Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Platooning Players

Posted by admin January - 20 - 2016 - Wednesday

I was involved in a discussion recently about whether to 2-platoon your players or not. The consensus seemed to be: IF you have a large roster (50-75 players), you should 2 platoon. IF you have a small roster (25-35), you should play players bothways. I disagree!

Regardless of how many players on your roster, I feel that your best players need to be on the field as much as possible. As the old saying goes, “IF you have a cannon, fire it!” Unless you recruit players and can “seed” your roster with the players and positions you need, there are only so many “game-changers” on any high school roster. They can’t be “changing the game” if they’re sitting on the bench!

I talk about this in my book (another shameless plug to check out 101 Little Things if you want a reference book for coaches on how to organize and manage their program) so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. But, we had 2 pretty firm rules about platooning:
1- our Skilled Position athletes need to be on the field as much as possible and 2- our Offensive Line only plays offense!!!

What we strive for in setting up our depth chart is to find ways for skilled players to go “1 1/2 ways!” What I mean is… we want a backup who can give that 2-way player a break (usually on Offense) every 3rd series— especially early in the season when it’s still hot and humid. It builds depth; it gets playing time for a younger player and it gives the skilled player a chance to rest, watch and get rehydrated. I might add that we have no problem with our best athletes playing on kicking teams too. If you want the send the (important) message that Special Teams really are important!— you will play starters on your kicking teams.

As far as those O linemen. Those “big hogs” need more rest. We also tend to go more for size on the O line than we do on the D line. On defense, we want speed! Even our D tackles are oftentimes converted linebackers. We moved a backup LB to DT this fall and the guy was just about UNblockable! He earned 1st team All State honors because of so many TFL’s and Sacks that he made. Let those big linemen rest. We DO bring them in on goal line situations where we want some beef up front but, for the most part, O linemen go one way.

Finally, a limited number of players on your roster may necessitate having more players go both ways. I still think it’s important to get them a break every 3rd series or so. Set up a rotation where, for instance, you don’t have your whole 2nd backfield in at the same time. Getting backups on the field in a judicious manner helps everyone. Kids want to play— not watch! Getting them on the field for limited play gets them more engaged all week. If they know on Monday that they’re going to be participating on Friday night, they’re going to work harder in practice the whole week. We want our players to “invest” in our program… physically and emotionally.

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