defense

11 Signs You Played Offensive Line!

Whether you’ve played it, coached it, or both, you know that there is something special about those that call themselves offensive linemen!  Unsung heroes for those not in the know, and sometimes for those that do know as well.  But that’s OK. Its part of what makes being Hawg so great!  In honor of the trench warriors, here are 11 signs you might have played offensive line!

  1. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You know what its like to finish two plates before others finish their first.
  2. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You have experienced the spiritual joy brought forth by a clean hitting trap block.
  3. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You know that the worst part of practice is always jogging to the next drill spot.
  4. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You know that the “lineman trot” is learned skill that not just anyone can master.
  5. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You have experienced the anticipation for inside run because you need to shut-up that DL sumbich for all that trash talk during 1 on 1 pass rush.
  6. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… When you knew it was you that busted an assignment, but you act like you couldn’t hear coach yelling from the sideline.
  7. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You understand that a proper jersey tuck under the shoulder pads can determine making it through practice or not.
  8. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… On Friday nights you know all the other teams DL by name and what they are gunna do just by how they line up.
  9. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You used to bring snacks, so you don’t get hungry between final bell and pregame meals.
  10. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if…. You’ve seen the panic in a DB’s eyes because you got a free release to the third level.
  11. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You don’t know what words bring more soul crushing dread: “GET EM CHOPPIN!” or “TO THE 5 MAN!”

BONUS:  You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You know that you have a group of life long brothers that will have your back till the day you die!

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10 Ways to Sell the Wing-T

There is no denying the success of the wing-T offense.  It has perforated into all levels and all offensive styles today as described in a previous article (A Legend of the Fall).  However, choosing to run this system in today’s age of flashy spread schemes does come with a few speed bumps that you must overcome.  This is mainly due to stake holders like parents, boosters and players simply not understanding the offense, as all they see on tv is what they want to do.  That’s not just football, that is life in America.  The masses tend to emulate what they see on tv and other media outlets.  But for those of us who know and understand the offense, we know that it is simply the most cost effective and adaptable system available.  Hence, the wide spread use of its concepts from youth leagues to the NFL.  This article will give you 10 easy ways to help sell the wing-T offense to your players, parents and other stakeholders in your program.

