As coaches, we always want to make sure our best people are on the field at the correct time. Personally, I also want to make sure, as much as possible, that these decisions are based on good data and accurate information… that personalities and biases are not included in the equation.
To help insure this, when I was at the University of Central Missouri, we started a procedure to that end… a Player Ranking system.
Here is how it worked.
Immediately after every practice each position group coach would rank every player in their position group, assigning them a number (if you had 10 players in your position group then 1-10) based on their performance at that practice. I always tried to mentally go through each period and recall how each individual did… both good and bad for each period… and then assign the ranking after that thought process.
The important part of this, which we stressed to our players, was that the practice ranking was for their performance at that practice only.
It was not an indication of…
- how good a player they were
- who the starters were
- what we thought they were capable of
- how we thought they practiced yesterday
- if we “liked” them
- their potential
- how they did at the end of practice
It was based on that practice … that entire practice… only.
As defensive coordinator, I collected all of the coach’s rankings and entered them on a spreadsheet. We sorted each position group by the rankings for that day, printed and posted them in our team room. We also had a column for their average ranking each week.
This process, tedious as it could be during double day practices in August, gave us some valuable information, and forced our coaches and players to be more accountable on a daily basis.
The players knew they were going to get ranked, and their rank was based on the entire practice… period by period… and those rankings would be printed and displayed.
The coaches, too, knew that their position group rankings would be displayed… and that they must be able to discuss the “whys” … the specifics… with their players.
As coaches by noting any variance in our player’s weekly average, we could see and spot (hopefully early) any trends that were developing and address them.
And, of course, it also became a valuable tool to fall back on when setting our weekly depth chart. We had very few discussions when the depth chart was posted as to players positions on the chart… there were few surprises.
This process was independent and separate from our film grading (see post – Film Grading Tool) procedures which we used during game and scrimmage situations.
Here is a sample player-ranking template for the Linebacker defensive position group at Anytown High School… made up names, but this is pretty much what it looked like in the day.
You can download the template by clicking this link – Player Ranking Template.
Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org