Little Things = Big Fixes

Do you need to make some BIG fixes to your squad?

My suggestion is … focus on the “little things”.

I think many times as coaches it is easy to get caught up thinking that some “shiny” new scheme might be the answer to woes your team may be experiencing… maybe adding a play… introducing a new “wrinkle”… a different pre-game routine… any enticing “magic bullets” that might be available.

But alas, there are no magic bullets.

If you examine what successful teams are doing, and how they are doing it, I think you will find that regardless of scheme, the good teams… the GREAT teams are well coached. Well-coached teams do all of the “little things” very well.

Here is a checklist of “little things” that I have used as a self-evaluation at different times during the season

Penalties

  • How many are you accruing?
  • What type?
  • How can you improve in this area?
  • Are you allowing or correcting these things during practice?

Film… examine/ study and GRADE film of your players… of both practice and game.

  • How is their technique?
  • Are they aligned correctly?
  • Do they execute their assignments correctly?
  • Do they give good effort?

If you are not examining these things during the week by evaluating practice film, do not expect much improvement during the game.

Here is a link to my thoughts on grading film – Film Grading

And here is an editable film grading tool that you can download and use to streamline your film grading and evaluation: Film Grading Tool

And here is a video that explains the features of the tool and how to use it:

Game plan

  • Was it correct… did your opponents do what you anticipated?
  • Did your coaches have input, understand, and buy into the game plan?
  • Did your players understand the plan?
  • Did you execute the plan… if not, where was the breakdown?

Here is a link to all of my posts on game planning: Defensive Game Planning, All Posts, Forms, and Videos

Practice Time

  • Are you efficiently using your practice time?
  • Do you set a daily practice schedule?
  • Do your coaches know what to expect prior to practice?
  • Do your players know what to expect prior to practice?
  • How much time are you allocating in each area… fundamentals, game plan, special teams, etc.?

Here is a link to my thoughts on practice planning: Practice, Not a Minute to Spare

Here is a post about our weekly work schedule: Weekly Workflow

And a practice schedule template you can download: Practice Template

Coaching staff

  • Are you efficiently using your coaches during practice?
  • Are you efficiently using your coaches during the game?
  • Do your coaches understand your scheme?
  • Are your coaches doing a good job of teaching your scheme and techniques?

How is effective is your communication from coaches to your players?

  • Play calling
  • Signaling
  • Sideline adjustments
  • Substitutions

How effective is your communication between your coaches?

  • Press box input
  • Between each series
  • Adjustments

Here is a post on Game Organization – Game Procedures

How effective is your kicking game? How much practice time are you allocating to special teams?

Often fine-tuning and focusing on a few of these “little things” can give you the BIG fix that you are looking for.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

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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, youcandomore.net 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.

LUCall

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

Genealogy

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

FAQ

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 youcandomore.net 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 – 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

Tis the Season

Like colorful fall foliage, there are a few things that, for me, herald the upcoming football season …fall foliage

  • My wife, Jamie’s, birthday… 8/8/64… a square root baby… through the years her birthday celebration has always been a little shortchanged because it falls right when fall practices are gearing up… she has always (mostly always) been very understanding.
  • Wedding anniversaries… my anniversary… 8/13/83… along with MANY coaching colleagues fall during the last week of July through the first week of August. For the old-timers, the first official practice day used to be set at August 15. I was married on a Friday, and started 2-a-days the next Monday. This year was our 31st … (we celebrated by going to see Rod Stewart and Santana at the Sprint Center.)
  • Heat… although this year has been slightly different in Missouri, normally when football fall camp started, you can count on the heat index being around 100+.
  • Blog stats… The stats on my blog site show a huge spike on the posts dealing with football… especially the game planning posts. During the last couple of weeks, there have been nearly 700 views of posts relating to game planning… 9 out of the top 10 posts (based on traffic) are on game planning, and there have been over 500 downloads of my game planning tools from the site.   Coaches are grinding!

Good luck to everyone as they head into the 2014 season… enjoy the journey… embrace the grind.

Related Posts:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Hail to the Redskins!

