Notice how I say athlete and coach. I want to help my fellow coaches grow, not only as people and as teammates, but as students. The relationships I build with players and fellow coaches mean a great deal to me, so both are included. In addition, I feel everyone, especially myself, is a student. I try to soak in everything. I'm terrible at judging, however, I've done my best to try to understand people's perspectives and respect their opinions. So I am constantly a student, learning from every coach I have come across, even if their experience is limited or they are an "old timer" so to speak. You can learn something from everyone.

Concluding Remarks on Coaching Philosophies

That is my life and coaching philosophy. I challenge you to find your own. Don't create it, don't memorize it. Find it. It is within you. Just be honest about it, especially with youself. It really coach be anything. Once you establish it, you will find you will be much more successful, and much more satisfied with your coaching career and your life.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why You Should Understand Football Offense and Defense

Understanding Offensive and Defensive Football

Would you try to cut the wire on a ticking time bomb if you didn't have a general understanding on how it worked?

Let me start by saying I just received my copy of Developing a Defensive Gameplan by Kenny Ratledge.  This is a very detailed book, and the very first thing I noticed about this was that over half of this book was dedicated to understanding offense.

That inspired this post.  I've run into a problem with some coaches recently, and I hope its not a trend.  Offensive coaches don't want to really learn defense, and defensive coaches don't want to learn offense.  This is very disturbing to me. I love both sides of the ball.  I've been born and raised as an offensive coach (I played offensive line, I've coached offensive line and runningbacks).  However, I've also coached linebackers and defensive line in my short coaching career.  I truly love both sides of the football. 

The Problem - Football Coaches Don't Respect The Other Side

However, more and more coaches seem so interested in their side of the ball, it's disgusting.  These aren't simply young coaches, they are experienced coaches too!  On top of that, some have been very successful at the high school level, and some have done very poorly.  As I mentioned in my film analysis posts where I look into both Defensive Game Film Analysis and Offensive Game Film Analysis, a coach must thoroughly understand both themselves and their opponent.  Only then can you put together a sound game plan and really understand what the tape is showing you. 

Even if I was simply an offensive line coach, I would still have purchased several books.  I own a book one the basics of almost every defense imaginable, the over, the under, the 30 stack (multiple books on this since it's a pain in the butt to block), the eagle, the 46.  I've read books by Arnsparger,Vanderlinden and Fritz Shurmur. I truly try to understand play calling philosophies, run fronts, secondary run support, and what defensive coaches love about their defense.  On Coach Huey's Football Forum, which I highly recommend, I constantly read the defensive thread.  I want to understand all the nooks and crannies so I can exploit them. 

How Football Basics and Fundamentals Play In

Teaching Young Coaches

I understand that most young coaches make a crucial mistake in their early years.  They learn the X's and O's, and forget the fundamentals.  I humbly disagree and offer this ammendment.  Most young coaches learn the side of the football they played in and know it well from their position's perspective.   Why? Because they are comfortable and confident.  Instead, experienced coaches should encourage these kids to simply learn the fundamentals from a position on the other side of the football.  This will accomplish a few things, it will make a young overconfident coach shut his trap as he learns the other side of the ball.  On the other hand, it will also encourage that young coach to understand this completely different perspective.  Suddenly, his eyes will open up.  This will breed success in your program as you develop coaches.  Take that with a grain a salt of coarse, as I am not a head coach, however, I strongly believe in this philosophy.

Perhaps hidden in the concept of moving a young coach to the other side of the ball is the fact that he will need to learn the fundamentals of that position.  By doing that, it will take him to back to basics approach.  Suddenly, he won't have all the answers and can't use all the drills he learned when he played.  He now has to rely on older, more experienced coaches or other resources in order to accomplish his daily tasks with his position group.  This will take away time where he will be drawing x's and o's or looking for the latest and greatest play in a book.

