Running an Effective Drill

ucmoIn my first season as a coach at the University of Central Missouri, during one of our first staff meetings, our Head Coach, Terry Noland gave us some advice.  His instructions regarding how to effectively run a drill were not only good advice to a young coach with eight years experience (me), but lasting concepts that have served me well for over thirty years.

  1. Have a name for the drill – that way when you run it successive times, you don’t need to spend as much time explaining it.
  2. Teach the athletes what technique(s) you are trying to improve with the drill.
  3. Have the drill set up prior to the athletes arriving at your station.
  4. Have an organized progression as to how the athletes move through the drill – for example “the first person in line will be the ball carrier.  You will go from being the ball carrier, to tackler, to the end of the line.
  5. Don’t be a part of the drill – Coach!
  6. Give the athletes specific instructions regarding the speed of the drill – Is it full speed, ½ speed, or walk through.
  7. Give the athletes a specific start point for the drill.
  8. Give the athletes a specific end point for the drill.

These are simple concepts that make for effective daily teaching.

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Advertisements

Well Coached

Well Coached…

What does a well-coached team look like?

  • Few mental errors or penalties…
  • Good clock management…
  • The players are in shape…
  • Good knowledge and execution of their offensive and defensive systems…
  • Solid kicking game…
  • Great fundamentals…

Doing all the “little things” needed to be successful.

You would assume that all SEC teams, especially two that were both ranked in the top 5 in the country would be equally “well-coached”.

Well not so fast.

A couple of weeks ago Alabama (1) played Texas A & M (5)… a game which featured these two top ranked teams… Alabama ended up cruising to a 33-14 victory.

It is my contention that while both teams’ rosters are filled with great athletes, only one of these teams was truly well-coached… only one of these teams did all the “little things” needed to be successful.

In a clip from the show SEC Film Room, Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson discusses how they picked up several “tells” from the A & M offensive line… specifically how their offensive tackle’s stance gave away if the play was a run or pass. (Thanks to Coach Cooper – @GorillaMyscles for helping me locate this clip)

run-pass

This is basic stuff.

Maybe it is no wonder that A & M lost three straight games after this.

And guess what Alabama Coach Nick Saban said his team was going to focus on during the bye week following their defeat of Texas A & M?

  • Attention to detail…
  • Fixing some “little things”…
  • Fundamentals….

Needless to say, Alabama is a well-coached football team.

Related Posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Be Prepared

It is always a joy watching teams that are well prepared… that never seem flustered… that seem to expect the unexpected.

It is a joy watching teams that are well coached.

I know most football coaches use a script for their Thursday (day before contest) practice to “rehearse” kicking game situations. We, too, used a script for our final practice, but expanded its use cover more “unexpected” situations outside the special teams.

script-jpeg

You can download the Excel file of the script we used here (Thursday practice script) but equally as important as the script itself is how we used it in teaching and preparing our athletes.

Here are some basic tenets that we employed in our Thursday practice script:

We tried to keep everyone involved both physically and mentally.

You can see in the script sequence there are times when JV and Scout team players are actively participating in situations. In addition, the athletes know that for each segment we will call out for at least one substitute… so they ALL have to be on their toes.

We wanted to keep all our coaches involved.

Our coaches should be coaching. Everyone has a function during this script… if they are normally on the field during the game, they will be in their same locations doing their same duties (i.e. “get back” coach). If they are normally in the pressbox, they will have assigned duties during the scripted scenarios (i.e. spotting the ball during 2 minute drill). Nothing undermines the importance of this practice like some of your coaches standing by the side and talking about their evening plans!

We wanted our athletes to understand the situations.

We used our Thursday script to make sure that our athletes understood personnel, alignment and assignment for each of these situations, but also the “why”, the strategy and philosophy that corresponded to each of these scenarios. For example, when and why might we want to take a safety during the course of a game, what can we expect in sudden change situations, what is our thinking offensively when we are “backed up”?

We want the practice to be “crisp”.

Each week, we kept the routine (and the script sequence) the same… including how each group huddled prior to entering the field, where each position group would stand during the game, how we would communicate, and coach’s assignments. We had already spent practice time during the week working on specific technique and assignments… this should be a refresher.

The first few weeks, we would spend more time explaining the concepts behind each of these scenarios, but as the season progressed we were able to be more succinct.

We had weekly “reminders” for each scenario.

For each special team, and special situation we would interject a reminder (or two) based on our scouting report for that week. If we knew the opponent had a particular strength (or weakness) it gave us one more time to emphasize that point prior to the game.

