10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a Head Football Coach!

On March 15, 2018 I walked onto the campus of Freedom High School for my first official day as a Head Football Coach.  That was roughly 6 weeks before the writing of this article.  Both excited and nervous, I still felt I was prepared for the task at hand, as I still do.  As I am sure all of you Head Coaches out there know, as ready as you think you are, there are things that occur that nobody can tell you about.  Even as I write this article, it will be different for new Head Coaches in other places.  So here are 10 things nobody tells you about becoming Head Coach from my perspective.

  1. Hiring a Staff, is not simply hiring a staff
    1. The administration may tell you that you can hire coaches, but there is a lot more to it than that. The red tape is by no means the fault of the admin, but nonetheless it must be dealt with in order to get coaches on staff.  You have county vetting they need to pass.  There needs to be teaching spots that are open or verified as going to be open.  Your prospective staff must be hired as teachers first.  This will be a lot easier if you verify that your coaches are also good teachers.  Finding PE spots is a lot like snipe hunting these days, but find a coach that can teach math or science, and your gold!  My administration might be one of the best, as they have done everything to make sure I am going to able to hire coaches.
  2. The hold overs from the previous staff can be a huge asset
    1. A lot of times a new coach will come in and clean house, or in some cases the house will clean itself out. However, the hold overs from the previous staff that show interest in staying, should be given serious consideration.  They want to stay for a reason, most likely it is because they have a vested interest in the program and its success.  They have already put time, blood, sweat and tears into the kids and the school.  I currently have 2 hold overs from the previous staff.  They have both been tremendous assets.  They know the kids, in one case since these players were 6 years old.  They know the administration, they can tell you how they work and give insight into how to most effectively communicate with them.
  3. The things you say and do become Gospel
    1. As coaches we always try and show good character, honesty and integrity. I was still shocked at the speed of which things I established, said or incorporated got around.  Example: I enacted a weekly grade report program, I announced that this would be happening to the players during our first meeting.  Before I left campus, a dean walked up to me and told me how much he liked the idea of weekly grade checks.  Now if something positive can get around that quickly, imagine if you say or do something that can be seen in a bad light.  You better be sure you are a pillar of character and truth at all times.
  4. The life of your cell phone battery drops tremendously
    1. You will be inundated with phone calls, texts, and emails. Once you put on that whistle you become the contact point for teachers, parents, community members, deans, administration, school staff members, former players, college recruiters, and the list goes on.  Always have an answer for those that contact you, or at the least tell them you will have an answer for them as soon as possible.
  5. You may feel like a politician
    1. Reference 3 and 4. You are now held to a whole new level of accountability.  Everything you do will be scrutinized.  Stand tall and always do what you can to have an answer for people.  You now have to manage a staff, players, and even faculty and admin at times.  The days of saying “that’s a question for the head coach” are gone.  Now, you are the man with all the answers.
  6. Your family becomes more involved than ever before
    1. Family support is always a part of being a coach. As Head Coach however; the amount of support asked of them is immeasurable.  They will be at practices, they will wait up at night, so they can see you.  If your kids are young they will be in your coaches meetings just because they want that extra time with dad.  Becoming Head Coach will be huge adjustment for them.  Take that into consideration as they persevere through a unique transition period.  make sure you create time to spend with them whenever you can, time is something you can never get back and never forget your wife, I wouldn’t be where I am with mine, and I’m sure it is the same for most of us.
  7. Your significant other becomes an nonsalaried secretary
    1. In my short time as Head Coach, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my wife to take care of a task for me. Can you print this? Can you check on this? Can you call this person back for me while I do this? Do we have a file for this? What is on the agenda this week.  And this goes back to family support. Is it possible to do this job with out the support of family? Perhaps… but I know I never want to find out.  Maybe my situation is unique. All I know is this, without Karly, my life and job get a whole lot more difficult.  I will always try my best to show appreciation and do the same for her.
  8. The players will buy in immediately
    1. Your new players will be eager and ready to work. I was half expecting some stand off or resistance to the me, the new guy coming in. I could not have been more wrong.  They all immediately began to work hard.  From weight room to classroom to field, they have all been improving.  Maybe my message resonated with them, maybe I did a good job reaching them and motivating, or maybe it’s something simpler. Kids are kids.  They want to do good, they want to feel wanted and they want to play football!  If you come in and show that you care about them, and that you want them to be successful, then they will buy in!
  9. You become an administrator
    1. You will be handling much of the same things that administrators handle on a daily basis. You will: check grades, handle behavior issues, correspond with parents, track inventory, set budgets, track eligibility, develop schedules, maintain facilities, and become an authority figure for the all students in the school.
  10. You have eyes and ears everywhere
    1. I recommend everyone do this! I have developed a network of spies to help me keep tabs on the players.  A lot of the time if a player is doing something, I know about it before he is finished doing it.  This isn’t always bad, the good things the players do get reported too, so they can be acknowledge and rewarded!  Step one: get access to a walkie-talkie from the administration.  This gives you immediate communication and Intel in live time across the campus.  Step two: enlist the help of the front office personnel.  I now know every single time a player is late to school.  Step three: send out a faculty wide email list of your current players on the roster so teachers can report to you as well.  Step four: enlist the janitorial staff.  They are the unsung heroes of the school, and they see absolutely everything that goes on with the students, staff, faculty and admin.

