Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

After the Season, Part 2

Posted by admin December - 11 - 2009 - Friday

I am very fortunate that my Principal is also a former head coach! We enjoy bantering back and forth during lunch duty and hall monitoring about football related topics. He was nice enough to read the blogs posted here and give me some feedback this week. He brought up several things that he feels I should present to you guys as you head into the off season. So, “Thanks Lee for your input!”
This is the time of year to do a Needs Assessment of your program. Most of you will look back and only really think about the last 2 or 3 games when reflecting on your season. It is necessary to evaluate all 10! The Christmas holiday break is a great time to sit down with your video machine and game tapes/dvds and, yes!, chart EVERY play!!! (This should have been done during the games.) If you do not have a coach who is charting every play, offense and defense, during your games… that’s a “little thing” that you need to include next season. It saves you a lot of time during this post-season evaluation. As you look at each play, you are watching for the “break down.” Who missed a key block? Did the RB make a proper cut? This will give you a detailed picture when you take the game results and analyze them. Total up each play in your offense and see how “efficient” it was; i.e., what was the average gain for each play? and.. how many times did you run it during a 10 game season. If it did not average at least 4 yards a carry, you need to ask 2 questions: 1- why wasn’t it efficient? and 2- do I need to keep it in our playbook? If you decide that it’s worth keeping, then the next step is to find out how you can improve upon it.
You will do the same thing with your defense. Who made the tackle? Where was the break down? Was it in technique? Was it poor alignment? or.. was it that the player(s) simply lacked the skill level to make the play? What play(s) hurt you consistently? How did you do when comparing how you defended the run vs. the pass? Remember: statistics can be deceiving! You may have a “great pass defense” (only gave up 50 yards a game, for example) but the reality is: nobody had to throw against you because they rushed for over 300 yards a game! A little drastic, but I think you get the point.
I would encourage you to do the same analysis with your kicking game. Look at each kicking team and do that “Needs Assessment” for kicking, blocking and coverage! If there is a consistent breakdown, it is one more thing that you have to find an answer for.
Once you have these weaknesses exposed and these questions posed, you have to find some answers. The big question would be: do we stay with the offense and defense and/or kicking game that we are using now (is there enough positive that we want to continue to try and get better) or… do we go to something else? I would submit: Guys, there’s no “magic bullet” out there! Now, your personnel might not be suitable for a particular offense (no QB to run the spread passing game) or your philosophy on defense (read and react) might need to be modified but my advise is: IF you spent a lot of time deciding that “this” was the offense or defense for your program… don’t go changing again just because it did not work as well as you’d hoped this year! Stick with your knitting!!! Learn more about it. Coach your coaches so they can teach their position better; but don’t give up on a proven offense just because it didn’t produce as well as you wanted. I have mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating: I have a good friend who coached with me before getting a HC job at a new school that just opened in our region. He decided to install the Del. Wing T like we ran at my school. Like most new programs, they struggled the first year or two and people had to find things to explain why they weren’t successful. The blame fell on that “antiquated offense” he was trying to run! Even some of his staff was asking for a change. He called me for advice and I told him to “stick with it! It’s a proven offense; you know how to run it; keep developing your staff and your personnel.” It took a couple more years but they did stick with it. Now 5 years later, they led our Region in offense and scoring offense… using that same old “broke down” offense that everybody said wouldn’t work! Guys: your opponents want you to “keep fishing” for an offense and defense because that means that you have no confidence in yourself and, more importantly, you have no sense of “identity” within your program. We used to call some school’s the “flavor of the week” offense. It was almost silly to prepare a defensive game plan and scouting report because on Friday night, it was doubtful that we would see anything like what we’d watched on tape in preparation for them. We knew right then that we had them where we wanted them.
You want your kids, your school, your community, your area to “recognize” something about your team. Our identity was wrapped up in our Del. Wing T offense and the Delaware/Michigan winged helmets that we wore! Everybody knew who it was when we played because we had an “identity.”
But…. if you did not do the homework when your first installed your current system and you are dissatisfied with you’re doing, you need to talk to someone who can give you the information that you need to successfully install a new scheme. My principal says to find a clinic that you can attend that will give you the information you need to make the change. The clinic you choose is determined by your needs assessment.
I have a section in my book, “101 Little Things…” that talks about visiting other staffs. The big clinics are great and your staff should attend one together. I feel, though, that you can gain a lot more individual attention by meeting with a coach on an individual basis for a day or two. Find someone who runs the system that you want to install and ask him if he would be willing to meet with you. Offer him a “clinic fee” to speak with you and your staff. (*NOTE: any of you who are interested in installing the Wing T with the Spread Shotgun Package included, I do clinics AND camps. Just let me know if you’d be interested) By meeting on an individual basis you can ask all the questions you want, watch film together and really soak up all the knowledge this coach can share.
I had a coach from Utah contact me about 4 years ago. He wanted to fly to Virginia and spend a week with me learning as much as he could about our Spread Shotgun Wing T package. We spent 4-5 hours a day for 5 days just talking offense. His family came with him and they did the “tourist thing” to Williamsburg and DC while we talked football each day. Everybody had a great visit.
When you get back from your clinic it’s time to go to work. As I mention in the book, head coaches have to “coach the coaches.” Your assistants have to be as clear about how to teach the offense, at least their position(s), as you are. That is a KEY TO SUCCESS!!! Now… get to work on those game films!
Thanks to LF for his input on this one!
God bless you and Merry CHRISTmas
Lew

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