The Process is the Key

By the time this post goes live, Missouri High School football squads will already have one game under their belt with most other states following suit this week. For the next 10-15 weeks coaches across the country will be knee deep in the demanding but exciting grind of the high school football season.

As coaches, we have a lot on our plate each week…both on and off the field. One of the biggest time consuming jobs in this process, is of course, game planning…. making sure that we have done everything in our power to insure that we put our athletes in position to be successful offensively and defensively against the upcoming opponent.

My most popular series of posts, by far, are the eleven pieces that detail the game planning process our staff honed while at the University of Central Missouri. Posts in this series have been viewed over 20,000 times. The series was featured on the Washington Post’s Insiders Blog that had this to say:

For anyone who’s ever wondered how a defensive coach assembles a game plan, has a whole series on the thought process behind it. This particular link is to the call sheet, how a coach picks what works against the opponent’s best plays in certain situations each week, and has them handy so he can call his defense in a matter of seconds.

A tool we developed (the Call Sheet) that is included in these posts, has been downloaded nearly 10,000 times. But really, more important than any single tool, spreadsheet, chart… more important than any “magic bullet” you are trying to find… is the PROCESS that we developed and that is outlined in these series of posts.   A data driven… thoughtful… efficient …time tested… PROCESS. A process that you may be able to use “in toto”, or incorporate pieces into what you are currently doing.


Here are brief descriptions and links to each post that will take you through this process.


This post looks at the people and programs that shaped our Defensive Game Planning process at the University of Central Missouri.

Weekly Workflow

The day-to-day sequence of designing and implementing the game plan, including practice plans and scripts is outlined in this post

Film Breakdown and Formation Analysis

How and why particular game film is chosen and the tools we use to analyze an opponents offense

The Ready List

How THE key component of a successful game plan is developed

The Play Grid

How we chart and opposing offense, taking into account down, distance and formation

The Call Sheet

The final product of this process and the tool we use to select our defensive calls on game day

Game Procedures

How we man the press box and sideline, and delegate duties and responsibilities to each coach…. Includes game day chart templates that we use


Questions that have been asked and answered over the years regarding this process

Flipped Coaching

Some ideas on how to “flip” meeting, practice, and study to better utilize time

Defensive Installation Progression

Some considerations and ideas when planning your defensive installation… includes a sample form

All-in-all over a couple dozen charts and videos to help explain the game planning process we developed.

For those of you that have been following my blog (over 400 posts) for the past three years (nearly a quarter million views!), a heartfelt thanks and a couple of requests…

  • If you have found the blog helpful, interesting and/or entertaining… please share with your colleagues…. AND
  • You will notice a new feature on the blog this week… a way to make a monetary donation… A “donate” button in the right panel… if you feel so moved.

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

Jeff Floyd –

Tools and Time

This week I had the opportunity to help out at my daughter-in-law’s project called 50/50.   Her team is putting an art gallery in the West Bottoms of Kansas City made out of shipping containers.

Stay with me…. this isn’t about an art gallery.

Here are some things that came up during my work at the 50/50 project one evening…

  • They commented that “the new Phillips head drill bits made it a lot easier to set the sheet rock screws without stripping them out”.
  • We had a box of long drywall screws, but ran out of the shorter screws (which they preferred using) … so we went around picking up short ones that had been previously dropped on the floor and used them. We ended up having enough to finish what we were working on.
  • We needed a drill bit extension to drill a hole into a tricky spot on a doorframe. We had to stop until we got one.
  • I had to run home and get tin snips to bring to the project site so we could cut the sheet rock corner bead.

Now, this team is doing tremendous work, but it really reminded how much time is saved by having the right tools…. good tools when you are working.

For football coaches, especially during our season, time is at a premium. The amount of hours in the day is same for all of us. Saving hours or minutes using good tools puts more time in your kitty…. time that can be used doing additional football or teaching prep (which is what most of us do!) OR maybe you could sneak in some additional family time.

Over the last three years I have shared a variety of football coaching/ organizational tools (all for free) via my web site, These are tools and procedures that I trust, and have saved me countless hours over the years.

Here are my most popular (using views and downloads as a metric) categories of posts, with a little information about each:

Defensive Game Planning:

sample call sheet

My post, Defensive Game Planning – The Call Sheet, has been viewed over 10,000 times. If you Google “football defensive call sheet” my post is the third one listed, and the second one if you filter it for images. The Call Sheet we developed while I was at the University of Central Missouri is a great tool… but even more important than the single tool was the process we used for game planning.

