COVID-19 has taken everybody by surprise. With schools closed across much of the United States, practice for spring sports have been cancelled and offseason regimens for all sports have been put on hold. This pandemic has left nearly 36 million youth athletes and their coaches stunned, and unsure of what to do and how to move forward.
While this may spell trouble for many programs, those coaches and teams who are using the MaxOne Team App for coaching, training, and team management can coach their entire team while students are social-distancing at home.
MaxOne’s Team App is being used by hundreds of high schools and colleges across the U.S. to stay connected in a time of limited face-to-face interaction. To date, MaxOne has helped more than 20,000 coaches and 200,000 athletes improve performance ranging from 12-40%, by creating virtual on-demand training environments.
How to keep your athletes active during COVID-19
As classrooms and meetings are turning virtual, it’s still important for coaches to stay connected and keep their athletes moving forward. MaxOne has always been concerned with improving youth sports around the nation and times like this require an all hands on deck approach that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
During this time of uncertainty, MaxOne is here to help give coaches the tools necessary to keep their teams moving in a positive direction. MaxOne is being used by hundreds of high schools and colleges across the U.S. to stay connected in a time of limited face-to-face interaction.
“We’ve spent the last year developing our athletes and working towards a goal. The last thing I would want to see is that progress and momentum lost. The ability to customize at-home workouts for our athletes while they are away from the weight room is extremely helpful,” says Riki Valdez, football coach at Sahuarita High School in Arizona.
In an effort to help athletes and coaches,we are providing our training and communication platform for free to any school or club through the end of May. Sign-up by clicking here.
Communicating with your team and their parents
In addition to MaxOne being a resource for keeping your team physically active, it’s also a great way for your whole program to stay connected. SMS, chat, and email are all available with MaxOne, allowing coaches to get updates and messages out to everyone with ease.
“With the upcoming push towards limited face-to-face interaction, it’s important to our program to continue building a strong foundation for communication. Messaging and chat features paired with customizable content sharing gives our coaching staff confidence that we will continue to move our program forward in this new reality that we are facing,” continues Coach Valdez.
It’s important that we get through this together, and take the necessary steps to weather the storm in its current state. Relationships still need to be built and the new reality of the “virtual locker room” shouldn’t change that.
“With the current state of uncertainty, the MaxOne software is going to really help our coaching staff keep the relationship we have with our athletes going even if we aren’t able to be with them in person. Not to mention the ability it has to keep our parents in the loop as well so they can keep track of all the changes that are occurring.” says
Keith Kilmer, football coach at Lowell High School in Indiana
Change is here, and whether you are ready for it or not, the MaxOne app is a great place to help you get started.
Need more assistance? We are here to help.
Here at MaxOne, we are doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We’ve closed our headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the near future, but are operating at full capacity as a remote team. If you need assistance, our customers come first so you can count on MaxOne to be there for you.
This article was written by Darrin Sheffer, Coach at Brentville District HS (VA), and founder of the Obsessed with Offense Blog. Coach Sheffer has recently transitioned into coaching defense and provides great insight for anyone that has coached on both sides of the ball…
5 Reasons to Go No Huddle (That Make Sense)
Anyone who has followed this blog, or me on Twitter (@darrinsheffer) you may know that I have been critical on the Spread No Huddle/Up Tempo trend that has been hitting HS football for quite some time now. However, it is my personal philosophy to be a Lifetime Learner and also have the ability to adapt/evolve my position on certain topics. So, without any further ado here are 5 reasons why every HS Football program should consider going No Huddle next season (at least 5 that make sense to me) in no particular order:
1. Everyone’s Doing It!
OK, OK I know I just made some Old School Coaches out there upset, but before you stop reading out of anger please let me explain myself. Unfortunately for us the culture of the Transfer isn’t something that has stayed at the college level. HS players are now transferring to new schools left and right.
So what can we do about it as coaches? One thing you can do is to make your program appear more attractive to players outside of your school. How can you do that? If you go to a No Huddle offense it will appear to outsiders that you are more Modern/With It than the Old School programs. The key word here is Appear, which leads me to the next reason…
PSA: You don’t need to be a Spread/Up Tempo team to use No Huddle! If you are a Triple Option team you don’t have to change anything about your X’s and O’s. The only thing that changes is how you signal plays in. Either it’s using boards, wristbands or signals the only thing you change about your offensive system is the fact that your players no longer huddle up to call the play.
3. Control of Tempo
When many people think No Huddle they also think Up Tempo or Hurry Up. In reality that isn’t always the case. I feel that it is easier in a No Huddle offense to control the tempo of the offense than in a traditional under center offense. Many huddle offenses have to use two different systems of calling in plays when using their different tempos. In a No Huddle offense you can have multiple tempos, but at the same time have the exact same signaling system which will make it easier on both the players and coaches. Not to mention the fact that it will make practice time more efficient if you only need to practice one play call system.