CLOSING

Hopefully this gives you some insight into some things that happen when you become a Head Football Coach.  I wouldn’t say any of the items on the list are a negative thing.  Just things to be aware of, utilize and make sure you don’t take for granted. Id like to say a special thank you to Karly Marie Vogt.  I can’t imagine life without you or where I’d be.  I know my time and focus seems to always be on football, but I promise you, that you and our children are always in my heart!

Subscribe to the email list to be updated whenever I post an article, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

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The Lost Art of the 4 Minute Offense

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It is one of the saddest things I see happen to football teams, and I see it happen just about every week during football season.  I can guarantee most of you have as well.  You have a football team who has possession of the football, has the lead, and there are 3 minutes or so left on the clock. What happens next I find sad and unfortunate for the players of this team.  The offense, in its own infatuation with as many plays as possible, as many points as possible ends up getting stopped while only using up 30 to 40 seconds of clock.  The other team’s offense takes the field with 2:30 seconds and 2 to 3 time outs left, and proceeds to go down the field, score, and win the game.  Had the first team simply slowed down, even if they snap the ball fewer times, still got stopped, but used up 1:30 to 2:30 seconds of clock, it would be much more likely for their own defense to seal the win for them.  Now the other team fields their offense with 30 seconds to 1 minute left, now they have to resort to big plays and/or trick plays.

In this situation, traditional knowledge and coaching would dictate that you grind out the clock.  What I mean by that, is you take your time between snaps, you call plays that will keep the clock running, and utilize formations that allow you to call these plays regardless of defensive look. You might be a spread tempo team, and I’m not here to talk you out of your belief system and doing what you do.  Lots of teams win lots of games running spread, and going fast.  What I am here to do is make a case for the 4 minute offense!

WHY THE 4 MINUTE OFFENSE

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At some point it is going to happen.  There is no way around it. It is going to happen whether you like it or not.  YOU WILL HAVE TO LINE UP AND PLAY NASTY BALL! It may be down on the goal line, it could be 4th and short, it might be raining and spitting nasty weather, or you may have to chew up some clock to win the game. When this happens, you better be able to buckle up, get under center and do some gut punching! I am a firm believer that every team should have the ability to take snaps under center, and here is why:

  • The QB wedge and Fullback wedge. Its quick, its dirty, it gets first downs.  First downs turn to touch downs.
  • The path of the running backs are more downhill and aggressive in nature.
  • For your play actions and misdirection plays, the QB has his back to the defense

I am also a firm believer that everyone should have the ability to get into 21 and 22 personnel, and here is why:

  • It creates extra run gaps/lanes for the ball carriers.
  • It brings more bodies to the point of attack.
  • It makes it more difficult for the defense to outnumber you on the edges or in the box.
  • It is both physically and mentally tough on the defense, especially the defensive backs.
  • Easy to get into unbalanced formations