Those procedures and ALL the tools we used can be found at this link – Defensive Game Planning – All Posts, Forms and Videos.   These posts on game planning have been viewed over 30,000 times with over 15,000 downloads of the tools and videos included in the Defensive Game Planning series.

Film Grading:

film grade sheet

We all look at video, and most of us grade it… practice, scrimmage, and game. I believe film evaluation can be one of the most powerful teaching tools at our disposal. While I was at UCM, we developed a tool that we used in grading our film. You can read about how we used the tool at this post, Film Grading Tool, and download the Excel template here, Film Grade Template.

We used this tool not only to evaluate our athletes, but also to evaluate how effective we have been as coaches and to self-scout. It tracks mistakes made, and defensive efficiency by front/ stunt and coverage. These posts have been viewed over 5,000 times and this template downloaded about 1,500 times. If you Google “excel film grading football” the two top hits are from these posts.

Practice Planning:

Practice 1

Every good coach that I have ever worked with has been meticulously organized regarding practice planning. A simple organization piece that can save you time during season is to have a practice plan template.   You can read about the template we developed at UCM at these posts, Practice, Not a Minute to Spare,  Running an Effective Drill, and EDD’s- Every Day Drills.

You can download the template we used at this link, Excel Practice Plan Template. These practice-planning posts have been viewed over 1,000 times and the template downloaded 600 times.

As I mentioned, all of this is free. It was all shared with me, either partially or in its entirety… and they are all customizable with just a little Excel knowledge.

The single thing that I will ask, that if you read the post, download the file(s) or click the links, please leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts on these subjects…

  • Do you like the ideas?
  • What tools do you use in your program?
  • How could I tweak them to make them better?

As always, if you have a question just shoot me an email or tweet… I will respond!

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

Jeff Floyd –

Defensive Installation Progression

I have been asked several times in the last few days if I could share information about fall camp defensive installation progression.  Below is an actual progression from a few years ago, but rather than just share this, I would like to discuss some considerations that need to be made when putting together a install schedule for fall camp.

  • Order of installation
  • Pace of installation

You can download the Excel spreadsheet of this progression by clicking on this link: Defensive Installation Progression, or just click on the image below.

Progression Order of Installation

When deciding what order to install the fronts, stunts, and coverages of your defensive system, there are a couple of basic methods you can consider.  One method is to install your base, or most simple, defensive front and work forward from there.  A second tack is to install your base, or most important, defensive front first.

22For years we took the first approach and installed our front “22” (DT’s in a head up alignment) first, because it was simple and easy to teach the other fronts after introducing it. But, our “22” front was one we never or seldom ran during the season.   We ended up combining the two methods and introduced our base (as in the most simple) front that was also base (as in most important) to our defense.

31We now begin by introducing “31” (one of our staple fronts-but also simple to introduce) and build on our players knowledge of that front when installing our other fronts.  We use the same philosophy when adding the progression for Stunts (both 1st and 2nd level) and Coverages.

The concept regarding order of installation is the same; it progresses from simple to more complex, in a logical manner,  building on the knowledge your athletes have gained from previous work.

Pace of Installation

Each new season we conduct our installation like we are teaching it for the first time.  Our pace is fairly slow and deliberate; for the veterans it is a good time to review and develop an even deeper understanding of the intricacies of our defense; for the rookies it is a pace that hopefully will not make their collective heads swim.

To determine the pace needed, we always look at a few landmark dates or events that we know a degree of preparation and installation completed is necessary.

  • The first full scrimmage against your own offense
  • The first full scrimmage against another team (Jamboree)
  • First week prep against your week 1 opponents scout offense
  • Week 1 Game
  • First Conference or District Game

We know what installation we want to have completed before each of these events, so it is simply a matter of working backwards from those dates to figure out how many practices you have install the needed material.

After doing it a while, you get a pretty good idea of the pace you can proceed.  Inevitably, though, you can count of some hiccups… (weather, unplanned events, etc) to slow down your teaching schedule.  And, although we do have a schedule, we always let how our athletes were handling the information ultimately determine the pace.  If at any point we could see that our play was “slowing down” because of “paralysis by analysis”, we could vary from the schedule, slow down, and add a review day.  Ultimately our athletes understanding of what we are trying to accomplish is the most important thing, not the schedule.

