Becoming a “Stronger” Coach in the Off-Season

As coaches, we stress to our athletes the importance of the off-season to make individual and team improvements.  We have a fairly large block of time (several months) and we teach if they use that time well, they will see great gains.

The off-season is also an important time for growth as a coach. While I was at the University of Central Missouri, our staff would schedule a learning trip each spring to visit colleagues on other College or NFL staffs.  In order to efficiently use our time on these junkets, I always wanted to have some very specific topics to investigate, rather than just going and “talking football”.

Each winter, our staff completed the following three-step process; End of Season Self-Scout, an End of Season Efficiency Analysis and The “Lowlight” Analysis.  Completing these tasks gave us the data on what we needed to focus on during the off-season, which ultimately made us better, more efficient coaches.

End of Season Self-Scout

During the season, as each game was played, we broke down every defensive scrimmage play by down, distance, field zone, first level (DL) stunt, second level stunt and coverage.  At the end of the season we compiled all of the data to determine if we had any glaring tendencies based on down and distance or field zone.

End of Season Efficiency Analysis
def statsUsing the same breakdown data, we analyzed how efficient we were in each area.  We calculated average yard per play for each down (1-4) and distance (S,M,L,XL) combination.  We did the same for every front, stunt, and coverage we ran, as well.  From this we could calculate, for instance, the percentage of times we were successful on first down (under 4 yards) and what front, stunt, coverage combinations we were using.  We could readily see which of our fronts (and stunts and coverages) we were having the most success with, and which ones there may be problems with.


The “Lowlight” Analysis

The third annual analysis entailed examining all of our “bust” plays.  We made a “cutup” of every running play that gained over 10 yards and another for passing plays that gained over 15 yards.  In the era of Hudl and web based video editing this can be accomplished in a snap.  When we first started this process at the University of Central Missouri, we were literally “cutting up” 16mm film and splicing together all of these clips.  It was quite a process and involved about a weeks work just making the film.

Once the video was compiled, we would go through and analyze every play to determine what was the main cause (or causes) for the play to “bust”.  We assigned causes to general categories such as alignment, assignment, missed tackle, bad call (by me), poor angle, pad level, lack of effort, etc..  The tallied results gave us an immediate area of emphasis going into the next season.  We also analyzed the “bust” video based on front, stunt, coverage, and down and distance.

At the end of this three-step process, we usually had a pretty clear picture of our priorities for the upcoming spring (or fall) practices.  It also gave us as individual coaches, areas of improvement we needed to make going into the next season.  Along with the physical and mental improvements we are asking our athletes to make in the off-season, we also expected concurrent improvements in our coaching and teaching methods.

Thanks to for featuring this post in their Coach’s Corner column today!

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Jeff Floyd –

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