I have to admit to my excitement this morning when I noticed views of my blog several hundred ticks ahead of where it normally would sit at that time.  After some investigating, I found out that my blog, specifically my series on defensive game planning, had been referenced by the Washington Post’s The Insider blog.  Mike Jones and Mark Maske, who are NFL reporters for the Post, write the blog. Here is the reference: 

Around the Web:

For anyone who’s ever wondered how a defensive coach assembles a game plan, youcandomore.net 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.

post insiderYou can see the post and their blog at this link – The Insider, and follow their twitter feeds at @mikejoneswapo and @markmaske .  They have a ton of good NFL information, especially concerning the Redskins.

Hail to the Redskins! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Stats

statsStats, numbers, data, have always intrigued me.  I try to use this type of information to better understand what we are doing well, and what needs to be an area of emphasis.  Last night I took a look at the stats for this blog.

By far and away, the most popular topic (by number of views) has been the series on Defensive Game Planning.  That is in part due to a number of online football outlets posting links to the series – most notably:

Thanks to all of these coaches and sites for sharing this information with their readers.  These are all great sites, ones that I would recommend bookmarking.

The stats ….

So far there have been nearly 5,000 views on the defensive game planning posts, with the most popular two being Defensive Game Planning – The Call Sheet, and Defensive Game Planning – The Play Grid.  There has been almost 2,000 downloads of the various game planning tools that I shared in these posts, with the most downloaded being the Play Grid with over 200 downloads, followed closely by the blank Call Sheet with about 180 downloads.

Other popular topics have been the recruiting series, Recruiting – Gauging Their Level of Interest, and also the series regarding the Strength and Conditioning program, A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout

Thanks to all who have read and shared.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email or comment.  I will respond.  If you have enjoyed these posts, please share with a colleague.

I hit a minor snag with my iBook on Defensive Game planning…. A couple of the images were too small to read so the iTunes store rejected it until I correct those issues.  Hopefully I will have that (free) for all that would like to download it by the end of this month.  Until that time you can get find all of the posts at these links:

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

200 Strong – Thanks

I started this blog on January 1, 2013.  Today is my 200th post.  That translates to about 150,000 – 200,000 words, with posts (by frequency) in the following categories:

Some posts were included in more than one category, so the total posts by categories are more than the 200 actual, individual posts.  You can click on each link to get to all the posts for that specific category.

Thanks to you, the readers, for motivating me with questions, comments, likes, and shares.  One thing that still impresses me daily is the impact, trust and loyalty that most of you have with your colleagues.  Every time one of you “shares” or “likes” or “tweets” or “re-tweets” one of my posts, views on this site skyrocket.  I know time is at a premium for us all, so when you take time to read, and then feel that it worthy enough to pass on to your colleagues… that means a great deal to me.

With that in mind I thank you, and ask a favor….

If you have enjoyed, benefitted, been amused, been moved, been intrigued, scratched your head, found something thought provoking…. then please pass on the link to this site (youcandomore.net) to a colleague(s) that might as well.

coverOn another note, I have submitted my iBook on the Defensive Game Planning process to the iTunes store and am just waiting approval.  When it is live and available (for free),  I will let you all know!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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 – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – All Posts, Forms, and Video

Let me start by thanking Coach Keith Grabowski of Baldwin Wallace University for the kind words in his post today, Follow Up: Advice to young coaches taking on a (Defensive) Coordinator Role.  His previous post on this topic (Advice to young coaches taking on a Coordinator Role) was geared to the offensive side of the ball, but most of his advice is applicable to ALL coaches, young or old, offense or defense, coordinator or position coach.

I have had several additional questions, and a few requests regarding the Defensive Game Planning series.  I will try to take care of those items today.

mag coverSeveral coaches have requested for access to all the posts and attachments in one place.   I will attempt this using a couple of different methods:

First, if you have the app Flipboard on your mobile device (it is available for iPhone or Android, but is optimized for iPad), I have put all of the Defensive Game Planning posts in a Flipboard “magazine” that can be downloaded at this link:

 

Flipboard Defensive Game Planning Magazine

A second option – here is a link to every post, followed by links to all of the forms that I have referenced in the series:

Forms and Videos in this series:

All of this information will be included in an iBook that I hope to complete within the year.

If there is another way you would like this information delivered, just let me know and I will try to accommodate.

Tomorrow I will talk about some ideas on “Flipping” your meeting time when prepping for your opponent.

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

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – FAQ’s

faqI have received some questions regarding the Defensive Game Planning process I have detailed over the last few days.  The answers to these questions (as well as questions I was asked when giving this presentation in person) will also encompass my planned topic for today, game adjustments and tweaking the process to fit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What about the first game of the season?  How do you have a large enough data sample to determine any tendencies?