Defensive Coordinators don’t like to be rushed. DC’s like to have time to figure out the down and distance, what does the opponent like to call in this situation, etc. From a Defensive perspective facing a No Huddle attack makes you feel like you don’t have as much time to call the right defense, even if the No Huddle team isn’t going Up Tempo. This can frustrate a DC into calling base/vanilla defenses or maybe go the opposite route and try to get too fancy, ether way you are taking them out of their comfort zone.
Unless the rules are different in your area, the offense is not required to give the defense an opportunity to substitute unless you also substitute players. Typically it is easier for the defense to sub in guys versus an old school huddle team. When facing a No Huddle team, even if they don’t go Up Tempo it can be more difficult to sub in players. This is very effective when your kids are in better shape than the other team.
This article was written by Phil Vogt, author of The Speed-T Offense. It can originally be found on thecoachvogt.com. In this article, Coach Vogt breaks down the common play, Power O, explaining the effectiveness and variety in which it can be run…
The Power of Power O
Often referred to as “God’s Play”. It’s physical, it’s downhill, brings bodies to the point of attack and can be downright punishing. The edge defenders must be physical and mentally strong or risk being exposed. The Play I am referring to, of course, is the Almighty Power O. The Power O is aptly named, and it is also one of the most versatile plays in the offensive world. Power O Can be run from any formation and personnel group, tagged with reads and assignment exchanges, and dressed up with formations, motions, fakes and trades. All this done without changing rules for the offensive line, what’s not to love about that? There is only one other scheme that can replicate that kind of versatility, the zone play. This article will focus the basic blocking rules for the Power O against different fronts, the different variations, and how to dress the play up.
I love to run plays as a series, blame it on growing up with a Wing-T coach as a father. I pair the Power O with Widezone, because of this I want every player in the offense to make the first step of Power O look just like Widezone. With that in mind, here are the general rules.
QB-The QB will reverse out and sprint the ball back to the tailback. He will put the ball on the mid-line and keep his body clear for the back. After the hand off the QB will carry out a 3-5 step burst opposite of the play for a boot fake. However, it is not just a fake, he is looking at the defensive edge player and checking him. If that edge player is not checking the QB on boot, we will play action.
FB-The FB will take a path aiming at the inside leg of the tackle. He is going to kick out the first man who shows on the tackles outside leg. This rule accounts for any stunts and prevents the “I got my guy” quotes lol. the FB will put his outside shoulder on the defensive players inside breast plate. We would love for him to destroy this player, but he really doesn’t have too. Just getting a body on him quickly will suffice.
TB-The tailbacks first step will be as if he is running Widezone the opposite direction. He will then go straight down the mid-line for the hand off. The TB cannot come of the mid-line until his first step after the hand off. He then takes a path to the C gap and is looking at the edge defender for a bounce or bang read. He will bounce if the edge player spills and bang it in the C gap if he gets kicked.
PST & G-The play side offensive linemen will use the rule “gap to backer”. They will step with their inside foot at any defender from their nose to the adjacent lineman’s nose. The aim point for the gap defender is his near shoulder, placing the head in front to stop penetration. The blocker will try and wash the defender inside. If nobody is in his gap, his first step will be an inside step to clear any stunts into the gap and then he will go to the “BACKSIDE” linebacker and seal him off. This rule also applies to the tight end, with one caveat. If the C gap defender is shaded on the TE we will arc release him to the Sam or Safety. Here is an example:
C-The center has to replace the pulling backside guard. If there is an A gap defender he will gap block him with the same techniques as the play side linemen. If there is not a defender in his gap he will step flat down the line of scrimmage to wall off the 3tech, or 4i/4. Penetration on the backside does not hurt this play, so he only needs to get his body on the defender to stop pursuit.
BSG-The backside guard is going to your puller. I like an open pull because I want him to the point of attack as fast as possible. He will take a step that gains ground and opens his hips so he can run. He is looking for the fullbacks block. If the fullback gets the kick, the guard will turn up and fit up on the play side linebacker. If the fullback gets spilled and pins the edge defender, the guard will bounce, then turn up and fit on the scraping play side linebacker.
BST and TE-The backside tackle and tight end have one have a rule called “pull check”. On any defender shaded head up or inside they will step inside and then hinge to open hips and wall off the defender, again…backside penetration does not hurt the play, just get a body on him. If the defender is in an outside shade, just base block him and wall him off.
DIFFERENT FRONTS & WHEN TO CALL POWER O
All of the base rules will never change, except for the TE’s. I will include here a quick description of when I like to call the play and what we do to a few different looks given by the defense. I am a big Widezone guy, I also run a modified toss I call blast, as well as the bellyG. All of these plays will eventually cause the defense to do one of two things, and often times both.
They will start overflowing with the play direction.
