Don't Watch Your Game, Coach It!!!

Had a great time back home on Long Island doing a clinic for my High School, Valley Stream Central.  The best part of the clinic for me was finding out I needed to take a closer look at some of the things we do in our program.  My goal for the clinic this year was to discuss the "operating procedure" of the offense as much as the literal X's and O's of the offense.  It's so easy sometimes to just get caught up in the X's and O's and draw up a million new plays.  Unfortunately it's not always new plays that turn your offense around.  More often than not it's the execution of the plays and the structure of practices that determine the success of the scheme.

After several discussions with their coaching staff about what we thought the problems were last season, and what we thought the answers were, we decided to take another look at game film from last season.  This time though, I tried to focus on how defenses were playing them set by set in games to determine what sets were better for them and if there were any tendencies.  Their original concern was that every defense seemed to be overplaying the jet sweep and that they did not have any answers last season.  After reviewing a bunch of games we came to the conclusion that teams were overplaying the jet in some formations but not others. What I found out while talking to the staff was that most guys got consumed with the point of attack and the ball carrier.  I immediately started thinking to myself that we probably have the same problem, and that the answer would be assigning assistant coaches "jobs" on game day.  When I say jobs what I mean is individual keys for the coaches to look for so they can establish the problems on game days and then find the appropriate answers in that 2 hour game window.

I have never been a "series" or "sequence" coach in terms of calling offensive plays.  I know there are some offensive systems where the play calling is almost dictated directly by which defenders are making plays.  Now I do realize that almost all offensive coordinators are doing this to an extent, but some do it exclusively and the play calls are verbatim off the sequence or series of plays run and who made the tackle.  The thing that I do appreciate about that is the offensive coordinator feels like he has answers in game for the problems that are occurring.  More importantly I think the staff now has defined roles to identify the problems during the game and they don"t just watch the game.  Let's be realistic here, there can never be an appropriate solution until you fully understand the problem.  How many times have you watched film after a game only to realize the problem is different than what you thought you saw live?  It happens to me all the time and I stare at that film and think, How dumb am I?  By assigning your staff to watch individual segments of the game you can get a better chain of communication that makes it easier to identify and then solve problems in games which is all that really matters.

Doing clinics with other staffs is a great way to reevaluate what you are actually doing with your own program.  Coaching should stay a fraternity, and the constant sharing of ideas only makes our kids get better.  Regardless of all the hype and talk of winning championships, preserving this great game that had a huge impact on our lives while helping mold the future fathers, husbands,  and leaders of our country should be our main priority.


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