  1. The ball is spread to multiple playersWhen run correctly, this is a true spread the ball around offense. At minimum it is a 3 back offense, 4 if you incorporate the QB in the run game!  Due to the deception and ball hiding nature of the offense you don’t need a dominant player at WR, QB or RB, (of course it always helps when you got one lol…) but, you can spread the ball around while faking it to the other players, forcing the defense to spread itself thin to account for multiple ball carriers and to play assignment football or they risk following the wrong player!  As far as who is getting the rock, it is hard to beat the true balance of the wing-T offense.  Use this when selling to your athletes.
  2. History of successHistory is on the side of the T based offenses. Most other offense produce “flash in the pan” success.  They will be good for a year, two years, and then back to obscurity. Especially with spread teams!  If they can’t recruit a DUDE at QB every year… its hard for them to stay consistent. While the teams that run a T based offense are consistently good, regardless of talent levels.  I don’t need to convince you of this, simply think of the successful teams in your state, or district.  Good chance the ones with sustained success are ones basing out of T concepts.  On top of that, its very easy to call plays in the system.  I detail that HERE. Use these things when selling the wing-T to your coaching staff, boosters and AD.
  3. If you can play, they will come“You won’t get recruited by a college in a wing-T offense” what a completely ASININE statement! Yet I have heard it multiple times!  This tends to be a thing repeated by players as why they would transfer…. Lets be real about this… this is from ignorant adults, not kids.  The ranks of college and the NFL are FULL of athletes that played in the wing-T or a derivative.  Hell, you still see the Wing-T in the NCAA and NFL today!  One simply needs to show this to the kids and parents with real statistics to squelch this silly rumor. 9 times out 10 this is told to players and parents by “street gurus” that have an investment in a rival school.  Like most things in life, look at the motives behind what somebody says and the light will shine on their true intentions.  Fact: it does not matter where you play ball at… if you are good enough, the recruiters will come.
  4. VersatilitySomething that I believe is unique to the wing-T offense is its versatility! There are more ways to incorporate wing-T concepts than you could ever do in a season.  Double options, triple options, shot gun, pistol, gun option.  People are even running the wing-T out of 4 wide personnel groupings.  It is truly adaptable to any skill set your players may or may not have!  This is reflective of the wing-T’s pathogen like infection of every offensive system you see today! This is also why you will see sustained success with wing-T teams. Target your coaching staff and AD with this one.
  5. Change NamesSimple word change propaganda goes a LONG way. Case and point:  in the 1980’s the Afghanistan militants were fighting against communist Russia and the USA called them “Freedom Fighters” and even supplied weapons and training.  Fast forward to the 2000’s…. and well, we wont get into all that, but you get the idea.  What I’m saying is… change the terminology to pander to the minds of your athletes!  Call your base wing-T formation “Spread rt” and “Spread lt”!  instead of calling the Fullback a Fullback, call him a B back… or even better, call him a Tailback! Instead of calling the wings, wingbacks… call them Slots!  You know they are wings… but that simple title change goes a long way.
  6. It’s a Team first offenseThis is the ULTIMATE team offense. Your Backfield and WRs will be selfless and block or fake on play they don’t get the ball. Which will help them, when they do get the ball.  Your skill guys know that if they block hard, or fake with conviction, the same will happen for them when they get the ball.  This is self-promoting!  This happens on its own with just some guidance from the coaching staff.  Everybody knows they will get the ball, everybody is involved in the game.  There is no need for that one WR that gets the ball every other play.  It is a true team system, that helps lead to a IDENTITY.
  7. It makes the defense tougher
    1. There is simply no arguing here. This type of offense is down hill and physical with high frequency, further building the team IDENITY. This forces the defense to develop an edge and a hardness that they simply cannot get by lining up in space every snap and playing tackle 7on7. This tends to ruffle feathers when I say this to folks… but facts are facts.  Furthermore, the nature of the offense means you can run the clock and have your “better” athletes play defense!  Your DC will be your new best friend.
  8. It’s DifferentBeing a wing-T offense you will be different. You will be something that, with a good chance nobody else you play is!  This will cause your opponents to have issues defending you.  They will be used to playing against 4 wide and shotgun 20 personnel all season long, and in practice against themselves all preseason and spring.  They will only have week to get ready for your formations and deceptive ground and pound offense.  Your players will also discovery that they are different, than anyone they play against.  This further leads to building an IDENTITY!
  9. Angles and NumbersThe use of angles may be the single biggest advantage of this offense! Your blockers, OL or Skills, will never have to drive a defender backwards, they will always have an angle to their blocks. This allows you to use smaller or less athletic linemen and still be successful.  The entire system is based on taking what the defense is not defending and getting there with as much speed and simplicity as possible.  The formations of the offense allow for extra run gaps to be created while still posing a vertical passing threat.  This creates a natural conundrum for the defense. They can load the box and expose themselves to the Play Action game, they can defend the edges and give up the quick hitting inside game.
  10. IdentityDifferent, hard nosed, team first. This all leads to strong sense of identity for your players.  You will watch your players start to take pride in the fact that they run this offense.  As somebody who has run multiple offensive schemes, I have not seen this happen with other offenses.  This sense of identity is self-feeding into the team first, hard nose nature of the system.  But don’t take my word for it!  Watch this video and then try and tell me these kids (and Coaches!) being interviewed don’t have a strong sense of IDENTITY:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOrwXVlpFfU

Bonus: It’s Fun!  Fun to call plays, fun to watch on film. Fun to coach. And ive NEVER had an offensive lineman that did not LOVE the offense.  OL enjoys the offense…. Nuff Said.