As you can see on the install progression, review days are built into the schedule.  This allows us to slow down and emphasize any item(s) that we have determined through film review or testing needs more time.

As I have discussed in previous posts, using technology to “flip” your meeting and practice time could have a positive effect on the pace and success of this progression.  Having key pieces of your installation presentations on video, which your athletes (both veteran and incoming) could view and review could greatly improve both on the field and in the classroom teaching time.  You can read about this idea in these posts:

If you have any questions, just comment or shoot me an email… I will answer!

Jeff Floyd –

Defensive Game Planning – Flipped Coaching

As a coach and teacher, I have a continuous, internal dialogue that takes place.  Time is at a premium, and it is inflexible, so whenever I am contemplating adding something else to my plate, this internal conversation begins.  I try to figure out the balance between doing something that may be really cool and the latest thing, with the kind of impact it will have on instruction.   There are a lot of really cool ideas that I come across… just about daily.  The trick is figuring out (due to time constraints) which cool idea(s) will have the biggest bang regarding instruction for the amount of time spent:

Instruction Bang/Time Invested

The bigger the bang, with less time invested, the better.

This is critical when it come to your weekly meeting, prep, and practice time in season… when you are formulating and teaching your weekly game plan.  Today I want to regress a little, and go back to the Weekly Workflow schedule that I discussed last week.  I believe there are a couple of ways to tweak this schedule, utilizing technology to “flip” your meeting time and practice time.

Flipping” the classroom or practice field refers to the concept of using technology to flip the traditional classroom/ meeting time; using online, shared content to provide student-athletes with learning opportunities traditionally reserved for classroom presentations, freeing up that time for more in-depth, hands-on learning opportunities.

Coach Keith Grabowski writes on this topic today with his post, “Flipping the Classroom (Flipped Coaching)”, which previews his upcoming American Football Monthly article on the topic and has links to all of his posts on the subject.

I have written a number of posts on the topic as well and links to most of them can be found at my post, “Flipping the Practice Field

Looking at our Weekly Schedule for defensive game planning, I believe there are three areas that we will be able to effectively implement technology to flip our meeting and practice time:

  • Daily Scripts – Emphasis
  • Position Group Reminders
  • Position Group Tests

Daily Scripts

As discussed in my post, Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow, we have an emphasis for each day of the week:

  • Tuesday – 1st Down, Second Down, 3rd and Short
  • Wednesday – 3rd and Medium, 3rd and Long, XL, Goal Line
  • Thursday – Gadget, Review All

On each of those days, we put together our script, pulling directly from Hudl, plays that our opponent has run in those situations, adding our Front/Stunt and Coverage to the script.  In the past we have used these scripts for three purposes :

  1. To print so our staff knows the plays/calls during team time
  2. We print scout team cards via Hudl directly from the script
  3. Occasionally we review the video after practice.

We already pull this script and make a Play List on Hudl each of these days.  The logical next step is to have the expectation that each of our players will have watched and studied this Play List, on their own device, as many times as they want, prior to practice time.  This should reinforce daily what our emphasis is, and give our players an idea prior to practice what those plays and formations look like, what fronts/ stunts/ coverage we will be running, and ultimately should speed up their reaction/ recognition time when practice actually begins.   This addition has a huge upside regarding the Instruction Bang/ Time Invested formula.  The only additional time investment is making sure the script is completed and Play List posted on Hudl in time for your players to study prior to practice.  Your team time vs the scout team offense will be filmed, and you can evaluate that film after practice.

A sample Tuesday video might look something like this – In this sample I just give the intro and run through a few plays… the actual script video from Hudl would be 20+ plays long depending on the day of the week.

Position Group Reminders

As part of our Friday routine at the University of Central Missouri, we gave everyone in our position group a written sheet with reminders for that week.

Linebacker Reminders

An effective way to reinforce this information would be to attach a video clip and make a screencast (see my post Making a Screen Recording) of those situations.  The expectation would be to review these reminders, both written and video, prior to Friday’s meeting.

Adding the video reminders may increase slightly your prep work time, but I believe the learning benefits will pay off.  The student athlete would be able to access the video on their own device, and review at their own speed.  It incorporates many different learning styles, including audio cues, visual diagrams, straight text description, and game video.

Here is what a sample reminder segment might look like.