Helping Experienced Coaches

By understanding the other side of the ball, you can put your kids in the best position to succeed as you break down film and on game day.  As an offensive line coach, I try to obviously watch the blocking but also who makes the tackle.  If I understand the defense in it's fundamental form, I can figure out what their game plan is or what their kids are taught, and I can defeat that scheme and put our athletes in the best position to win.  For instance, if the safety on the backside of an Under front is making a whole lot of plays as we cut back, then I know I need to get him out of the box.  I need to manipulate my formations or have the offensive co-ordinator adjust his play calling to accomplish this.  Maybe I go into a twins look to force the safety out of the box or run a drag route with the tight end where that safety used to be.

However, if I didn't understand the defense, I couldn't make these assumptions. I could make some assumptions about why he's making the tackle, but I could very well be wrong.  This could easily put our kids in a very poor position to be successful.

From a defensive coach's perspective, understanding offensive football is a must.  That is why over HALF of Kenny Ratledge and a great deal of other books and real defensive playbooks you may come across online are  focused on offense.   Giving the kids and your coaching staff common language for understanding formations, routes, philosophies, plays, and blocking schemes are critical for your success on the football field.   Spending the little bit of time to go over this is crucial for your success as a defensive coach.

Conclusion - Understanding the Whole Picture

By understanding the whole picture, you will become a better coach.  Not only will it help you understand how to put your kids in the best position to be successful, but it will help you become more well rounded.  If you hope to become a head coach some day, this is crucial as you develop your own personal philosophies on football.  In addition, even if you don't become a head coach, it will help you interact with coaches from the other side of the football.  Often times, they are your best tool to understanding that perspective of the game and many coaches fail to utilize their comrades from across the line of scrimage.

Essentially you need to make sure you understand if it's the blue wire or the red wire your going to cut before you disarm that bomb.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Analyzing Game Film from a Defensive Perspective

Overall, I feel looking at film from a defensive perspective takes considerable time and effort. Remember, this is probably for young coaches who have not learned how to watch film or analyze it. You head coaches or DC's out there probably know far more than this and have a style that works for you (that's why your in charge and I'm not!). So this is for those coaches who want some help in this field, and for whatever reason can't find it somewhere.

You need to first ask yourself when you pop in that film, where do I stop? There needs to be an end point somewhere. Or you'll watch film forever, rather than preparing from it.

The first year I was in charge of scouting offenses at the varsity level, I made sure I knew all their plays, when and where they liked to call them, and why they called such play.

It was worthless.

We couldn't stop anyone on defense, and I blame a lot of it on myself. When I look back on it, I would force myself to do the following things.

1) Prepare for their best plays, and their best plays alone
2) Don't be overly specific with tendencies, only chart run pass and then to the boundrary, middle, or field.
3) Understand who their top 2 playmakers are, and how they utilize those players and when.
4) Look for tells, but only the truly obvious ones. At the high school level, if you can barely notice a tell, the kids likely won't.
5) What do they do with motion? Usually, offenses are lazy with it and don't utilize that facet of their game well.
6) Understand the tendencies, but don't over analyze them. Their gameplan can be completely different for you and your strengths (or your weaknesses).

So, when I pop in the film the first time, I first ask myself, what is the offense trying to accomplish. Unlike offense, I watched the whole film one time through. Offensive gameplans usually aren't very reactive, even the "check with coach" style offenses. They use formations to get what they want, even if they say they're taking what the defense gives them. This is a matter of opinion, some coaches would argue the very opposite with me for quite a while. Make up your own mind in this regard.

When I watch the offense the whole time through, I try to figure out what their game plan was. What do they like to do? How do they utilize their playmakers? Do they get them in space? Do they have athletes and how do those athletes make plays? From the best coaches to the worst, almost every coach tries to give the playmaker the football. It's just a matter of how often and how they utlize other players to make that player stand out more. The next question I ask myself is if their is a method behind their madness. I feel a lot of average offensive cooridinator's don't understand the purpose behind their playcalling. They can get players in space and maybe out athlete you, but usually you can keep these coordinator's best player's relatively contained, even with somewhat worse athletes. If I feel the offensive coordinator will ignore options in other places and force the ball to his playmaker, I will be a little more aggressive in defending said player, and I may be willing to give up some plays on the other side of the field.