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MATCH QUARTERS from the UNDER FRONT

Match Quarters has become highly prevalent in defensive football world over the past decade.  And for good reason! It works!  It is an outstanding way to combat the ever increasing number of spread offenses you will see from week to week.  2read, MQ, quarters read, match quarters, whatever you want to call it, the principals remain the same.  This article will focus on running the concept from an under front. Specifically, a 3-4 under which I simply call “Shade”.

BASE PHILOSOPHY of “SHADE”

We will stop the run! First and foremost. We will not allow people to move the ball by running it, we will make necessary adjustments to ensure this from week to week.  Basing out of the shade will give multiple looks to the offense and allow us to easily incorporate stunts and pressures when warranted.

I call it shade because it tells the front they will be shading the OL instead of aligning head up. (heads) While in shade, the strength will always be called to the passing strength.  the only rule breaker to this is if you get a TE and wing on the same side, then the strength MUST go to the TE/wing combo.

Our secondary will play a base coverage called “Palms” (same as rest of America). In this we can align to any formation and still be sound vs the run and the pass.  Every day as a team, we will tackle, and we will run “block destruction” drills.

GOOD ENOUGH for BELICHICK, GOOD ENOUGH for ME

Run Defense

  • Set the edge, turn the ball back inside to pursuit
  • Attack at correct angles
  • NEVER GIVE UP CONTAIN
  • Force Player will force ball inside then shed block and make play
    • Push back the LOS
  • Must teach players to defeat blocks
  • If QB can run, somebody MUST BE A 2 GAP PLAYER
  • Backside set edge for reverse, boot, counter and cutbacks
  • Every week emphasize setting the edge
  • Run through tackles, never leave feet

Pass Defense

  • Collapse pocket to get to QB
  • Push up middle, don’t want QB stepping up
  • A rusher deeper than the QB is the worst position in football to be in
  • A good pass rush helps the coverage more than 4 all stars in the secondary will

ALIGNMENT

  • Weak Tackle/End aligns 4i and steps hard inside eyes on guard
  • Strong Tackl/End aligns 5tech and plays squeeze
  • Nose aligns playside shade on the center
  • Sting will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE or 5 tech depending on the call
  • Ram will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE

Here is a look at the shade alignment vs some common offensive sets:

img_1161img_1162

PALMS OVERVIEW

Quarters Read. Corners and safeties read number the number 2 receiver.  To a TE the safety becomes run support.  Corners Toes at 6 yards with inside leverage, his read steps are backpedal weave.  Safeties toes at 9 to 12 yards.  Safeties are a PASS FIRST defender and backpedal on the snap.

  • Corner and safety will read number 2 to their side.
  • To 3 x1 the read man remains number 2 in slide and moves to number 3 in roger/lucy. This is a concept called “mini” we will save this for another article.  The easiest adjustment to 3×1 is to simply slide into cover 3 with your secondary.
  • To a single receiver side with no 3×1 alert, the corner and safety will default to cover 2.

RULES FOR PALMS

The rules for Palms Coverage are relatively simply in concept.  The number 2 receiver can only do 1 of 4 different things.

  • Number 2 goes out
    • Corner takes number 2 and safety plays over the top
  • Number 2 goes in
    • Both safety and corner back pedal into quarters
      • Safeties eyes go to QB and he is going to end up robbing any deep middle route by the opposite number 2
    • Number 2 goes vertical
      • Both safety and corner back pedal into quarters
    • Number 2 blocks/cracks
      • Corner will spike inside for run support
      • Safety gets over top in case of bubble/go or play action, then rallies for run support. He still PASS FIRST

Here is a look at Palms vs some common 2×1 and 2×2 route combinations:

img_1163img_1164

depending on the scout that week will determine when the corner comes off.  To be safe… tell them “when in doubt, stay deep!”