We used the script to continue teaching the kicking game.

It gave us an opportunity to quickly reinforce concepts like alignment, assignment, angles, and technique used in each phase of the kicking game. Although we did not use the time for in-depth coaching (as I mentioned we wanted to keep the practice crisp) it gave our athletes another opportunity to hear our “catch phrases” in each special team segment… phrases like “cone to the football”, “lane integrity”, “hay bail them” or “2-gap them”.

The bottom line is, we wanted our athletes to be prepared… in ALL situations. This was one tool we used to put a capstone on our weekly prep.

I hope this effectively communicated how/ why we used this script as part of our Thursday game prep practice. If you have any questions over this (or any other post) please shoot me an email or message me…. I WILL reply.

Good luck to all of the coaches this week as you enter the halfway point (how is that possible!) of the season.

Related posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Medicine Ball Workout

At least once a month, on our training days outside of the weight room, we do a medicine ball workout.

Last week during the #ironchat (a strength and conditioning chat held on twitter Thursday evenings) I mentioned this workout. A few colleagues were asking about what we do (and video) so this is the expanded version… one drawback to the #chat format is depth of detail is at times difficult with 140 character limitation.

We workout in pairs, using one medicine ball per pair.   The athletes choose a ball between 5 and 10 pounds, dependent on their strength level.

I want the athletes to understand that this workout is NOT about doing a lot of weight, or even doing a lot of reps… we do that on other training days. The most “weight” anyone will be lifting (in addition to their body weight) is 10 pounds, and the most reps we do on any one drill are 10 reps.

This workout IS about:

  • Balance
  • Posture
  • Flexibility and
  • Doing all the “Little Things” right

We do 13 different drills in the workout, typically doing 10 reps for each drill. On drills that the athletes do 10 consecutive reps by themselves (not passing the ball between the partners) we ask the athlete not active to “coach” their partners…. letting them know if they are doing it well, and fixing any technique flaws that they see.  It is also another way of checking for understanding with your students.

Here are the 13 drills we do, the order that we complete the drills, and the “little things” …the coaching points… for each drill.

Lunge with a twist – Across basketball court

  • Sink hips
  • Keep shoulders back
  • Keep arms extended and parallel to the ground

Figure 8 – 20 passes

  • Back to back about 3 ft apart
  • Feet “in concrete” stationary – do not even pivot
  • Hand the ball (do not toss) with two hands to partner
  • Ball should make a figure 8 pattern, crossing between partners

Sit ups – 10 each

  • Feet 2-3 feet apart
  • Extend ball above head
  • Sit up with ball and body moving in the same plane
  • Toss ball to partner who extends ball above head, goes down and touches ball to ground, trying to keep ball and body in the same plane

Vertical Chest Pass – 10 each

  • Partner drops ball from about eye level
  • Partner on back extends arms
  • When ball touches hands, collapse arms to chest
  • Immediately “punch” ball as high as you can
  • No pause at top when ball touches hands or at the bottom at chest

Overhead Squat – 10 each

  • Low and Slow
  • Arms extended above head
  • Perfect squat technique – Head up, shoulders back, feet flat
  • Partner not active in the drill will “coach”

Front Squat – 10 each

  • Low and Slow
  • Arms extended an parallel with ground
  • Perfect squat technique – Head up, shoulders back, feet flat
  • Partner not active in the drill will “coach”

Squat Pass – 10 passes each

  • Both partners in perfect squat position through all 10 passes
  • Two handed pass to partner
  • Remain stable and balanced – arms only body part moving

Squat Jump – 10 each

  • Seat ball in chest
  • Lower to full squat position
  • Explode, maximum effort, feet off the floor
  • Reset base after each jump
  • Partner not active in the drill will “coach”

Overhead Pass – 10 each

  • No step or upper body sway
  • Extend ball above head with elbows by ears
  • Dip ball behind head and execute 2 handed pass to partner
  • Try to isolate triceps
  • Remain stable and balanced – forearms only body part moving

Slam Pass – 10 each

  • Step with slam ball into ground about 2/3 way to partner
  • 5 throws stepping with right foot, 5 with left

Squat Put – 10 each

  • Execute perfect full squat
  • From the squat position explode off ground – 2 hand push for height and distance
  • Keep shoulders back – Don’t bend at the waist

Squat Toss (Front) – 10 each

  •      Extend ball in front
  •      Arms parallel to ground
  •      From the squat position explode off ground – tossing ball for height and distance
  •      Keep shoulders back – Don’t bend at waist
  •      Throw the ball with your legs

Squat Toss (Back) – 10 each

  •        Back to partner
  •        Extend ball in front
  •        Arms parallel to ground
  •        On command – from the squat position explode off ground – tossing ball for height and distance
  •        Keep shoulders back – Don’t bend at waist
  •        Throw the ball with your legs

I would encourage you to check out the Twitter #ironchat on Thursday nights.  An explanation of how the Twitter chats (#chats) works can be found in this post… #TXHSFBCHAT… The Fastest 60 Minutes on the Internet

Related Posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Drill, Drill, Drill

The Internet…

You can have your own personal clinic every day.