For instance, let's say they have a stud slot receiver/scat back type. He's shifty with good ball carrier vision. If the o-coordinator forces the ball to that player, no matter what his position, I will adjust my defense to defend said player. Once the o-coordinator proves to me that he can adjust, I will adjust more evenly.

If the o-coordinator shows me this on film, then I need to be more careful and spread my defense a little thinner across the field. The better o-coordinator's utilize their system wisely. If I take something away, they should grab somewhere else. So, when watching film, I look for this. Does the offensive cooridantor attack the weaknesses of a defense? And when that defense adjusts, does he find the next weakness? Does he like to wait on this, or does he pounce on it right away?

So these are the things I'm thinking about the first time I pop in the film.

The second time I look at the film I try to break it down. This is where I fell apart the first time through. Understand that so many factors can effect playcalling. There are simply too many variables, and I cannot definitevely say that these tendencies will hold true unless I've versed this offensive coordinator several times already in the past and he's a stickler.

So how do I break down film? I right down their the yard line, down and distance,hash, formation, and play, and result. I may keep notes on who gets the ball if they really force it to their playmaker, so that way I can see if they'll at least spread the wealth.

Now, that's a lot of information to keep. Too bad most of it is worthless. But it's worth doing because you need all of this information for different areas. Just don't use it all for tendencies.

I write down the specific play because I need to use this for the scout team. I simply tally up the number of times plays are ran, keeping in mind game conditions (score, yardline, ect) and try to put together their best plays. These will be prevented to the scout team offense and used in our defensive gameplan (top plays to stop by formation). I track the formation to see what their favorite plays are out of those formations. I also tally the top plays out of these formations. A lot of play callers simply use formations and plays together, not as seperate entities, which they should be. If they make this fatal mistake, we can be in a safe defense for pretty much everything based on formation.

The only thing I really use for tendencies then, is the down and distance and whether it was a run or pass and what part of the field it went to. Anything more than that (specific plays, ect...) will be statistically insiginficant (meaning the margin of error is too high). Even the way I do it will likely be statistically insignificant. However, the margin of error, nonetheless, will be much less.

I may also look at the hashes from a purely directional stand point if I feel the OC over utlizes this. Do they only like to run to the right side? Once their on the right hash, will they simply run a sweep so they can run to the right side some more? They will probably run inside too so they can keep going that way, in order to stay away from the 12th defender (that pesky sideline).

From here, I watch the film some more. I again ask myself, what is the OC trying to do? Is he force feeding the ball into his RB or QB's hands? Is he trying to play games with my outside linebackers by tying a run play with a bubble screen? Does he want to force me to cover all of his wide receivers? Or does he want to pound the rock until we fall asleep so he can throw it deep?

I feel if I answer it the same way again, I know the offensive cooridinator. If I am still struggling, I will watch the film again.

Overall, don't get bogged down in the statistics. Take away what they do best and the most often. Force them to be uncomfortable.

The most important rules I'd say for implementing your analysis...

1) Don't throw away your defense for a "good" offense. Adapt your defense and put them in positions to succeed. Do NOT change your defense every week. Prepare for it in summer camp and have an answer then. This means making scouting reports based off of last years film in the off-season.

2) Be confident in yourself and your opponent's abilities. Maybe they do force feed the ball to the runningback. But that's probably because he's really flipping good. So understand it's okay to overplay him a little bit.

3) Don't give the kids answers for everything, but do have them in your call sheet. If they surpisingly start running Gun QB Iso with their slow QB and they get 5 yards a crack, you better have some kind of A gap play that can take that away.

4) Don't focus on the statistics. They lie ... all the fricken time. Know what your opponent is trying to do, but don't buy into the numbers so much. It will eventually bite you.

5) Understand what they want to do. It's your best chance. If you take away their running game and they run Iso and Power all day, and you take that away, expect them to pass only so they can come back to running power and iso.

This has worked for me fairly well. I'm still learning, and I'd love to hear your tips.

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