They will start slanting with the formation
The thing about slanting is 9 times out of 10, you can dictate the slant by your formation. A film scout will tell you where they will go, as well as the first two series of the game. Then all you have to do is get them slanting the way you want.
Once the defense is slanting or flowing, preferably both, then it is time for Power O. Formation the defense in a manner that you know which way the slant is going. Call the Power O the opposite way of the slant/flow. Power O is a gap scheme play, so your guys up front will just take them where they are going already! It makes for a very easy block, and you can wash them down across the formation most of the time, even with undersized lineman like I have. Here is an example vs a “Slant 50”
You can see from the photo that the OL is just taking the DL for a ride. The uncovered Guard will step down to check gap, then go wall off backside linebackers. The ghost 9tech on the play side will be an easy kick for the fullback because he has been checking the QB all night on boot fakes (if he hasn’t…why aren’t you calling the keeper??)
If you are unsure about what direction the defense is slanting, get in a balanced formation and use the count system, which I take about here (LINK). Just count the numbers and go where you have more than them. Simple math. Here is an example formation you could use:
Occasionally you will get a gift for an alignment by the defense. A 3tech and a 9tech to the strength. Why anyone would do this, I will never understand, but when it happens from time to time. You can run the Power O as is or steal what they gave you, with a “solid” call. If the tackle sees that the guard is covered and nobody is in the C gap he will call “Solid”. This tells the FB he is on insert instead of kick, and tells the TE that he just needs to turn out on the 9tech. here is an example:
Here it is vs a bear front:
Blocking a play side 7tech can present some problems if he is a war daddy. I play with 7’s all the time, I like to keep them in a state of uncertainty. We will arc the TE to the Sam on Widezone away, cut block him with the TE on Widezone away, double team him, down block him, and on Power O to him, arc the TE to the Sam and kick him with the FB. The 7tech, 9 times out of 10 will step with that TE and widen up, making an easy kick for the full back, here is a second look at it:
One of the beautiful things about the Power O, is the ability to run it a multitude of different ways, and not change anything. One of the most common variations of the play is the Power Read. Made popular by Auburn when they had Cam Newton, they made a living on this one variation. Instead of kicking the defensive end with the fullback, the QB is now going to read the play side End. Either a guy in motion or the tail back will ride across the QB while the QB shuffles and reads towards the play side. If the End squeezes he will simply give it to the speed back, and he will carry the ball to the perimeter on a jet sweep look. If the End chases the speed back, the QB will keep and run ball behind the offensive line, which is running the Power O. its simple, effective, and places the defense in a big bind. Here are a few ways to run the play:
With the prevalence of RPOs (run pass options) in today’s offensive world, it was only a matter of time before it was tagged alongside the Power O. One of the easiest RPOs to pair with the play, is a slant by the slot. If the LB plays run, the QB will pull and throw the slant. If the LB sits or drops, the QB will give. Here is a look:
One of my favorite variations is also my go too variation when we have been hurting the defensive with Zone Lead. The play is tagged with a “Kick” call. This simply tells the Guard and the FB to switch responsibilities. The Guard will now kick out the edge defender and the FB will jab opposite to let the Guard clear, and then become the fit player. Here is the example:
DRESSING IT UP
Power O can also be “dressed up” several different ways. This is a term sometimes called “window dressings” as well. It refers to making the play look different, but it’s actually the same. Same but Different is an excellent way to conflict the defense. One of the easiest ways to dress up the Power O, is with jet motion. You can run the Power O with the jet fake or against the jet fake, depending on what you are trying to do to the defense. If you are trying to widen the edge defender(s) then go with the motion. If you are trying to influence the Linebackers away from the play, then go against the motion.
Shifting and jumping formations is very effective as well. One of my favorites is to jump from unbalanced one way to unbalanced the other way. The defense will be worried about lining up correctly and not stopping the play. Here is a look at it:
The TE will shift down to become the eligible tackle. The Tackle, Z and X will all jump sides to set the unbalanced the opposite way. The key is to do it quickly and force the defense to scramble. Eventually, they will just start sliding the front, allowing you to attack weak personnel at your desire.
Down on the goalline, you can dress it up out of a 3back, power-i look. The 3back(z) will go outside to influence the edge defenders and become the alley blocker if the play happens to bounce. Effective, and nothing changes for the rules of the play.
CLOSING the Power O is one of the most versatile and physical plays in football. I firmly believe that every offense should run some facet of Power O, whether you are under center pro-i, wing-T or shot gun. The fact that it can be run from all these different offenses clearly shows its merit. It can give a physical component to any offense. It can be used as a counter to zone runs or it can be your staple play. The point is, the Power O has been here a long time, and I don’t see it ever leaving the game of football. Feel free to comment below. Please subscribe via email on my website (TheCoachVogt.com) so you can get updated whenever I post a new article, and give me a follow on twitter at @thecoachvogt.