CLOSING

Like most things, people tend to over complicate it.  Pattern match coverages are no different.  It really is that simple.  Repetition is key.  Once your players are confident in what they are doing.. they can play fast.  When they can play fast, good things happen!  Stay tuned for an article on the “MINI” coverage mentioned previously! Be sure join the email list so you can be updated anytime an article posts!  Follow me on twitter here @TheCoachVogt

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Using Wide Zone to Set Up the “Look Pass” By: Chad Weeks

In the first article Building an Aerial Attack Around the Wide Zone I talked about the 2 primary passing compliments to Wide Zone, the Keeper and the Solid Pass. These are most certainly the core components of our non-drop back passing offense. In this article, I will discuss another key component of our passing game built around Wide Zone, which is the Look Pass.

THE LOOK PASS

1look

The Look Pass is our simplest compliment to Wide Zone. It is cheap to install and we only have to work it 5 minutes a day. We attach this to the backside of Wide Zone, though we have attached it to the backside of several different runs.

We only run this under center because we want the ball to come out fast. The receiver will not have any blocking so he has to have the ball fast and accurately to be able to make a move. If we were going to run something like this in shotgun, we would have to add a blocker, which is fine, but that’s not what we are trying to do here.

We predominantly run Look Pass to the backside of 3×1 formations but it can be done to a 2×2 formation. The inside receiver simply push-cracks the safety and is not part of the Look pass equation.

2look

RULES

The rule for the QB is easy, and the decision is made pre-snap. If you feel the receiver has enough cushion to make the catch, secure the ball, and make a move then throw it. After that its on the receiver to do something with it.

The rules for the receiver are very simple. Our footwork is as simple as loading the weight on the front foot of the stance, pushing off and pivoting back. That’s it. After catching it his rule is to get to a point 5 yards downfield on the sideline, after that the athlete takes over.

3look

We’ve found that by having the receiver pivot away from the defender we have more success with it rather than foot firing or taking one pop step. First, there is now more separation, which means we can throw it to a tighter corner than most would. Secondly, the defenders typically are slower to trigger when the receiver simply steps off the line of scrimmage. This doesn’t look the same as the quick screens they are used to seeing every week. Finally, it’s a cleaner more consistent picture for the QB which leads to a faster throw. I work with the QB’s to get used to throwing from multiple arm slots. The most important part of this throw is to not sail it. Anything low the receiver can usually salvage it, anything high this is dead in the water and we may as well have handed it off on Wide Zone.

4look

I only ask for 5 yards, anything extra the athlete creates on his own by beating the man trying to tackle him one on one. It is crucial to coach that point though, they have to attack the sideline. This creates space between them and the other 10 defenders that will be pursuing and it give them the opportunity to cut back on the defender trying to tackle him one on one. The runner reads the leverage of the defender. If the defender keeps inside leverage he will violently try to rip under the tackle and press down the sideline. If the defender keeps outside leverage the runner will break down the cushion between them then get up field underneath the defender, but will get back outside as fast as he can to avoid the other pursuing defenders.

DRILLING IT

5look

We work Look Pass in a simple “pre-practice” drill. Again 5 minutes a day, if you want to get it done even faster, and you can be really honest with yourself, you could just throw this to the guys who would realistically be running it in games.

EXAMPLES

The following are good examples of Look Pass in action. Notice on all 4 the ball gets out very quickly and hits the WR in the chest. This makes his life so much easier and allows our best offensive player to beat the defender one on one.

These clips show bad examples of Look Pass. Notice on these two clips the WR’s hesitate and even work back inside, which is the worst thing you can do.

This clip shows an example of when the QB should have thrown it and didn’t.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

One of the adjustments we didn’t invest in until late last year was also running Look Pass with a 0-Step Slant or what we called “Strike” to beat the Catch-Man coverage we saw a ton of last year. The QB and WR would communicate this with a simple hand signal. By default it was a normal Look Pass, if the signal was given it was converted to the Strike. We didn’t run it live in a game, but it was something that we had available if we needed it. We will be investing in this heavier this year to make sure we get what we want from it and that the QB is comfortable with the throw.

