Monday, December 14, 2015

Concussion Movie & Coaching Ethos

There is no bigger issue the sport of football is facing today than the cloud of anxiety associated with long-term affects of head trauma. We have addressed this previously, but not to the extent we will be exposed today. This season we are presented with a social impetus that will move this issue into the minds of a wider audience than just football players and coaches. The movie, Concussion, amplifies the wake started with HBO's "Head Games" (2010) and Frontline's "League of Denial" (2013) with narratives too strong to ignore. The movie is a profitable venue because it is something on everyone's mind; everyone wants to learn more about this issue. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Periodization Off-Season Conditioning

Now is the time of year that most programs are just now getting over the siege of the 2015 season.  Kids and coaches are on break and August 2016 is an eternity away.  Most program's approach strength and conditioning in January the same as they do in July.  This off-season, I would encourage you and your staff to sit down and assess how you wish to develop your athletes this off-season to have them primed for competition in game 1.

Below is a sample of a program we built a decade ago with this approach in mind. The goal was to reset our athletes to square one after the semester break.  While we use a maintenance lifting routine during the season , it is difficult to achieve gains during the season.  Therefore, we go back to the basics for core development as well as serving as a great teaching time for our incoming freshmen and underclassmen. 

When you look at the season from January until August, you have quite a bit of time to nurture athletes and work off a foundation of movements.  We structured our 32-week off-season conditioning as a 4 day week broken into 4 phases.  The goal here was to set aside enough time to lay a foundation of proper technique and foster team building in the weight room that would build the core of our team in the fall. During the early phases, we brought in outside instructors, spending a good portion of our time encouraging and involving underclassmen.  This program was built to be progressively challenging while being dynamic enough to change exercises from week to week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Coaching the 2-Gap Nose

Even or Odd, that is the question.  With more and more defenses opting into basing out of an odd front, I figured I would pass on some notes of my experiences from a true 3-4 defense.  We've touched on this before, but I believe the true multiple defense of today's game is consists of just 2 interior tackles, 1 defensive end and then 1 hybrid 'tweener' or undersized end/speed rusher.  You can get by with these type of players to get into whatever front you need.  Many defenses base out of these odd personnel groups, but are actually playing an even defense, in the traditional sense. These defenses may play a zero technique, but only require this player to control 1 gap.  In addition, they may cover both guards (2i or 3 tech) and control 2-gaps on a read, but aren't actually using a 2-gap technique. 
There isn't much out there on coaching up the zero technique.  The only thing I've seen addressing this is the Mike Fanoga's "Developing 2-gap Linemen For The 3-4 Defense" video and I don't know that anyone has garnered anything of value off it.  The video just reviews basic DL drills and Coach Fanoga mumbling through unorganized cutups of his teams with no meaningful coaching points. In this installment, I would like to provide my thoughts on coaching a 2-gap zero technique in an odd front.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Coup d'œil

Inspired by the insightful post of Alex Kirby at Life After Football , I wanted to offer feedback on this same process with an emphasis on developing a routine for interpreting live football broadcasts. The method I'll outline is one that I've used for years while being in the box for gameday communication.

What we'll outline here is how to assess the next play that is going to be run before that play starts.  The beauty here is this is a skill you can hone with hundreds of reps at your leisure. Likely, you will already be watching 12 hours of football each weekend that you can practice with.  Let's assume you watch 3 or 4 football games in a weekend. That translates to roughly 450 - 500 repetitions to train your brain with instant feedback to develop this skill. This allows you to stay engaged with any broadcast, playing this game (within a game broadcast) but also developing a skillset invaluable to football coordinating.  Watching games dispassionately, just focusing on formations and areas of the field,  allows you to develop an intelligence towards predicting outcomes.  Naturally, the type of plays called will depend on the play-caller, but those become exceptions to the rule.  The more you exercise this technique, the more scenarios you will have to draw from because you will receive instant feedback once the play is run (were you right or wrong? What did you learn from your hypothesis?).

When all is said and done, it really is the commander's coup d'œil, his ability to see things simply, to identify the whole business of war completely with himself, that is the essence of good generalship. Only if the mind works in this comprehensive fashion can it achieve the freedom it needs to dominate events and not be dominated by them. -Carl von Clausewitz 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Nuff Said

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Overcoming the Advantage of Run-Pass Option Offenses

Much has been made of the advancements of offenses in this 'modern age' of football.  There are endless articles on these new spread plays, but what of the defense? What can a defense do to not only adapt but limit the seemingly endless advantages of these offenses?  

Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 Offensive Trends

In the past few seasons, we’ve seen spread offenses evolving at a quicker pace using no-huddle quick tempo, run-pass options, and nontraditional personnel groupings (for a spread offense) to befuddle defenses and tip the scales in their favor.  Defensive coordinators have been challenged to keep up with these attacks and adapt their own philosophies to the changing times.

Even with this advantage, some offenses are doing their best to push the envelope even further to remain on the bleeding edge of efficiency.  Many teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Ohio State Buckeyes, Baylor Bears and the Cal Bears are leading this charge.

This season, we will explore these variations, the challenges they present, and what defenses can do to swing momentum back in their court (next post).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pass Rushing Coaching Points

Coach Ron Roberts and staff have been busy beefing up their website offerings of late.  Be sure to check out their latest perspective of how to teach a dangerous pass rush

1. Pass Rush
2. Set Line Principle
3. Edge Rush
4. Power Rush

Also, their video selection has been improved...there is a Demarcus Ware hand fighting training video (for pass rush) that is worth checking out.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Art of Smart Football

With The Essential Smartfootball, it was satisfying to see Brown's selection compiled and presented to a larger audience. This time around, The Art of Smart Football, takes many of Brown's contributions from his blog, Yahoo Sports and Grantland and presents them as he typically does, with a welcoming dialogue of mature reflection and clear analysis.  The content of this book is a complete package of contemporary football trends to afford the fair-weather fan to seasoned coach a competent perspective to fully appreciate what you'll see on the field this season.