Planning for first few games of the season has always been the most angst-ridden time for me.  As I have mentioned more than a few times, I like things to be based on hard data, and I am not very good at doing things “off the cuff”.  Typically, the game plan for the first couple of games will have to be the most flexible and may need adjusting “on the fly”.  Still, a solid plan can normally be developed.  You probably will have a couple of things at your disposal that will help you put together, at minimum an outline of a plan:

  • Game plans from previous years vs that opponent
  • Jamboree or Scrimmage film that can be exchanged and broken down.

Although both of these sources will be fairly skeletal, it will at least give you an idea of formations, plays, and routes to prepare against.  As the game develops, you can use the game day procedures that I discussed in yesterday’s post (Defensive Game Planning-Game Day Procedures) to develop a list of calls to use during the game.  Part of this will be you using your knowledge of your defensive scheme and personnel to attack the opponents offense… for example, what is your best defensive front to stop a strong side Power run play?… What is your best coverage to use against a trips formation… and so on…. As you see what plays they are running, and having success with, you will need to draw on your experience and expertise to counter with your best front/stunt/ coverage calls against those plays.

What it your opponents runs something you have not game planned against?

Good!  Your game plan is based on what your opponent has demonstrated they like to do.  If your opponent is doing something that you have not seen, it probably means that they cannot, or do not believe, they would have success doing those things against your defense.  It will mean that you have to adjust your game plan (see above) but you are forcing your opponent to do something they probably do not have the confidence, or experience running.

What about offensive personnel packages… do you do anything with that information?

Yes, there have been times that an offense’s personnel package has been a clear indicator of formation and/ or play intent.  If we notice that during our film breakdown process our opponent has definite tendencies based on personnel, we would develop a list of calls based on these personnel groupings.  Typically we use the same process as we did developing the Ready List, and add a section of calls, based on personnel grouping, to the Call Sheet.  At the very least, recognizing personnel groupings will give you a head start while making the defensive call during the game; you will be able to anticipate what formation they will be running, and should have a good idea what plays they like to run out of that formation.  You can then adjust your call if needed using that information.

Personnel groupings, Down and Distance, Field Zone, Formations… will all normally give you some key indications as to what an offense’s intentions are for that play.  It is up to you each week to determine which of these will be the best indicator(s) of their intentions.

What if a team does not have any tendencies?

While it is true that some opponents you play will have stronger tendencies than others, I have never seen a team that didn’t have ANY tendencies.  If you give me enough data, and enough time, I will find their tendencies.  It is also true that the more balanced a team is, formation wise, down and distance wise, run-pass wise, field-zone wise… the more difficult it is to game plan against them.

What about automatic checks… do you ever use those?

Yes, if we see that an opponent has a very strong tendency in a particular formation, or using a particular motion, or with a particular personnel package, we often will have an automatic check built into the game plan for that week.  The check will normally be a fairly aggressive call with a Defensive Front, Stunt (possibly a first and second level stunt), and Coverage build into it that we have determined will be “money” against what they have shown in that situation.

I don’t have a full defensive staff that can do the process that you outlined… what suggestions do you have for me?

Although I do believe the process works best with a full staff working (especially developing the Ready List), I have actually used the same procedures putting together a defensive game plan with only me and an additional coach doing the lions share of the work.

Do you ever use information from previous years games against the opponent when developing the game plan?

Yes, there are a number of uses for your previous years game plans…that is why I have game plans saved for every opponent over the last 20 years or so!  Typically when I was at the University of Central Missouri, we broke down our own game from the previous year against our upcoming opponent.  We would not always include the information when running the information for the scouting report.  We would examine how similar they were to the previous year:

  • Did they have the same head coach?
  • Did they have the same offensive coordinator?
  • Did they have the same personnel … how much did graduation affect them?

If they had not changed appreciable in these areas, we might include this breakdown data in our report.  At the very least, it will probably be a good overall indication of what your opponent will attempt to do offensively.  I was often amazed how similar some offenses were from year to year… even with different personnel.  Often the Formation Analysis and Play Grid of an opponent barely changed from year to year.

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

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, all of the posts on Defensive Game Planning will be compiled in a free iBook which will be available by the end of the summer.

Previous Posts from the Defensive Game Planning series:

Tomorrow, some thoughts on “flipping” the game planning/ practice process.

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com