CLOSING

As simple as Look Pass is it’s the best attachment we have for Wide Zone. Though not as sexy as post-snap RPOs this is cheap and simple way to get the ball into your best receiver’s hands on run downs. I feel just as comfortable with this short throw and catch into space as I am handing it off. One of the biggest regrets I have from last season is not pushing our QB to throw it more often.

Follow Coach weeks on twitter here @weekschad

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10 More Signs, You Might Be a Football Coach!

As a follow up to “10 Signs You Might Be a Football Coach” here are 10 more signs, you might be a football coach!

You might be a football coach if…..

  1. You STILL can’t get rid of those little rubber beads, you might be a football coach!
  2. You get more texts and calls in one weekend during the season than all weekdays combined; you might be a football coach!
  3. If you have taken multiple rides on a yellow bus where you can’t shake the feeling you forgot something, you might be a football coach!
  4. You would be rich if you had $1 every time you heard “I got my guy” on the sideline, you might be a football coach!
  5. You finally get the HC to call that play you’ve been asking for all game and it works: walkyou might be a football coach!
  6. You finally get the HC to call that play and it fails miserably: hideyou might be a football coach!
  7. If you get a new job and you have to eliminate more than half your wardrobe, you might be a football coach!
  8. If you’ve felt the chill in the air when a Wing-T guy and Spread guy enter the same room, you might be a football coach!
  9. When you talk about your plan for Friday with your significant other, she looks at you like your speaking a foreign language, you might be a football coach!
  10. You know what IV, ML, OV, IZ, WZ, RPO, LOS, EMOLS, PK, PAP, all mean, you might be a football coach!

BONUS: You know that feeling when a player comes to tell you that he got a scholarship offer, you might be a football coach!

2 Things Needed for Success in Coaching Football

Football is undoubtedly the greatest team sport on the planet! As we always preach to new coaches and to our players, it takes every single individual involved in the program to make it successful. From the equipment managers, parents, boosters to the starting QB and the Head Coach.  It takes everybody working together.  It is part of makes this such a great job.  The community that is built around a good football program is something that cannot be replicated in other sports or even other professions.  It is part of the reason we get into this profession. Along with the love of game and the desire to make a difference in the lives of young men.  However, if we want to have longevity in this profession, there several things that you need to be able to do, and traits that you should have.  This article will focus on two of them that I think are vitally important to a long career in this great field of work.  First, is the ability and desire to acquire new knowledge.  Second, is adaptability.

The Ability and Desire to Acquire New Knowledge

This is something that is a good quality to have with any venture in life. You must have the ability to go out and learn as much as possible, as often as possible.  But having the ability is not enough by itself.  You need to have the desire to as well.  Professional development is an ongoing thing.  It never ceases.  It would be highly beneficial for you to go out and learn as much as you can, about as many different systems as you can, both offensively and defensively. Become proficient in many different philosophies. This can help you understand your opponents as well as give you something to use when the time comes.

Remember, nobody has all the answers.  As soon as you get complacent. As soon as you think you know it all.  As soon as you think you’ve learned everything there is to know… that’s when you get beat.  THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEBODY SMARTER.  In one regard or another, there is going to be somebody that knows more than you about something eventually.  Don’t get beat because you got lazy in your own continued education of the sport.  Do your best to mitigate and minimize all chances of not having an answer by always striving to acquire and apply new information, which leads us right into our next trait.

Adaptability

You must have the ability to adapt.  What I mean by that is, you must be able to adapt the program to fit your talent levels. If you have a bunch of tall, lanky and thin bodies for your skill players, lining up and running the isolation 20 times a game might not be the best idea you’ve ever had…  but if that’s all you know, or worse, all you’ve cared to know, you won’t be able to adapt and experience success.  On the other side of that, if you have a bunch of undersized lineman, asking them to zone block and man block in a spread set where they have no edge help… that can be a disaster too.  So, you need to understand a wide range of systems so you can always put your kids in a situation to experience success and build confidence.  Same goes for the defensive side of the ball.  If you have a bunch of DB and LB type bodies on the field, forcing them into a 4 man front isn’t going to help you much.  Play to the strengths of your players.