This article was written by Phil Vogt, author of the book The Speed-T Offense. It can originally be found on thecoachvogt.com. In this article, Coach Vogt breaks down Air Raid concepts and how to apply them to your offense.
Adding Air Raid Concepts to Any Offense
Using a simple quick passing attack in a run first offense can keep the defense on its toes. This article is an excerpt from my book “The Speed-T Offense”. This concept can be used in any run first offense from flexbone/SBV to single wing, but if you are interested in checking out some wing-T stuff, you can get my book HERE!
The passing game covered here will be to use in addition to your current play action passing attack. The purpose here is to put in something that is super simple but still effective. Most of your time will be dedicated to your run game, and play action passes. This needs to be something that is inexpensive yet will yield good results. For that purpose, we are going to steal a concept directly from the Air raid offense so frequently seen in offenses today. So, all that said, let’s dig in.
First, and foremost, it needs to be simple. It needs to be simple for the offensive line, and for the skill players. Both in protection and routes being ran. Second, it needs to utilize high percentage routes. Lastly, it needs to get the ball out in three seconds or less, to make it easier on the offensive linemen and the QB alike. Here is how you will accomplish this.
The play call is going to set the formation AND the protection with one word. We will use the words “red”and “blue” for the sake of this article, but you can obviously use whatever word you would like. Red will be 3×1 right, with protection set right. Blue will be 3×1 left, with protection set left. Next, you will say a number: one, two or three. This will tell the receivers what to run. THAT IS IT! The play is called. Here is a look at an example of each one:
Red and Blue are your protections and formations. A simple half slide will suffice for this, half slide is covered in depth in my BOOK. Big on Big can work, but will require a lot of work fundamentally. Half slide is easy to do and simple to teach, in a future article I will speak on half slide as a base pass protection. If you want to get even easier, go full slide, however, you will need to have a fullback that likes to take on defensive ends. There are not too many of those out there, but if you got one, full slide is the way to go. But if you already have a base protection for drop back passing…. just use that.
The routes are going to be determined by the number that is called. As a base rule, EVERY receiver will have a five yard hitch. This means they will run to six yards, turn back in to the QB and stop when they get back to five yards. Every receiver will assume that they are getting the ball. If the number of the corresponding receiver is called, he will then have a vertical route. (If your QB is a good one, then your WRs can run option routes. I prefer corner/post for that) On his fifth to sixth step the vertical should be looking for the ball if he is an inside receiver. If he is an outside receiver, he will look for the ball on his seventh to tenth step. The number “1” will be the outside receivers. The number “2” will be the Z. The number “3” will be the A. If their number is not called, then they have a hitch. Your quick screens can be used in this series as well. This may be the simplest pass game in America right now, Hitches and quick screens… combined with your normal ground and pound offense, you will need no more.
The QB only has three seconds to get rid of the ball. If he has not gotten rid of the ball in that time he will throw it out of bounds or take off with it. He WILL NOT throw a pick! If he can help it, he will not get sacked, or at least make it back to the line of scrimmage. Where the QB will go with the ball is going to be determined pre snap. He is looking for a hitch to be open pre snap. When he identifies him, that’s it. That is where is going with the ball, catch the snap and get it out there. If there is not a hitch open pre snap, or an obvious post snap movement to take it away, he will go to the vertical. If the vertical is not there, he runs the ball or throws it away. Very simple, even for young QB’s.
Running the football is NOT what this is for, as sacrilegious as that sounds. This is a change up for the defense, and something to add some new era flash to your offense. Your kids will like it and get excited about doing it if you limit its use. You are going to throw the football in these formations every single time, until you get a five man box. Once you get your five man box you can call a run play. Pick just one to use for this series. Good ones to use are trap, Counter and sally draw. Trap is obviously going to hit quickest, and sally draw is going to mimic a pass play. What you choose is up to you. In my personal opinion, sally draw would be the better choice as you will have a body on body, and the linebackers will most likely bail.
These are simple concepts that can be added to anything that you are already doing! You can even incorporate them in to your base formations. Whether that be wing-T or Pro-i. use the same rules for the OL and WR and you are gold! Please feel free to reach out with any questions! Subscribe to the email list to be notified when new articles post and be sure to follow me on twitter at @TheCoachVogt
This article was written by Darrin Sheffer, Coach at Brentville District HS (VA), and founder of the Obsessed with Offense Blog. Coach Sheffer has recently transitioned into coaching defense and provides great insight for anyone that has coached on both sides of the ball…
Are you an Offensive Guy? Do you want to become an even better Offensive Coach? I have a solution for you: coach Defense! Here are 5 reasons why (in no particular order)
1. You get to study a different offense each week
As the LBs Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator part of my responsibilities this season include breaking down our opponent’s offense each week. How does this help an Offensive Guy? I get to see and study more offenses this way than I would as an Offensive Coordinator.
