Adding Air Raid Concepts to Any Offense

By | Coaches Resources, Football

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 2:

red 2


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

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5 Reasons Offensive Guys Should Coach Defense

By | Coaches Resources, Football
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?
Image result for football defense
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.
Image result for football defense
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!

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Coach instructing Youth Football team at practice

Building Connections with Your Youth Football Program

By | Coaches Resources, Football

Coach instructing Youth Football team at practice

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 HeitlandHead Football Coach at Dallas Center-Grimes High School (IA)

Additional Resources

Feel free to contact Scott with any questions about the article: scott.heitland@dcgschools.com

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Coach Preparing his team for Spring Football Practice

3 Major Football Spring Ball Expectations

By | Coaches Resources, Football

Coach Preparing his team for Spring Football Practice

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.

Additional Resources:

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What Do You Value? Check Your Practice Plan

By | Coaches Resources, Football

Head Football Coach is using his practice plan to give instruction to a player

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.


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:


Good luck!

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Playbook Building: What’s Your Identity?

By | Coaches Resources, Football

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.

The Dangers

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.

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Building a Culture of Trust

By | Baseball, Basketball, Coaches Resources, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, Wrestling

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:

  1. Coaches love your athletes
  2. 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.

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People Are More Important Than Tasks

By | Coaches Resources, Football

This article was originally written by Chris Fore on coachfore.org Coach Fore also owns Eight Laces Consulting and provides resources for football coaches across the country. In this article, Chris discussed the importance of the person when running practice. 

People Are More Important Than Tasks

I recently read something fascinating in a book called Supervision and Instructional Leadership by Carl D. Glickman.  He explained something about group meetings at schools that got me thinking about football practice.

Let us face it, we have all dreaded staff meetings at schools for one reason or another.  Many times that we dread those meetings, is because nothing will apply to us.  Therefore, those meetings are just a waste of time.

It got me thinking about football “group meetings,” or what we call practice. 

How many of our practices are a complete waste of time to the kids coming?  

If the practice doesn’t apply to them, what is that going to do to the direction of your team over the course of a season?

As a coach, we have many, many different goals for our season, for each game week, and for each practice.  Sometimes the goal is to install a new kick return, or maybe it is a new blitz.  We have different goals for our kids.  For one, it might be to earn a college scholarship while for another we would love to see him start a few games.

So, there is a delicate balance that coaches must evaluate: the goals of the groups and the goals of the individual. 

Glickman calls this “the two dimensions of an effective professional group.” I don’t think that this idea applies only to a professional group, it applies to our high school football teams as well, and specifically to our practices.  You can simply exchange the word practice for the word group.

The leader must split the meeting (practice) in to two separate “dimensions.” 

He calls these the “task dimension” and the “person dimension.” 

The “task dimension” represents “the content and purpose of the group meeting (practice).” There is a task or tasks to accomplish and the group sets out to accomplish that task or tasks.  For instance, installing 3 new plays for this weeks’ game might be today’s practice task.

The “person dimension” involves the “interpersonal process and the satisfaction participants derive from working with each other.”  Each of our players has needs.  Social needs, physical needs, emotional needs.  They are all playing football for a different reason.  As a coach, it is key to understand the individual needs of our players.

This is where we see big differences in programs. 

When kids feel and know that their Head Coach, or their unit coach, or position coach actually cares for them as a person, not just a teammate, we find successful programs. 

Glickman says that in the professional meeting world, when there is  concern for each individual, then it leads to a positive group climate.  And when there is a positive group climate, the individuals will want to meet as a group again and again and again.

This is where the light bulb went on for me! The teams where I’ve had great team chemistry, the kids wanted to be there. 

They wanted that group to meet often.  Why?  Because they felt valued.  They felt as if their individual contributions, the “people dimension,” were worthy to be added to the team.  They had something to offer, and they wanted to offer it.  They felt valued as a person.

Glickman would say that we achieved great “person dimension” that led to great “task dimension” as a group.  Do you see how that works together?

The very same thing applies to coaching staffs.  I’m sure we have all been on staffs that worked very well together, and other staffs that did not.  

Glickman would analyze the group and probably find that “task dimension” became more important than “people dimension.”  Therefore, the people didn’t like the meetings, and didn’t want to be there.

The takeaway: remember to value your players as people too.

If you’re a Head Coach, remember that your staff is made up of people.  If the players want to be there, and the coaches want to be there, then the task dimension is going to come together so well. The work will be done with satisfaction and effort like you’ve never seen!

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D-Line Play in the 3-3 Stack Defense

By | Coaches Resources, Football

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 has successfully utilized the 3-3 Stack defense into his system.

D-Line Play in the 3-3 Stack Defense

As a former Offensive guy I used to participate in the age old debate of “What Scheme best fits my players”.  Well, turns out that Defensive guys have the exact same debate. 

One of the questions I constantly see on Twitter goes something like “I’ve got small/average sized lineman and we play teams that are bigger and stronger than us, what can we do about it?” 

Well, I don’t claim to have all the answers for you Coach, but I would tell you that you may want to look into the 3-3 Stack Defense. 

Even though I have only been in this defense for one season I really do believe that the Stack can get your smaller linemen in better positions for success.  

The Stack is great for teams who have smaller/faster lineman, but even if you have bigger/stronger guys you could still run the Stack because it is extremely flexible. 

The way that we run it at our HS fits our smaller guys better (our biggest lineman this season was 220 lbs) because our line slanted on every single play. 