FINDING PERSONNEL

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I know, I know…. I hear some of you already.  “We just don’t have those type of guys coach.”  Well sit down, because you may not like what comes next.  That excuse is a nothing more than a cop out.  Everybody has those guys.  Be a dang coach and get them in the right spots.  The perceived lack of “guys” for a spot has nothing to do with players, and everything to do with coaches.  Period.  You have them I promise.  We are not here to cater to the desires of 14 to 18 year old kids.  We are here to build men of character, provide guidance, promote education, develop relations, and win games (yes this should be last).  Here is where you can find your tight ends and full backs:

  • Defensive lineman, use the non-starters, or use the starters if 21/22 is just going to be a special situation offense for you.
  • Linebackers, same deal as the D-Line
  • Bigger bodied wide outs
  • Back up offensive linemen
  • Bigger bodied running backs

WHAT PLAYS TO RUN

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The best part about the 4 minute offense, is you do not need to change any of your base concepts. The running game that is prevalent in the spread offense all have roots in 2 back formations.  You can call the same plays.  The rules for your offensive lineman will not change.  You are simply using personnel to create more gaps, and bring more bodies to the point of attack so you can chew up yards and eat clock.   Below I will diagram the most common spread running plays out of 22 personnel.

Inside Zone:

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Power O:

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Wide Zone:

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Counter GT:

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Isolation:

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CLOSING

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The 4 minute offense seems to be a lost art.  The ego that point averages seem to create is leading many coaches astray from basic game strategy concepts.  In the end, only one average matters.  The average amount of times you take the field and leave with a W! It is like I previously stated, every single team needs to have the ability to get under center and get in 22/21 personnel.  Regardless of your base offensive scheme.  The best modern example of this is the New England Patriots.  They are 4 and 5 wide 90 to 95 percent of the time.  However, when it is time to put the game away, they are undoubtedly the best 22/21 personnel team I have ever seen.  They have no qualms about jumping into 2 back sets, getting Brady under center and gut punching the defense all the way down the field.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

 

The Lost Art of Belly

“The fear of the belly, makes all other plays indefensible.”

Few things make defensive coaches pull out their hair quite like the good ole Belly.  It’s a quick hitting, power play that takes advantage of the natural weakness of the C gap.  Defenses are forced to declare when they are committing to stopping the belly.  It is difficult to lose yards because the speed in which the play hits.  When committing to stopping the belly, the defense will leave themselves open to all other plays.  The belly is a great set up play for other run plays, but specifically toss, jet and counter match up with the belly almost seamlessly, and the play action game off belly can be devastating!

BELLY HISTORY

“Belly” refers to the action of the quarterback and the fullback in which the quarterback will ride the fullback’s path with ball in his belly.  First implemented by Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech in the 1950s out of the “T” formation.  By the 1970s the belly had evolved to an entire series complete with companion plays.  You have Belly Dive (IZ), Belly G, Belly Option and even Belly Stretch (WZ).  The most common application of the belly is the Belly G, any wing-t guy worth his salt runs the Belly G religiously.  But these fellows are becoming less and less common.  The belly is becoming a lost art, it is not seen often, if at all in some areas of the country.

THE BASICS

Regardless of the variant being run, the footwork between the QB and FB will always be the same.  The QB will reverse out and step flat down the line to intercept the path of the FB and put the ball in his belly.  The FB will take a flat step, a crossover step and then step down hill at the tackles outside leg for an aim point.  It is important that the fullback keeps his shoulders square during the flat step and crossover step.  The tail back should do one of the following depending on your scheme/variant: carry out a fake (toss/jet), or get into pitch relationship with the QB.  Your quarter back should fake the option after handing the ball off if he is the mobile type.  For a more pro-style QB I like to have him fake a pass drop after he hands off the ball.