Now, it is important that you understand that I AM NOT saying that you shouldn’t have a core set of principles that you believe in.  EVERYBODY should and in fact, needs to have that.  You need to have that one system that you believe in.  Having the ability to adapt within the system is even better.  But whatever the system, be it single wing or air raid or triple option, you need to have your “bread and butter”  I’ll use myself as an example.  It is my philosophy that I will always start off with basing out of the wingT.  My number one reason for this, the wingT’s naturally ability to adapt to all different talent levels.  From youth leagues to big leagues.  It uses angles and numbers to make blocking easier.  It gets your backs to the edge effectively regardless of talent level.  It uses 3 backs so you can use smoke and mirrors, ball fakes, and spread the ball around.  It provides success for teams that have little talent, but is great for teams that have a plethora of talent.  You see it in the NFL still, and clearly there is no lack of talent there.  So that is why I base my offense from those principles… but that doesn’t mean I will refuse to get into single back or shot gun to run zone and throw the ball if that’s what it will take to win.  I make it a point to understand as many systems as possible as many of you do as well.

Closing

Learning and Adaptability.  Is it the only two things you need? Of course not, but they can dang sure help you be a more successful coach!  Let me know in the comments or on twitter what are some things that you think are mandatory for long term success??? Give me a follow on twitter here @thecoachvogt and please subscribe with your email so you can be notified anytime a new article drops!   Speaking of learning new things, here are some opportunities to do just that with some informational material written by yours truly.

The Speed-T Offense V2”  “Installing the Wide Zone”  and  “Practical Fitness

Till next time,

Coach Vogt.

Running Effective Football Practices

Football season is here!  Summer has been filled with hard work, sweat and hours of scheming for offensive and defensive installations.  However, how much thought has been put into establishing effective and efficient practices?  I am a firm believer in the fact that games are won and lost Monday through Thursday!  These are the days in which we prepare our teams for the coming game.  Practice too short or waste time in practice, you will be unprepared.  Spend too long at practice and you risk being burnt out by Friday or negatively effecting moral.  It really is an art, to run a proper football practice.  The purpose of this article is to shed some light on this and provide a guide for running a “good” practice.  While I do not claim to have the perfect system here, it has proven to be effective for me and the teams that I have coached for.

SAFETY

Let’s start with the obvious and get it out of the way now.  Football, when played well, is an aggressive contact-filled game.  Because of the nature of the game there are possibilities for injuries.  Such injuries, and in particular injuries of a serious nature, can be minimized by playing with the rules, wearing proper equipment, and using the proper techniques for your position as taught by your position coach.

Special attention should be paid to the proper head, neck and body position when blocking and tackling.  The use of the head as a weapon in blocking and tackling is not only against the rules, but spearing techniques can be the cause of serious injury to yourself or your opponent.  A well-conditioned football player, using correct techniques, with his body in the correct heads-up, bull-necked football position, greatly reduces his chances of injury. In fact, FOOTBALL IS SAFER TODAY THAN IT EVER HAS BEEN IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT!

BASIC PRACTICE GUIDE LINES

  • Pay strict attention to time segments.
  • All segments are important, treat them as such.
  • Breed confidence and success into your team.
  • Gain respect from your players, do not demand it. You must earn it.
  • If you get tired pray for strength, because you should practice at a high tempo and you must have the same energy you ask your players to have.

You should also be very selective in the drills in which you select for your players to do.  All of your drills should do the following:

  • Cover considerable ground in a short amount of time.
  • Be well planned and administered.
  • Be known by name to the players so that they do not require re-explanation after they have been run two or three times.