2. Better understanding of how D-Coordinators think
Do you ever wonder what goes through a Defensive Coordinators mind mid-game? Well, if you coach defense you will get first-hand experience as to how a defensive coach would think and react to what you are doing on offense. Consider this: what would you do on defense to try and stop your own offense?
3. Know the true weaknesses of each defense
How would you change up your offensive attack facing a 33 Stack? What about the next week when you face a 4-3 Defense? Each Defense has weaknesses and strengths. Want to know how you can best learn them? Coach each defense, you will quickly learn where you are weak and where you are strong.
4. Better understanding of different coverage
Kind of piggybacking on #3 how do you attack a Cover 3 vs a Cover 2? Do you know where the holes in the coverage are? How will the D-Coach on the other side react when he sees you are attacking their weaknesses? If you have coached defense then you will have a better understanding of all of these.
5. Insight on which offenses are more difficult to defend
Each defensive coach will have at least one offense that they HATE to defend. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Wing-T or the Air Raid, each coach has one offense that they struggle against. So how do you choose an offense for your team? Maybe pick the offense you hate to defend!
This article is a MaxOne original written by Scott Heitland, Head Football Coach at Dallas Center-Grimes High School (IA). Scott has been a football coach for 20+ years and is an active board member for the Iowa Coaches Association. In this article, Coach Heitland shares the importance of building relationships with the Youth Football Program in your area.
Building Connections with Your Youth Football Program
Whether you’re a veteran head coach or a rookie head coach, establishing a good working connection with your local youth football program should be a goal for us all. Some might view this as an additional responsibility that they just don’t have the time for, especially during your season. But I would challenge you to take some time to rethink that position.
As youth football grows, whether flag or tackle versions, it is a very important time for these young players because their experience will likely determine their desire to play in the coming years. I often tell our youth football leaders that they very well might be the most important football coaches in our community. It is the experience that they provide that might determine whether I get the chance to coach those kids in high school or not.
I ask you again, are you willing to put some time into building a strong connection with your youth football league?
During my journey in working with our local youth football programs, I have tried to follow some very simple steps in creating a strong bridge with them. The first thing that every coach should do is take the time to assess the state of the youth program. The best way to accomplish this is to sit down and listen.
Take an assessment from their point of view on how things are going. How is participation? What is the level of excitement from the kids and parents? Are the people in your community finding a program that they want to be a part of? Taking the time to gather information is a crucial first step. Until you know exactly what is or isn’t going on it is hard to implement change or offer suggestions. Don’t rush this step and take your time gathering your information.
Once you feel you have a hand on what the state of the program is, gather some resources that you have to offer. Sit back down and have a discussion on how you can help, implement change, or be involved. At this point, you can decide what level of involvement you want to have.
Once it is established what your role could be, take the lead and go! If you feel that a window of opportunity is there, don’t let it slip away.
Your position as the football leader in your community is valuable.
Many times, the parents coaching youth sports don’t have the time or the resources to grow and learn about the latest trends or techniques in the game, but you as the head coach are always growing and learning about how you can coach the game better. Don’t be afraid to lead, you may be very surprised on how well received your efforts will be.
When you find yourself in a position to contribute, work collaboratively with the local leaders to create a better and improved pathway for kids to follow during their youth football experience. If your assessment discovers that people are looking for a better or improved game, use this chance to share how you believe the game should evolve for the youth.
Keep your focus on what you as the head coach want kids to develop as they make their way to your program. Fundamentals and skill development are the foundation of any athlete and make sure that these things are the focus of your youth program.
As you take a role in creating the pathway they will follow, it will ensure that these things are being addressed. Create a pathway that is best for the kids in your community. It doesn’t have to look like all the others, but it does have to work for you and the people involved with it.
Next, let the leaders and coaches know that you are there to support them! Don’t come in and make suggestions and offer changes without offering your support.
As mentioned above, many of the youth leaders don’t have development opportunities or know where to go and get them. Offer to include them as part of your staff at a clinic where you get a clinic rate for as many coaches as you want. Offer to put on a local clinic using your staff to teach them during a time of the year when they can all participate. Give them a chance to attend your camps or practice to see drills run in real time. (See Educating Young Coaches)
You can even offer to sit down and help them create practice plans to make sure that they are using their time efficiently. Whatever you choose, let them know that you are there to support them. You will develop a strong group of coaches in the process and people who will support you in the stands on game night.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of your time and efforts.
When you invest in your youth programs you are investing in your future.
You open the lines of communication with the coaches and league leaders in a way that will improve the overall game and experience of the participants. Keep in mind that the goal of any change should always be what is best for the kids and when you keep the kids and their experience as your “north star” you will always do what is best!
Assess-Lead-Support-Invest: these are the things that you can offer your local programs.
We as head coaches must remember that we are the first line of defense in protecting the game that we all love. You have a great opportunity as the leader of the game in your community.