BELLY G

For the sake of this article we will focus on the most common variant is the Belly G.  The offensive line will scoop on the backside and gap block on the frontside. It is important to know that the playside tackle needs to gap all the way down to the A gap when a shade nose is present to help prevent penetration.  The playside guard will pull with a tight downhill path and kickout the playside edge defender, if the edge defender is spilling, the guard will log and pin him in so the FB can bounce.  If there is a wing to the playside then he will arc release and pin the playside linebacker, placing his head in front.  This variant in particular works extremely well in conjunction with a toss fake or a jet sweep fake.  Here is a diagram of Belly G vs a 50 front:

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Here are some film clips of Belly G:

BELLY COMPANIONS

If you are going to run the Belly G, I recommend you to have companions to go along with it.  When you effectively run the Belly G it will be so feared that the defense will clearly show you when they are selling out to stop it.  This fact makes it near impossible to stop your companion plays!  You will fake the Belly G and give the ball to a different back.  The fake does not have to be exact, it just needs to have the same initial action by the backs and OL to be highly effective.  Your companion plays should fall into 2 categories: same side companion, and opposite side companion.  Examples of same side plays would be jet sweep, toss and option.  Examples of opposite side plays would be counter and reverse.

Here are some examples of toss as a same side companion, toss is a great way to take advantage of edge players that are playing hard inside and spilling.  Take a look:

Here are a few examples of counter as an opposite side companion. Use counter when the defenses backside players are over pursuing to the playside. Take a look:

PLAY ACTION

Play action pass can be absolutely devastating off of a belly fake, especially when used in conjunction with formations that force the secondary into run fit responsibilities.  This places the defensive backs into a conundrum.  They must play the belly to support the run game, yet if they do, they leave open quick strike passing opportunities. The trick is to call them at the right moment.  Here are a few examples of what can happen when called at the correct moment:

CLOSING

The Belly Series is not something that has been common for some time.  But if you are in the search for that missing piece of your offense, it just may be the ticket.  Highly effective, quick hitting, multiple variants, and the ability to open up multiple set up plays.  If you wish to learn how to incorporate the belly into your current offense then check out the, TheCoachVogt.com installation page HERE where it is part of the Pro-T offensive series.  Follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt and be sure to subscribe to the email list so you can be updated every time a new article is posted.

 

 

5×5 For Adults With Jobs

5×5 might be the most effective lifting program for all around strength and hypertrophy.  Multiple sets give you volume needed for hypertrophy and 5 reps per set allow for heavy weight to be used.  It’s the best of both worlds.  You get adequate load used, as well as adequate time under tension (how long the weight is being lifted for.)  What are the draw backs? For a busy person with a job, especially if it’s a job that requires travel, or long hours like coaching, 5×5 can simply take too much time.  Throw having kids into the mix and it can be downright impossible to spend that much time in the gym.  So, how do we mitigate the time constraints of being an adult, and still be responsible for our own health and well being?  That is the question that I am going to answer for you in this article.

This program will divide your work outs into 2, 3 day rotations with 1 day off between rotations.  Example schedule will look like this: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, off. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, off. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, off, and so forth.

Each workday should take no more than 30 minutes.  If it takes any longer than that, as I have said before in previous articles, your doing it wrong.  Time between sets should be no more than 2 minutes; but try for 90 seconds or less if you can.   Each day is going to focus on just 1 main lift, and 1 supplemental lift that will be incorporated into your conditioning circuit after the main lift is done.

THE BIG LIFTS AND STARTING WEIGHTS

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You will have 6 BIG LIFTS to focus on for this work out program.

Rotation 1 Lifts are: Push Press, Front Squat and Dead Lift.  The coinciding supplemental lifts are Pull ups, Sit Ups and Barbell Curls.

Rotation 2 lifts are: Bench Press or Weighted Dip, Back Squat and Power Cleans.  The supplemental lifts for rotation 2 are: Barbell Rows, Ab Wheel or Variant and Chin Ups.

For each of the Big Lifts you will choose one of the following starting weights: 115, 135, 185, 225, 275, 315, 365, 385, 405.  Always choose lighter than you think you will need to begin this program.  So, if you are pretty certain you could get 5 sets of 5 at 225 pounds, you should start at 185 to give you room for steady progression.