Do not make drills too elaborate.  Keep them short, snappy, crisp and positive.  The coach running the drills should see to it that they are prepared in ADVANCED.  This should include any teaching aids such as balls, bags, cones and etcetera.  When establishing your football drills you need to choose from the following four types of drills:

  1. Fundamental Drills – these are to teach all the skills of tackling, blocking, stance, etc.
  2. Reaction Drills – primarily for developing quickness, balance, and agility.  These should be included briefly in almost every practice.
  3. Toughening Drills – the primary purpose here is to develop and encourage the desire and ability to utilize the physical contact aspect of the game of football.   These drills should be used only to the extent so as not to dull the desire for further contact.
  4. Fun Drills – used to lighten the practice load late in the season or as a morale booster.

Do all these things, and your practices will set your players up for success on and off the field.  As I said earlier, it is my belief that many teams lose the game on Mondays through Thursdays because they do not know how to properly practice and prepare.

THE OBJECTIVE OF PRACTICE

  1. Mental Toughness – this can be developed and is expected.
    1. Learn to deal with pain and to never except defeat. Do all the little things right all the time.
    2. Defeat all negative thoughts. “When your body says no – your heart says go!”
  2. Physical Strength and Quickness
    1. Weight Room – Benefits are well known, this is where championships are won, and champions lift IN season!
    2. Agility, Adaptability and Flexibility.
  3. Intensity – Must teach the 150% attitude
    1. Everything is done with a high level of enthusiasm and competitiveness – Push each other.
    2. Never be satisfied.
    3. All-out effort – All the time – 150% effort every minute accept nothing less.
    4. Expect more from yourself as coaches and players.
  4. Unity – Only as good as the last coach or last player with the merit role in the program.
    1. Always talk “Us” and “We”, not “I” and “Me”. Make being on the team the greatest experience of their lives.
    2. Hard work together equals Unity of Team. Encourage each other to work harder – the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.
  5. The Difference between Them and Us.
    1. We do work harder, 150% effort all the time – Outwork the 110% opponent.
    2. Discipline – must live with it, must expect it, must do right 150% of the time.
    3. If a 150% effort equals hard work, then we can accomplish it.
    4. As a team we will sweat the small stuff. The little things we do will make us Champions.
    5. Our Success – Our Attitude – Our Work Habits are things we can control, choose to be in control of our destiny. Never allow our opponent to dictate our destiny.

CONDITIONING

A note on conditioning. It is my personal belief that drills done for the sole purpose of condition are largely, a huge waste of time.  To me, if you have to do drills just for the purpose of conditioning your players, it means you are NOT practicing hard enough.  Let me say this now, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO PRACTICE INTO SHAPE!

Your practices need to be run at a high tempo.  Once your players are familiar with your drills, they should be rapid fire and you need to coach on the fly.  Save the slowed down teaching for pre and post practice, or in those situations in which immediate correction is non-negotiable.  When it comes to conditioning, there are certain drills that will allow you to do this AND have your players get meaningful reps at the same time!  Here are some such drills:

Edge Period– This will be the starting offense minus the wide outs against the starting defense minus the secondary.  The offense will choose one formation and attack the edge to the left and then to the right as fast as possible with the same play over and over.  This conditions both sides of the ball, and forces the players to communicate with each other quickly under pressure.  Yes the defense will know the play and inevitably start cheating…. It will make you tougher, get over it.  The ball carriers will be on a quick whistle, no tackling to the ground.  Do this drill on Mondays.

Inside Run– Everybody knows what inside run is.  Increase the tempo, tackle to the ground, get after it!  Do this drill on Tuesdays.  “Tuesday is Bruise Day!”

Man Drill– This drill is where the wide outs and defensive backs can go during edge period and inside run.  They will work on man coverage.  This needs to be high tempo.  No ball needs to be thrown here.  Work four wide receivers at a time against four defensive backs.  They will work normal routs for three to four second goes.  If the wide out gets separation, then he wins.  If the defensive back stays manned up, then he wins.  Work about ten reps in a row before switching.  Communicate the routes with the wide outs in the fastest manner your system has, I find the best is to have all the wide outs run the same route.