Position Group Tests

As part of our Friday routine, we also gave written tests to our position group.

lb test

Adding an interactive AV segment to the test would be efficient and productive.  As a coach you could put together a screencast of a video test, with your players completing the written portion on their own prior to Friday meetings, or … even better… take meeting time, and create a truly interactive quiz as Coach Grabowski explains in his post, “On Edge Coaching Pt. 2 and another app”.

A “take home” video test question might look something like this:

A few considerations when implementing “flipped” practice techniques:

  • The video does not have to be perfect… if you stress about making the perfect Cecil B. DeMille production every week, you will drive yourself crazy.
  • The video does not have to be long – A quick 5 minute video that the student-athletes can replay as many times as they want can be very effective
  • The more you can make it cross-platform, the better.  If your student-athletes have to physically go to the library and sit in front of a computer, the less likely they will be to watch the video.  They are used to watching and interacting with their phones… try to use a system that can be viewed on their own device… their phone.
  • Many schools are moving to a 1:1 philosophy, where every student will have their own device to receive instructional content.  If your district is moving in that direction, you are in business.
  • If you are truly interested in incorporating technology into your teaching and coaching, you need to follow Coach Grabowski’s blog (Coach and Coordinator) and follow his Twitter feed – @CoachKGrabowski… it is the best stuff out there regarding coaching and technology.

Jeff Floyd –

Defensive Game Planning – The Call Sheet

The final goal of the entire game planning process is to assemble the tool to be used on game day, the Call Sheet.  As I mentioned in my first post on this subject (Defensive Game Planning – Genealogy) the following concepts were the driving force behind the development of this tool:

  • I am not particularly good at doing things “off the cuff”…
  • I like to be organized
  • I like things based on data
  • I needed a tool that could be used effectively during the “heat of the battle” on game day.

The Call Sheet that we developed while at the University of Central Missouri checked all the above boxes.  This tool was adapted for our use by ideas we learned from long time Eastern Illinois Defensive Coordinator, John Smith (see post on Genealogy)

I normally began my work completing the Call Sheet on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning (Saturday game) and spent several hours of work trying to get it right.  This process involved using two documents we had already completed as a defensive staff.

The Ready List (see post on the Ready List)

Ready List1

The Play Grid (see post on the Play Grid).

Play Grid

When I begin work, I have a printed copy of those two documents in front of me, with a blank Call Sheet to write on.

I typically begin with the box 2A on the Call Sheet, which includes all the plays that our opponent’s offense has run on 1st and 10 from the 20-49 yard line.   This normally is the box that has the largest sampling of plays in it.

On each box of the call sheet (beginning with box 2A) I want to come up with 3 Defensive Calls;

  • A call that is fairly vanilla (which depends on the down and distance and field zone).
  • A 2nd call that is a little more aggressive – normally involving a First Level Stunt
  • A 3rd call that is a sic ‘em call – normally involving a Second Level Stunt or a combination of First and Second Level Stunts.

To arrive at the calls for each “Box” on the call sheet, I look at the Play Grid to see what plays the offense is running in those situations.  I then look at our Ready List to see what Front/ Stunt and Coverage we decided as a staff would put our personnel in the best position against these plays.

When looking at the 2A box in the sample Play Grid from my previous post, you can see the following.


  • 22 Run plays vs 2 Pass plays
  • Iso is the most frequent play at 10 times
  • 67% Run overall in this field zone (Row 2 – 20-50 yd line)

So when consulting the Ready List, I would want to see what Front/Stunt would be very good against the Iso, but also good against Toss and Trap.  On the Ready List as a staff we have already determined that the defensive Front 31Sh (31 Short) is good against both Iso and Trap, so it becomes the first call in the A2 Box.

Iso Trap

A slightly more aggressive call which we determined would be very good against the Iso is 40 Sh- Sp Pn (40 Short, Split Pinch), so it is the second call in the A2 Box.

40 sh sp pn

The third call, a very aggressive sic ‘em call, 31 Sh – Tg Pn Sp – Wk (31 Short, Tight Pinch Special, Whack) includes both a first and second level stunt and is one our defensive staff decided would be very good against both the Iso and Trap.