Earlier this week an online call came from Lee Weber (CSIC and head football coach at Wamego High School, KS) asking coaches to send in their favorite drills so he can compile a “best of” Twitter #fbchat drill guide.

I have become a virtual colleague of coach Weber via Twitter and the various football coaching chats (see post #TXHSFBCHAT… the Fastest 60 Minutes on the Internet) that take place weekly online.

I immediately responded to his collaboration call, and in the process realized that, although I have written many posts regarding football drills, and detailed many of my favorites, they were spread over a time period of three years and nearly 400 posts… not the easiest navigation to find some good ball drills.

Here is a compilation of articles I have written about drills including philosophy, terminology and diagrams… hopefully a little easier for you to navigate.

step-over-dummy-0811Please consider sending one of your favorite drills to Coach Weber (gcwarrior@gmail.com) for inclusion in his drill guide. As you can see from my drills, they were all learned from colleagues in our profession that were willing to share.

The coaching profession benefits when we collaborate.

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

A Master Craftsman

Another (quick) toolbox analogy…

As I have chronicled, my son and daughter-in-law have been involved in a project (50/50) over the past year.

During that span of time they have borrowed numerous tools…

  • Drill bits…
  • Jig saw…
  • Extension cords…
  • Socket set…
  • Saw blades…

No problem… I have accumulated (as most do) many tools in my toolbox throughout the years.

I have to admit it was with a degree of hubris that I brandished my overflowing toolbox and tubs of nuts, bolts, and hardware at the work site.

Hubris, that is, until, a former player of mine (a REALLY good former player of mine) volunteered to help with the project.   This man is a professional… he works construction… he is a master craftsman.

He came and in one evening did work that it would have taken us days to finish.

He had more tools on his tool belt than I have in my toolbox.   He had all the right tools…. specialty tools for this specific job… and all the tricks of the trade that he had accumulated over the years.

As a young, hungry, coach, you are always on the lookout to borrow tools that will help you do your job better… to be a better coach.

But even the old grizzled coach can learn from a professional… can find a new tool or trick that might help … as long as you don’t allow your pride (or habits) to get in the way.

Here are links to tools that have helped me be a more efficient, more organized, better prepared coach over the years. Young coach or veteran, I hope you find something of interest.

stringout

Thanks to Joe Grubb for the inspiration behind this post… and thanks to him for helping at the 50/50 project.

The ties that bind Joe, and the special group of men from my UCM days, is a story for another day.

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Saving Our Sport

Let me preface this by saying I love football.

I loved playing football.

I love coaching football.

I love practicing football… did as a player… do as a coach.

But…. I am truly worried about the future of our sport… for a number of reasons. As I wrote about last year (History Lesson) our game is under siege… and the battle has not lessened over the past year.

  • Concussions…
  • Decreasing numbers of participants…
  • Bad behavior (leading to bad press) by student/ professional athletes…

Here are some things to think about.

I can’t believe I am saying this… and it may be considered blasphemous, but I will just go ahead and get this out first. The 25 summer contact days allowed in our state (Missouri) is too much. By judiciously using the days, combining them with summer strength and conditioning days (which don’t count for your 25) a coach can effectively add three months to football “season”.

We are talking about a season… with pads… and practice… and scrimmages… and contact… that now lasts nearly seven months!

I think it is too much for the players, too much for parents, and too much for the coaches …who often don’t get paid any additional stipend for their summer work.

When you multiply that summer commitment required by students and their families for players who are multi sport athletes, it becomes an even crazier schedule… especially in those schools where each sport uses all of their 25 contact days.

We tell our athletes that we want them to be multi-sport athletes, but this model makes it nearly impossible.

