Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

One Way OR… BOTH Ways?

Posted by admin September - 15 - 2020 - Tuesday

Friday nights around here in Virginia have just NOT been the same! No high school football till Spring! “Booooooo!”

A coaching friend from West Virginia texted me last Friday and said, “If you’re not doing anything tonight, our game is going to be live streamed. I’d love for you to watch it.” I replied, “Heck, yea!!! I’d love to watch your team.” The cool thing is that he is a Wing T guy so watching his offense was really fun for me. I even texted him at halftime with some suggestions from things I saw in the first half. He was nice enough to use them coming out in the 3rd quarter and his offense went right down the field and scored!!! Cool!!!

We talked a while Saturday. I congratulated him on a good win. He appreciated it but was a bit apologetic about the “lack of talent” he has this year. I reassured him that his team looked well-coached. It got me to thinking… how many of his players went both ways on Friday night??? This has been a subject that I have “gone round ‘n round” with coaches over the years.

Some guys swear that “2 platooning is the only way to go, Lew!” I concur… as long as you have a big squad and a LOT of good athletes. Otherwise, I have always held to the philosophy that “if you have a cannon, FIRE it!” In other words, I’m not going to leave an athlete on the bench just so I can say that I 2-platoon my team! The 3 very best players that I ever coached all went both ways. And I’m glad they did!

For those of you who lack numbers overall OR… just have a few (say) quality linemen… I think it is the “smart move” to have them go both ways. Tell them in the preseason that they will be going both ways and that they will need to get themselves physically and mentally ready to go both ways. Most kids liked the challenge.

Early in the season, we set up a rotation where every 3rd or 4th series, the 2-way starter would get a break. I always felt like I needed my best players on the field as much as we could get them out there. Yes, they get tired but… aren’t they supposed to??!!! My best athlete at 90% is still better than his back up who’s only gonna give us 75% production. I don’t recall which great running back it was… maybe Archie Griffin when he was at Ohio State. But they asked him after the game if he was tired since he’d carried the ball over 30 times. His answer was classic! He said, “No. The ball only weighs 13 ounces!!!!!”

You coaches out there with smaller squads— I highly recommend that you build up your best players’ stamina. They have to go both ways. When we did Conditioning— at the beginning of practice, by the way!— the starters ran a couple of more sprints than the back ups. And the 2 way guys ran a couple of more than the 1 way starters. Some grumbled but they appreciated it later in the season when they realized that they were not fatigued.

The best athlete I ever coached played Wingback, Safety, was our Punter, Punt and Kickoff Returner and held for place kicks. I even had him kick off some. He thrived on that amount of work. He loved playing the game and told me once that the more he was on the field, the better “show” he could put on for the fans!!! And he did. All State in high school; All American in college and All Pro in the NFL. He was a competitor and enjoyed competing! I bet your guys will too.

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