This past weekend, a Youth Football Summit was held in Iowa. It was sponsored by our state coach’s association and the state athletic association. It was a great day of gathering information, sharing ideas, and learning about what the different leagues were doing across the state. If you hold a leadership position within your state coach’s association or know someone in your state’s athletic association, I would strongly encourage you to make some calls and see if this is an event that you can hold for the youth leaders in your state.
There are many great things that can be accomplished when people sit down across the table from one another. If you would be interested in learning more about an event like this please contact me and I would love the chance to share with you what we have done here in Iowa to promote it within the high schools and youth leagues.
Good luck and make the most of your opportunity while you have it!
Scott Heitland, Head Football Coach at Dallas Center-Grimes High School (IA)
This article was written by Paul Swanson Jr, from Z-Winning Mindset, an organization that was built to help teams and individuals reach their full potential in sports, school, and life. In this article, Coach Swanson breaks down three expectations for your football team entering Spring Ball.
3 Major Football Spring Ball Expectations
Attitude: Coaches and players both understand the importance of a positive attitude in sport. But attitude can be the difference in a constructive practice and a wasted practice. From the starting 1’s all the way down to the scout team special teams group, each player and coach must be willing to learn and grow every day.
The moment a player or coach’s attitude becomes complacent is when a team’s improvement begins to subside. A positive attitude during a meeting, single drill, conditioning or a game- can make continual learning and overcoming adversity acceptable and even NECESSARY.
Effort: Relentless effort is what separates a good player from a GREAT player. Effort plays are often measured by top tier programs and organizations and they certainly add value to a player’s attributes. High effort players, often referred to as “HIGH-MOTOR” players can change the entire momentum of a practice or game.
They set the tone both in games and practice. A “high-motor” coach can also change the landscape of a team’s culture as well. Focusing on effort before and during competition is crucial to our mindset as coaches and athletes. Applying it every day is critical.
Aggressiveness: Football is a sport of controlled aggression. Short bursts of violence and energy that must be methodical and calculated. Mentally preparing for these encounters will separate the play-MAKERS from the average players.
Unfortunately, football has been geared towards plain, old, AGGRESSION that sometimes can be used without motive or direction. Having tools that mentally steer our mind and effort each practice, each game, and every play can have an incredible impact on the overall success of a team.
These 3 spring-ball expectations all have one thing in common… Controllable. Attitude, effort, and aggressiveness are all under our own control. To be great, we must capitalize on what we can control mentally.
This article was written by Scott Heitland, Head Football Coach at Dallas Center-Grimes High School (IA). Scott has been a football coach for 20+ years with 15 years as a head coach. In this article, Coach Heitland breaks down the overlooked, yet important aspect of coaching: The Practice Plan. It can originally be found on igfootballcoach.com
What Do You Value? Check Your Practice Plan
How many times have you looked at it? Because we all have them and we all look at them before the season. What am I talking about? That sheet you put into your coach’s handbook that lists the items that you place as the guiding principles of your football program.
Things like: PHYSICAL – EFFORT – FUNDAMENTALS – and PRIDE.
We all develop these to show to our kids and coaches what we believe are things that will lead us to success. But the question I ask today is, how well do you follow through on those in your practice plan, games, and points of emphasis?
Do you work these into your actions throughout the week or do they just look really nice on the paper? What we are talking about here are “stated values” and “operational values “.
Stated values are what we say we value and the level of importance that we attach to each value. Operational values are what we actually value by our actions, how we make decisions, and how we resolve conflict.
During the off-season, when we all review and reflect on what is important, it is easy to sit back and say certain things are important to us. We dive into them, maybe read a book or two, and then talk with our coaching staff about them. We work them into our handbooks and player communications.
But as the season starts, and as our time and attention gets pulled in various directions, do we follow through on them? I know that over the past 15 seasons, I have had values that I feel are important stated in our communication that have not been worked into my practice plan, player discussions, and staff meetings like they should have.
We have operated in a way that didn’t connect to those things that we determined to be important. So how can we become better at making sure that stated values are also our operational values?
One way that you can easily check is to dive into your practice plan. All of us put great time and effort into planning each week.
As we enter the off-season, it is a great time to go back and look to see if we are following through. The bottom line is that where we spend our time throughout the week reflects what we place value in as coaches, or in other words, our operational values.
At DC-G, I place a big emphasis on fundamentals. For me, this is reflected in our individual time where we develop and drill the things that help make each player a solid performer.
One of my biggest mentors in coaching was Ed Thomas, the former head coach at Aplington-Parkersburg. Coach Thomas and I had many conversations as I began as a head coach and he would always remind me that if you placed an emphasis on the fundamentals that you always have a chance to win. He felt that too many coaches get caught up in what you do being more important than how you were doing it.
At the end of each season, I go back and look at our practice plans to see what kind of time we are giving this part of practice. If I am saying that it is important (stated value), then we better be committing a specific time each day to it (operational value).