On the same subject (25 summer contact days) let me just say that the MSHSAA required acclimatization period (first three days of practice helmets only) is obsolete. Our kids can practice nearly all summer with pads, but then when practice “officially” starts they have to go back to helmets only… it makes no sense.

safe footballThe emphasis on concussions and head injuries increases daily.   It is a hot-button issue at all levels. It is changing the nature of our sport, and we as coaches will need to adapt our coaching and teaching styles.

I am not sure what the best solutions are for this problem, but here are some thoughts…

First, I think that we, as coaches, need to be more proactive regarding these issues….

We need to effectively communicate to parents, administrators, community, and media:

  1. The value of our sport, football, and how we teach life lessons, character, healthy lifestyle, and leadership to our student-athletes. We teach more than X’s and O’s. If you have not seen them, here are a couple of excellent pieces by John Harbaugh of the Ravens and Chris Creighton, head coach at Eastern Michigan.
  1. We care about the safety of our athletes. We teach how to play the game safely. We are trained to recognize the symptoms of concussion and head injuries, and we will not put your child at risk.
  1. We have the best equipment. We recondition and recertify our equipment each year and replace when needed.

I think the tough, challenging, part of this situation is how to strike a balance between teaching what needs to be taught before you line up and play Friday night, and how to keep your athletes as safe as possible

Football is a physical game… that is part of what makes it a great sport. Your players have to know how to tackle, block, hit, and be hit, in order to play safely and play well. It may take some out-of-the-box thinking and ideas to teach them these skills and give them enough reps and time to be successful on Friday night.   I wrote about some ideas in these posts, Adaptation, and The Highest Quality Mental Reps.

I don’t have the answers, but I know collectively as a group… we as coaches will find the answers in order to keep our sport healthy and strong.

Thanks to PrepsKC.com for featuring this post (and my posts weekly during the season) on their site.  If you get a chance, check them out for great content regarding football in the Metro KC area!

Good luck to everyone this season, I am looking forward to watching your teams compete!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Back to Basics

About this time of the season, amid all of the game planning and scheming, I always like to remind myself to get “back to basics”… basics in regards to fundamentals, coaching technique, and philosophy.

In our last contest, there were several things that I was not happy with on the defensive side…. Our angles to the ball, getting off blocks, and tackling technique were not very good. I realized that our poor play was my fault; I was not teaching these concepts very well.

I also thought about a tweet that I read recently… “Instead of yelling at your players for what they are doing wrong, TEACH them how to do it correctly”

This week I went back to a drill that we used at the beginning of every practice when I was defensive coordinator at the University of Central Missouri. The drill is called String Out Tackle, and it was a staple at our practices when we were one of the top defenses in the nation. We got the drill during one of our spring trips to Oklahoma State University. They used the drill when Bill Miller was their defensive coordinator.

stringout

String Out Tackle teaches most of the concepts that we are currently struggling with as a defensive unit. It is a simple drill that quickly allows all the players to get multiple reps… I should have been running the drill all season! You can download a copy of the drill at this link: String Out Tackle download.

I am confident that our extra work on this basic, fundamental area, will translate to better defensive performance this week.

Is there something basic to your team’s performance that you can put an emphasis on at this point in the season? Are you staying true to your philosophy? Is there a fundamental that you can teach better?

Now is the time.

Related Posts:

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Adaptation

I never wanted to be one of those “old” coaches that was always saying…

Well, back in my day we…..  “ ,  fill in the blank.

But, the game HAS changed.  Recent rule changes, and discussions at all levels from Pop Warner to the NFL regarding contact, concussions, and practice restrictions have made it necessary for coaches to adapt.  Outcomes of pending lawsuits in the NFL regarding concussions and head injuries will trickle down to all levels of play.  I am not saying these discussions and rule changes are bad, but as coaches we may need to change some of our “time worn” ways of doing things.

To all of us, the safety of our players is paramount.  Most of us took the “head” out of our tackling vernacular years ago.  We must continue to teach safe tackling.  But, here is the rub… the conflict… the thin line we have to walk.  We ALL want to teach safe tackling, but we also ALL want to teach effective tackling.  There is a physical nature to the game that we have to prepare for.  We have the responsibility to prepare our athletes, mentally and physically, for the games they will be playing in on Friday nights.  If we have no contact (or the 5 minutes a day the players in the NFL will be getting) will our players be ready for the full speed, physical action on Fridays.

It will be up to us to become even better teachers, and even more efficient with our practice time (see a previous post, Practice, Not a Minute to Spare).  It will be up to us as coaches to come up with new ways to practice and prepare our athletes physically and mentally.  I will share one idea that we have used for years to help our athletes get quality “mental reps” during the week.