As we explored when assessing his last book, Brown is the pacesetter of intellectual football discourse today.  There is no reason sports analysts should continue in the morass of the old media storylines (dumbing down what is delivered to their audience), when Brown has been showing how it can be done without losing the reader's interest.  The book is not heavy on football jargon or diagrams (though there are some great illustrations), so it is an easy read that one can digest quickly or casually pick up at their leisure.  This would be a great read in the coming weeks as everything he covers here, will be the narrative every weekend from the college to pro level.

There's no reason you shouldn't have this offering in your library.  Grab it at Amazon today....the electronic version (Kindle app for mobile) is as easy as it gets.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sideline Technology: Leg Up Analytics

Even before the NFHS rules changed allow electronic communication devices on the sideline, coaches knew there were real-time tools they wish they could have to a competitive edge to help manage their gameplan.  Now that this restriction has been lifted, it begs the question, "what is really needed and which product can deliver it consistently?".

If you're doing your job correctly through the week, you know exactly how you intend the game to play out on Friday night.  Whether or not you can assess if it is going according to plan before the clock runs out is the insight all staffs strive for.  For years before electronic devices, we would rely on a slew of clipboards charting plays, tallying stats, and tracking performance.  It usually wasn't until halftime that you could get out your slide rule, run the numbers and come to any meaningful data to figure out what needed to be changed or identify what isn't going right.

Recently, I was made aware of a product that does everything I was doing in the booth and on the sideline in one little platform.....AND it packages all the calculations into a clear dashboard.  What's cool is this can take all your real-time data and import it into your HUDL account, saving your staff hours of game breakdown on the weekend.  Check this out

Below is a guest post from Anthony Blake, CEO of LegUP Analytics detailing this extremely helpful product.

To steal a line from my Pastor, I am peacock-proud to introduce and announce the next iteration of the LegUP product line, Prime. Prime is the culmination of 9 months of customer visits, strategy sessions, design reviews, bug fixes, influencer meetings and other activities by the members of the LegUP team. We’ve toiled over run-pass options, play calling methodologies, football rule books and more, all in the name of building not only a great product, but a great experience for all of LegUP’s customers and other stakeholders. 

Like many startups, we were our first customer. LegUP was formed to find a solution to a problem that we faced under the lights on Friday nights in the fall – the lack of reliable intel in the midst of a live football game. We had our pencils and stacks of paper for recording positive plays or managing substitutions. And sure, we spent hours before and after each game pouring over the numbers on our and our opponent’s prior performances. But that stuff is insufficient in the 3rd quarter when our opponent deviates from what we believe to be their tendencies. Or our go-to plays aren’t so potent. 

LegUP Prime provides coaches and players with useful insights during real, live games to help them improve the performance of their team. Those insights are based on data recorded throughout the game about the players, play calls, situations and results of each play. With Prime, decision-makers get immediate, play-by-play feedback on their calls rather than waiting until halftime to confer with the rest of the staff. 

Prime is our second product. Our first, dubbed The Basics, launched in October of last year. It played an invaluable role in our market by proving we could chart football games with an iPad rather than pencil & paper. With Prime we’re pushing the envelope further by providing teams with the first instance of real-time performance analytics. 

 We started LegUP to improve the quality, safety, and understanding of sports – starting with amateur football. Prime will become available on the Apple App Store in early August and we'll continue to share more about Prime on our website at I look forward to hearing how LegUP Prime helps teams elevate their game day performance. 

Anthony Blake 
CEO of LegUP Analytics

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dealing With Parents: Jim Harshaw

Jim Harshaw dealing successfully with sports parentsGuest post by Jim Harshaw

Surveys show that dealing with parents is one of the top most time consuming and frustrating tasks that coaches deal with on a regular basis. 

Having coached for 15 years from youth through Division I, I've spent countless hours researching best practices on dealing with parents. I've read books and blogs, listened to audio podcasts and talked with dozens of coaches about it. Here's what I've found: it all boils down to communication and education. 

While these are simple concepts here are some practical solutions that you can use right away. 
  1. Let Them Talk: Many parents just want to be heard and by letting them talk without interruption you satisfy that need. Acknowledge that you've heard them and will consider their point of view and move on with your day. 
  2. Admit When You're Wrong: We all make mistakes. When we see a public figure make a mistake and try to explain it away or cover it up, we lose respect and end up talking poorly about them and even trying to undermine their authority. When they apologize and face the issue head-on, we are far more willing to give them slack and a second chance. It's the same with you. 
  3. How to Be a Sports Parent: Parents react with emotion instead of logic because they never took a class on how to be a good sports parents. It's your job to teach them things like how to be supportive at home, what kind of nutrition they should be providing and what kind of feedback is actually helpful for you. It will not only minimize the issues you have to deal with but also maximize the performance of your athletes.  
Get many more tips and tactics as well as worksheets and templates in the Dealing Successfully with Sports Parents ebook. Access to this proactive guide will help you spend less time reacting to criticism, responding to emails and looking over your shoulder... and more time coaching. Download it here instantly. 

This is a guest post by Jim Harshaw. In addition to learning how to deal successfully with parents as a youth, high school and college coach, Jim Harshaw learned many life lessons on the wrestling mat. He was a 3X ACC Champion for the University of Virginia, trained at the Olympic Training Center and competed overseas for Team USA. He lives in Charlottesville, Va with this wife Allison and four children.