Furthermore, when I look at the practice plan, I need to evaluate what we are doing to be sure that it is beneficial to our players. I want to make sure that the drills and techniques are ones that relate to play on the field.
When I find someone on the game field doing something that connects to a drill at practice, I make sure to point it out in our team meeting to show them that this time and drill is valuable and paying off. These things show support of the stated values and reinforce with coaches and kids that what we are doing is important. (Operational values)
At DC-G, I encourage my assistant coaches to find the 6-8 drills that they feel are vital to their kids developing at their position. Once they find those, we drill them each week all season long.
I believe that if we get distracted by too many drills or get caught up in a “cool” drill that doesn’t connect to the field, we are wasting our time. We don’t have enough time each week to get caught wasting it.
By choosing the 6-8 drills you can rotate through, you can show the kids that how you do something is of the utmost importance. You can coach the details and little things that will allow them to find success against their opponents.
As I look at this past season’s plans, I found that we committed time to individual drills every day for at least 15-20 minutes. That adds up to an hour of practice time each week spent on becoming better athletes at our positions.
I now have to evaluate if it was adequate. Are the drills being focused upon ones that help kids translate to the field? What I did notice in my evaluation this year was that we got away from this a bit late in the year. When I discovered this, I had to ask myself what pulled us away?
Was it something that I let us slip on or was there a reason that it happened? I need to talk with my assistants and ask them for their opinion on what we did and the impact that it had on us. I like having these conversations with them as I feel it gives them more ownership in what is happening and when they feel like they have ownership, they invest more. (See Coach, You Make the Difference)
So where do you spend your time? Do you spend it on things during the week that you value and that helps you win games?
Take a week this off-season and evaluate your practice plans closely and see if your stated values reflect your operational values. I promise it will be time well spent and will also result in you making better decisions that will help you win football games.
If you would like to follow up with any questions or ideas, don’t hesitate to email me at:
This article was written by Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Coach for Fairmont High School (MN), Brian Wille, founder of Intentionally Grounded. In this article, Brian speaks on his new approach to the design of his playbook, and how he was able to design it around his personnel and their offensive attributes.
Playbook Building: What’s Your Identity?
A coach’s playbook can be his pride and joy, it is a collection and reflection of all of his vast knowledge of the game of football….or at least we as coaches think so anyway. It is this stigma that can often take a beautiful thing and turn it into a complete mess.
A playbook is not a test of your coaching intellect or your man/womanhood, it is an overview of the toolbox and system you plan on employing with your team. It serves as the map to assist you in your quest for success.
However, if the map cannot be deciphered by the reader, it is rendered useless. This is often the case with many playbooks. They are too complicated, too diverse, and too dense. I know this because that is how my playbooks used to look.
What are the dangers of such a playbook and how do you go about fixing it?
This article examines both questions.
We are all guilty of it. We turn on the television on a Saturday or Sunday, watch a college/pro game, and see a great play that we become instantly enamored by. It looks so shiny, it looks so successful, and it looks like it would work perfectly within your offense!
You install this play (among others) into your game plan for the week and then come Friday night, reality sets in. The plays don’t work. Why? Because they don’t fit within what you try to do on offense. They’re an anomaly. They don’t complement any of your other offensive plays and your players struggle to see the symmetry.
This is the reality of what many coaches around the nation deal with at every level. I am guilty of this too! While all of the plays we want to install have some merit and could potentially succeed in a game, the sustained success will rarely follow.
Sustained offensive success comes from an offensive system that runs a calculated set of plays that all complement one another. A hallmark of such success can be seen in a team that looks like they have 10-15 different run plays and 25 plus different pass plays when in reality they have three to four run plays and seven or eight pass concepts that they run a variety of different ways.
It wasn’t until this past offseason that I truly understood how much an offensive identity and system truly impacted our offensive production.
I had heard the same message that I am preaching to you now at various clinics, but when I got the opportunity to put my own playbook together, I continued to commit the same sin over and over by adding plays that didn’t match what we do.
We would spend so much time working on a set of plays and we would run them once or twice during the course of the game.
I looked back at all the valuable practice time we lost last year due to installing new, non-complementary plays within our offense and it resulted in disappointment.
Instead of getting better at the plays we pride ourselves on (our identity as an offense), I wanted to expand the quantity of the plays we could run. Did a few of the plays we installed result in some nice gains? Absolutely, but it didn’t make us a better offense overall.
As a result, I went into the offseason looking to refine our playbook and make our offense, and our players, more efficient.
How to Fix it?
I came across articles by coaches Phil Vogt and Slade Singleton that opened my eyes. Both preached simplicity and a limited playbook. After reviewing their materials (such as Slade’s Rule of 4), I realized how much deadweight our playbook carried.