This works best in a large area with an overhead projector.  Often on a Thursday, if we wanted to limit the physical part of practice (during a collegiate work week) we would assemble our defense in a meeting room or on the auditorium stage.  We would arrange 11 desks (or chairs) facing the screen, roughly in our defensive alignment… 4 desks up front for the DL, 3 behind those for the LB’s, and 2 desks outside for the corners, and 2 behind for the safeties.

endzone

Our defensive starters would take their place in their respective desks, and we would roll video off a script of our opponent’s offense.  We would signal in the front/ stunt/ coverage call we wanted to run, the LB’s would make the call, and everyone would communicate just as they would during an actual play… “Tight” (run strength) call, Down and Distance tendencies, formation checks, etc.  As the play on the screen developed, they would mentally play the play, defeating the block, reading their key, mentally pursuing to the ball carrier, and talking through routes.  We would “play” a series or two, and then sub players into the chairs.  Everyone not in the 11 desks would be in the back getting a mental rep.

We would try to make this as “lifelike” as possible…  similar to the concepts of mental visualization (refer to post, Mental Visualization). We use calls that will be on the call sheet for that week, and communicate down and distance every play.  A large screen with an endzone shot is ideal.  It almost becomes like your players are in a video game, or one of those golf simulators.  We have even done this same thing with no desks or chairs with the athletes standing in their respective positions.  I really believe this type of interactive teaching could be used daily with your scout script to prepare you athletes for practice.  I discussed this, and the concept of “flipped coaching” in a previous post on my blog, Defensive Game Planning – Flipped Coaching.

There is an excellent article on CoachBook detailing Coach John Gagliardi’s approach at St. John’s University, at this link:  Winning With Limited Contact in Practice.  

This will be an ongoing situation we will need to deal with in our changing sport… adequately preparing our athletes, physically and mentally for our weekly contests.  The coaches that are good at adapting and creative in their teaching and coaching methods will have an advantage.

Thanks again to PrepsKC, for featuring this post on their site today!

Good luck to you all as head into this exciting time of the year!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Acclimatization

Let me preface this post with these statements: I am a pretty tough cookie.  I am tenacious.  I ran a 5K three months after having my hip replaced.   I tell you this not to brag, but to underscore how difficult the acclimation process is.

I just returned from 10 days in Northern California.  I worked out every day, running 2-4 miles, or walking 3-6 miles.  The terrain is flat, and more importantly, the temperature was in the 70’s with NO humidity.  It felt great – like I could run forever… that I could Do More!

sunI just finished a run at home in downtown Kansas City – my first since returning.  The temperature was not oppressive (in the 70’s) but it IS humid, and the terrain is hilly.  After a mere 1.5 miles, with a hill ahead, and sweating like a P.I.G. my jog turned into a walk.  Sure, some of it was mental, but keep in mind that my perception is my reality.  In my head, if the humidity and hills are killing me physically… then the humidity and hills are killing me physically.

Two things to point out regarding your athletes (and you) as we head into the depths of summer:

  1. Heat (and humidity) Acclimation
  2. Movement Acclimation

Heat Acclimation

Dr. Daniel Lorenz posted a very good article on the PrepsKC site outlining the importance of, and steps to, get acclimated to the summer heat.  It pretty much follows the MSHSAA (and other state High School activity associations as well) protocol for heat acclimation.  It is a physical AND mental acclimation process.  I am preaching to the choir, I know, but the more of your athletes (and coaches) that can be acclimated by the end of summer and the start of practice, the more efficient your actual practice time will be.

Movement Acclimation

I was not ready physically or mentally for the challenge of the hills in my run today.  I had spent nearly two weeks running on flat terrain.  Are your athletes training in the summer doing things that will carry over into your practices?   Are they getting down, and coming out of the stance they will be using?  Are they practicing the movements they will be doing in their position group – backpedaling, shuffling, 3 step drop, pass set, defensive charge? Are they completing explosive movements for a short duration – the length of a football play?  If not, even if they have been working out, when it comes time for practice, they will be smacked in the face like I was in my run today.

Two very good conditioning drills that will help get your football athletes ready: Pattern Runs, and 40 yard dash drill.  I have detailed each in these posts – Two Birds With One Stone, and Great Football Conditioning Test .

The Pattern Run Drill, which we got from the Kansas City Chiefs, is the best football conditioning drill I have ever used.

RB patterns

The diagram above is a sample of the Running Back pattern runs.  The entire workout is explained in the post Two Birds With One Stone.

Questions and comments are always welcomed!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com