31 sh pn dp wak

The completed A2 Box on the Call Sheet would look like this

calls A2

From the box 2A, I typically move up and do 1A, then down and do 3A, then complete the rest of the A (1st and 10) boxes after that.  I work my way across the Call Sheet in the same manner.

sample call sheet

Some Call Sheet considerations:

  • If a box does not have a very large sampling of plays in it, I normally look at the box above or below to see what they are doing down and distance-wise, and assign calls based on that data.  I also will look at any overall tendencies they have shown, either Down and Distance or Field Zone, to help guide my call selection.
  • Some Down and Distance/ Field Zone situations (boxes) call for more aggressive calls, even the “vanilla” or first call in the box… often as the offense moves closer to your goal line.
  • You can see that on the sample Call Sheet, a bracketed number precedes some calls.  This number corresponds to the call that is on our wristband that week.  Instead of signaling in the call, we can simply signal the corresponding wristband number to our personnel on the field.  We eventually evolved (partly in response to quick tempo- no huddle offenses) to putting ALL the calls from the Call Sheet on the wristbands.
  • When determining the calls in each box, I try to select the BEST calls against the most frequent play in that situation, but also what would be GOOD against all, or most of, the plays, in that particular situation.
  • When completing the Call Sheet, I try to immerse myself in a “Game Day” attitude… I try to “play the game” in my head as I am putting the calls in each box.
  • At the bottom of the sheet adjustments to special situations are noted, and calls for special situations are copied so they can be easily located.

When the call sheet is finished, you have a tool that has roughly 132 calls on it…

  • In every Down and Distance/ Field Zone situation, you immediately have 3 calls at your disposal.
  • Every call can be made in confidence because it is based on hard data from your opponent’s tendencies.
  • Every call can be made in confidence because it is the result of hours of meeting time with your staff.

You can download a blank copy of the Excel Call Sheet by clicking on the following link: Blank Excel Call Sheet, or just clicking on the picture below.

Blank Call Sheet

The brief video that follows describes the Call Sheet.

The previous posts in the Defensive Game Planning series are:

Tomorrow – Using the Call Sheet  – Communication and Game Procedures.

Jeff Floyd –

Defensive Game Planning – The Play Grid

The next step in the game planning process is completing the tool I call the Play Grid.  This is an Excel worksheet that includes every play we have broken down from our opponent’s film.  It is a single page document that gives me an at-a-glance look at what our opponent’s tendencies are by down and distance, field zone, or a combination of both.  I like to have the Play Grid completed at least one day previous to beginning work on the Call Sheet – Tuesday or Wednesday (see previous post – Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow) in a collegiate prep week.

I will ultimately use the Play Grid in combination with the Ready List (see previous post – Defensive Game Planning – The Ready List) to make the Call Sheet that is used on game day.   I print the completed Play Grid on the reverse side of the final Call Sheet.

Play Grid

When you look at the Play Grid the vertical columns displays all the plays they have run by down and distance.   For example, this, the A column, shows all the plays they ran in 1st and 10 situations.

Down Distance

The horizontal rows show the plays they have run in the different field zones.  For example, this, the 1 row, shows all the plays they ran backed up, from their own goal line to the 19-yard line.

Field Zone

The box where the columns and rows intersect show all the plays they have run in a specific Down and Distance and Field Zone situation.  For example, this, the A1 box, show all the plays the opponent has run on 1st and 10 plays from their own goal line to their 19 yard line.


The data used to enter into these cells is easily retrieved using Hudl (or any other data base software) using the Down and Distance report.

Hudl D and D

The only plays that you need to run a custom report is to get the XL plays for the H column, rows 1-4.

When I enter the plays in each “Box” on the Play Grid, I enter the plays in order of frequency, with the number of times they ran it.  I enter all of the Run plays first, followed by the Pass Plays.  I put in the Pass Plays in italics to delineate them.  I usually also “tag” the Pass Plays with the Pass Zone they were trying to attack.

In addition to entering the plays in each of the boxes on the Play Grid, I also enter any significant Down and Distance tendencies for Columns A-H, and any significant Field Zone tendencies in Rows 1-6.  Generally I consider any percentage over 66% significant.  I will use this information when completing the Call Sheet and as a quick reference on game day.

You can download a blank copy of the Excel Play Grid by clicking on the following link: Sample Excel Play Grid, or just clicking on the picture below.

blank grid

The brief video that follows describes the Play Grid.

The previous posts in the Defensive Game Planning series are:

Tomorrow – The Call Sheet

Jeff Floyd –