Instead of minoring in everything, we needed to establish an identity to major in. This realization came full-circle for me when I was looking at our up-tempo or no-huddle package. I was struggling all season to implement the system to our offense because I could never figure out enough signals, or enough space on our wristbands, to include everything I wanted to include in our fast tempo packages.
I kept thinking, “Oh this play would be good….so would this play…..I don’t want to be left without this play…..” and I ended up keeping all of the plays like some sort of hoarder.
The reality of the situation is that by the time our players had to search on their wristband for the correct play, we weren’t even playing fast anymore. This is 100% my fault. The knowledge and guidance of Coach Vogt and Coach Singleton showed me that the old adage of “less is more” is absolutely a fact.
If we want to play fast, if we want to take our offense to the next level, then we need to figure out what it is we want our kids to know and then become experts in it.
Everything else we do, should complement these things and make them better.
The three keys to developing and implementing a successful offensive identify (in my mind) include:
1. No more than three to four different run schemes, quick game concepts, drop-back concepts, RPOs, and screens (i.e. Rule of 4 to some extent). This allows you to major in what plays are important to you and you can build in the plays that complement those base-plays best.
2. Matching your personnel with your system. If you cannot match the strengths of your players to your playbook, you will severely limit your overall potential. Don’t be afraid to change your system to accommodate a special or unique set of athletes that come through your program. Most high schools cannot recruit players to fit a specific system so you must be flexible and ready to adapt.
3. Run what you know. If you are going to teach your players to be successful, you must first know what you are talking about. Find an offense that makes sense to you. By nature, I’ve always been a Spread Offense and, most recently, an Air Raid guy. I never realized it until I read the book The Perfect Pass.
I had never been familiar with all of the Air Raid concepts; but as I learned more about them and compared them to the routes we were already running, it all began to make perfect sense to me. I understand the why behind the system and the how for teaching it. That tells me that the offense is something I can run and implement. If you cannot understand the why or the how then it shouldn’t be your system.
Don’t let pride get in the way of progress. Simplify, simplify, simplify; the rest will take care of itself.
This article was originally written by Wes Simmons from @3DCoaches and it can originally be found on 3Dinstitute.com, a website dedicated to providing a framework for coaching built on a foundation of purpose and delivered through workshops and online learning. In this article, Wes discusses building trust within your program.
Building a Culture of Trust
Building a culture of trust is imperative if we want our teams to reach their fullest potential. Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. Any sustainable success we achieve is directly related to the processes we conceive. Good processes are what drive good results, so we need to help athletes learn to TRUST the process.
To build extraordinary teams, our team members must learn to TRUST in extraordinary ways.
To establish a culture of trust, it’s helpful to think about how trust needs to work for an athlete in 3 directions: upward, inward and outward.
First, athletes must trust US as their coaches (upward). As those in authority over our teams, we should regularly look in the mirror and ask ourselves questions like, “Do MY attitudes and actions breed trust or do they undermine it?”
As leaders, it’s essential that our words and actions line up. As athletes learn to trust us, they will become much more likely to trust the PROCESSES that we lay out for their development as individuals and as teams.
If our processes are right, and athletes buy into them because of their trust in us, their confidence will be on the rise. With hard work, repetition, and patience, our athletes will begin to trust in their OWN ABILITIES at a new level as well.
In other words, their trust will not only be UPWARD toward you as a coach but INWARD toward themselves. This is an essential character quality that will empower them to not only face adversity in pressurized sport situations but in the pressurized situations of life. If we can establish this type of confidence in our athletes, we set them up for success on and off the field.
Athletes need to trust UPWARD in you as the coach. They also need to trust INWARD in their own developed skill-set. Finally, they need to trust OUTWARD toward their teammates.
When you have a team full of individuals who trust that everyone else on the team will do THEIR job, great things begin to happen. And when it works in all 3 directions, UPWARD, INWARD, and OUTWARD, our culture begins to permeate with trust.
Where To Start
One of the best ways to GAIN trust is to GIVE trust. When we show our athletes that we trust them, that trust will begin to be reciprocated.
Remember, it starts with US. First and foremost, we need to demonstrate ourselves as being worthy to be trusted. One of the best ways to GAIN trust is to GIVE trust. When we show our athletes that we trust them, that trust will begin to be reciprocated. Here’s a short clip from a 3D Coaching Workshop where I was sharing along these lines:
When we’re intentional about giving more trust to our athletes, it should cause us to think carefully about the role of rules on our teams. Team rules are important, but we must always be willing to (re)evaluate our team rules in the light of relationships. Besides protecting people from various forms of harm, I believe rules should mostly exist to protect relationships.
If we want to build a culture of trust, we need relationships to flourish in every direction.
If this is our desire, as Joe Ehrmann has convincingly demonstrated, we really only need to enact 2 primary team rules:
Coaches love your athletes
Athletes love each other
If these rules define the boundaries for our programs, relationships will thrive, trust will skyrocket, and we will be well on our way to creating great team cohesion.