Pursuit Drill– Ah, pursuit drill.  The most overly complicated drill in existence.  No other drill seems to have so many complicated ass ways of doing it.  It’s really not necessary.  Here is a highly effective pursuit drill that is also super simple.  I call it “Fire Ant” because you want your defense swarming the football like a bunch of fire ants.  Here is out it works:  you will have six cones, three on each side line.  One on the goal line, one on the ten, and one on the twenty on each side of the field.  The defense will be on the goal line in the middle of the field.  A coach will snap a ball as a faux center and the defense will step to their run fits or pass drops based off the second defensive coach’s action and start chopping their feet.  The second defensive coach will then point to a sideline and yell out the number one, two or three.  The defense will then turn sprint to that cone, break it down on that cone as a unit, and then run back and get set for the next rep.   Repeat as much desired before switching to next group.  Simple stuff.  Do this drill daily.  Put them on a timer to get there and back and set by!

Screens and PA Period– This drill is an offensive drill done while the defense does pursuit drill.  The starting offense will be on the ball on the thirty yard line going in and the entire back up core will be lined up about ten yards behind them.  The OC will call a screen or a play action pass.  (have bags set up for land marks for your screens)  The offense will then execute the call and every single person, starters and backups will sprint to the goal line and back once the ball has been caught.  On screens make sure the OL and other blockers run to the land mark before running to the goal line.  Do this drill daily.

PRACTICE SCHEDULE (with explanations)

Let’s assume that you start practice at 3:00 PM for the following example of a practice schedule:

2:45 – Pre Practice: This is where install should be as well as stance work or lineman, ball security, extra snaps, chute work, technique teachings and etcetera. 

3:00 – Team Stretch: Another thing that people tend to really over complicate.  It shouldn’t be a production.  If it takes you more than ten minutes, you’re doing it wrong.  They should be loosened up from pre practice anyways.

3:05 – Special Teams: Work Punt and PAT first at same time, every day!  Every day means every day!

3:20 – Individual Period: Get after it.  Use a high tempo

3:40 – Skelly: Ten minutes for both offense and defense

4:00 – Edge Period:  As described earlier in article.   Tuesday will be inside run. Wednesday blitz pick up.

4:10- Team D

4:30 – Team O

4:50 – SPP: Screens, PA, Pursuit

5:00 – DONE

NOTE:  If you can, have a trainer with a blow horn, use the horn to mark the start of every new period based on the schedule above.  This will help keep all groups on schedule and prevent from losing track of time!

NOTE:  For the sake of productivity, have water placed with each position group.  This way they can grab a quick swig at natural transition periods without having to leave group.  Each position coach can also control when they send their unit for water.  Also, the water they drink during practice doesn’t really help, its more of a mental and physical break than a need for water.  Coaches need to constantly push the need to drink as much as possible between practices.

This is a two hour and fifteen minute practice when you count the pre practice period.  This is probably the perfect amount of practice time.  Long enough to done what is needed, but short enough to keep tempo at a high pace and keep moral high. Below I will provide an example of a practice template:

practice template

This is a generic template anyone can find online. I’m simply providing it to you so all your coaches can be on the same page.  Obviously you can label the sections as you see fit.  The purpose here is simply to provide a template.  You can put this on a document such as google share and have all your coaches fill in what they will be doing then print it out each day and every coach will know what every coach is doing and when!

CLOSING

As practice begins in the next few days, take some time to consider how we are practicing and purpose that it serves.  Is your practice structured in a manner that provides a clear purpose?  If you can’t easily answer yes, then you should consider changing things.  I will never claim to have all the answers, or that this is the end all be all of practice templates… but it’s a pretty good start.   Subscribe to my email list so you can be notified whenever a new article comes out!  Follow me on twitter at @thecoachvogt and also check out the following EBooks:  “Installing the Wide Zone” and “The Speed-T Offense”.