We had over 20 different calls for D-Line slants and stunts, but we had 4 main Slant calls we focused on: Strong, Weak, Pinch and Loop. 

We believe that having our guys focus on their movement and slanting had them in better positions than the type of gap assignments you see in 4-3 or 4-2-5 defenses.

Techniques for D-Line in Stack

If you are thinking about going to the Stack you may need to rethink the types of techniques you are teaching your linemen.  Because we are focusing on using movement on each play, the speed of your players “get-off” and hitting gaps on the slants are more important than attacking O-Lineman shoulders. 

You also won’t need to work much on bull rushing, instead focus on hand fighting and wrist control.  The point here is to be fast into the gap and get the O-line hands off of you. 

The last thing we want in the Stack is for our small lineman to get into a stalemate with a bigger stronger guy.  Also, because of the fact that we have multiple movements up front, and multiple blitzes with LBs, the O-Line will have no idea where your players are going which can cause havoc up front.  

 If you have any questions feel free to contact me on Twitter @darrinsheffer 

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Checklist For Offensive Linemen

By | Coaches Resources, Football

This article was written by Brian Wille, OC and Assistant Coach for Fairmont HS in Minnesota, founder of Intentionally Grounded. In his recent transition into coaching offensive line, he’s found that there are 5 things that offensive linemen must have to be successful at the position.


Checklist for Offensive Linemen

This past season was the first year that I was able to coach the offensive line. Prior to this year, I’d predominantly worked with quarterbacks and wide receivers.  I enjoyed coaching both positions very much, but as I transitioned into the role of offensive coordinator, I knew to coach the offensive line was a must. This is where everything gets started and I wanted to ensure that things up front were solidified in the manner we wanted in order to experience the offense we designed.

Let me say, it was quite the learning process!

I spent the summer preparing by reading every piece of offensive line literature I could get my hands on from Rick Trickett to Larry Manfull. This, coupled with input from our veteran linemen and ex-coaches I networked with, prepared me to teach the offensive line at an effective level….or at least I thought. There is so much to learn and I am still learning each and every day!  However, one of the biggest lessons that I learned this past season wasn’t about x and o’s or technique. It was about personnel. I learned about the qualities that I need to have in order for an offensive lineman to play in our system. I’ve since included these requirements in a lineman contract that I am going to ask all of my linemen to sign. This article examines the top five characteristics I look for in an offensive lineman and what led me to these preferences.


*Note: I’ve had one year of coaching offensive line experience. Most of the opinions I’ve generated were largely based on this past season, but my mentors have also influenced the qualities I look for in an offensive lineman.  This is a combination of both perspectives.*

1. Pad Level

The most important skill or trait that any offensive lineman who plays for us is their pad level.  I don’t care how strong you are or how long of arms you have, the low man wins in the game of football.  It is an undeniable fact and the sooner that our linemen embraces this, the better. Good pad level requires discipline and flexibility to perform consistently.  It becomes exponentially harder when linemen have to block in space, at the second level, or facing oncoming pressure. The best linemen have great pad level throughout; that is the most important thing we look for in all potential starters.

2. Quick Feet

Along with pad level, quick feet are extremely important to us.  I am a believer in the importance of the 6-inch step in any blocking execution.  I am also a huge believer in the concept of “how quickly can you get your second foot firmly in the ground”. I know some coaches are not subscribers to the importance of the second step in the ground theory; but from my brief experiences (and the experiences of those I trust), the linemen who can get their second foot firmly in the ground at a fast rate are the ones who are typically generating movement along the offensive line.  Not only are quick feet important, but maintaining quick feet through contact is also a very desirable quality for our linemen.

3. Great Hands

When I say great hands, I don’t mean the ability to catch the football.  I’m more so referring to good hand placement. I find this to be one of the most underrated aspects of playing the position.  At the beginning of the season, our players were struggling with poor technique and weren’t generating any movement on double-teams or ‘kickouts’. When we looked at the film, hand placement was a huge issue.  It led to defenders sliding off of them, out leveraging them, and pushing them back. Once we corrected the hand placement issues and emphasized aiming points for our hands, we started to see some movement and execution.  We now drill hand placement drills every day!

4. Composure

I have to have a player who can keep their wits about them and keep their mental sanity when playing along with our offensive line.  We know it starts and ends up front in football. If our linemen are losing their composure and are worrying more about things that were out of their control, we are at the mercy of the defense who should be our sole objective and focus.  It is tough enough to handle all of the different stunts, blitzes, and fronts that modern defenses throw at us, why make it more difficult on ourselves by adding distractions? We emphasize remaining composed and looking at things analytically, rather than emotionally when it comes to our performance.

5. Heart

If you don’t want to play along with the offensive line, you probably won’t be very good at it.  You have to love it, you have to want to do it, and you have to be willing to sacrifice personal recognition and accolades for team recognition.  I truly believe that if you have the mindset that you can be an effective lineman and you enjoy working at your craft, you can turn into a serviceable player who works into the rotation.  Point and case: this past season I had an offensive tackle who was all of 6 feet and 160 lbs soaking wet. Going into the season, we assumed that this may be an issue for us and so we tried to create as much depth at the position as possible by getting other players reps.  However, our tackle never bought into the fact that he was undersized or that there was competition all around him. He focused on the task at hand and embraced all of the qualities I have listed above. Unsurprisingly, he was very successful and efficient. He completely shifted my philosophy on what it takes to play on the offensive line and size is not one of the requirements.


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