SETS AND REPS

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As the title fore tells you will be doing 5 sets of 5 reps.  You will keep the same weight across all sets. On your last set you will try for as many reps as possible while maintaining good form.  Some days you will feel great and get 6-10 reps, other days you will struggle to get 5 and that’s OK.  If you get ALL 5 reps on ALL 5 sets then you will increase the weight by 10 pounds.  If you miss just 1 single rep, you will keep the same weight and try again next rotation.

SUPPLEMENTAL LIFTS AND CONDITIONING

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To save time you will combine your supplemental lifts with conditioning into a circuit consisting of 3 to 10 rounds or in an “as many rounds as possible” in 10 to 15 minute time windows.  These circuits are NOT cardio, they are metabolic conditioning. Your supplemental lifts should aim for 30-50 total reps by the end of the circuit. There are several ways to go about doing this.  An easy way is to look at something like CrossFit’s website for the WOD and just add your supplemental lift to the WOD or replace an exercise with yours.  I like to get creative.  Here is an example for Push Press day:

10 rounds of: 5 pull ups, 10 kettlebell swings, 10 kettlebell thrusters.  Personally I like to make my conditioning circuit a full body circuit. So, even though my main lift will be either upper, leg, or hip focused, the MetCon can hit the entire body.  This is good for strength, fat burn and overall muscular development.

CLOSING

This workout takes one of the most effective workout programs ever developed and makes it applicable to the everyday working man.  Everybody can take 30 minutes or less for a workout.  If you have to miss a day because of responsibilities, its no big deal.  The scheduling of the program allows you to simply pick up where ever you left off.  Give this program a try for 3 months, if you can do that consistently paired with good diet and good sleeping habits you will get stronger and in better condition.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

10 Ways to Effectively Bring Pressure

Just like everything else we game plan in football, the pressures we bring defensively should be calculated and precise.  We want to maximize the chance of success and mitigate any failures to reach the QB.  Bringing pressure can do 2 things typically; it can wreak havoc on the offense or it can spell doom for the defense.  The old saying “live by the blitz: die by the blitz” is what we want to avoid.  When done correctly, a sophisticated pressure package can be unstoppable.

The first thing that should be done is identification of all the protections that the offensive line is going use, and when they are going to use them.  Once identified, you should target the weak spots of that particular protection.  For instance, in half slide the weak point is the side where the RB is responsible for a linebacker and pressures that come from the opposite direction of the slide.  Big on Big protection the weak points will be between covered linemen.  Once you have determined where to attack, your pressure will only be consistently effective if you use them within these 2 parameters: 1-bring more than the offense has to block. 2-bring pressure from where the offensive line cannot see the blitzer coming.  I will provide 10 ways to effectively bring pressure using these guidelines.

BRING MORE THAN THEY GOT

This is pretty self-explanatory. If you bring more bodies than they have, one will come free.  The down side is you take an extra defender out of coverage.  There are countless variations you can use, but here are 4:

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COME FROM BLIND SPOTS

These are what I call money blitzes.  They are highly effective because the OL can’t see where the blitz is coming from.  You need to do your homework and scout though!  Attack the protection in its weak spots where the OL has no chance to see you coming.  The cost of these pressures is low as well, as they allow you to keep defenders in coverage.

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  2. B Gap Exchangeimg_2474
  3. A Gap Exhangeimg_2475
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COMBINATIONS

If you really want to cause chaos you can bring more than they have and bring them from blind spots!  You can really get creative and have fun here, just don’t try and do too much.

  1. Mike A Gap Exchange Overloadimg_2478
  2. Willie A Gap Exchange Overloadimg_2477

 

CLOSING

Would I do all of these? NO!  I would game plan these week to week.  These would be specialized pressures based on the offensive attack we are facing that week.  The bulk of your prep should be working on your base defense and being structurally sound to all formations and plays the offense will show you.  Through proper game planning you identify the spots and times that you should bring pressure to disrupt the offense and force them to punt or cause a turnover.  Make sure you subscribe with your email address to get updates whenever a new article posts! I would encourage you to check out “The Most Versatile DefensePart 1 and Part 2.   Follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

FOOTBALL & THE ART OF WAR

 

There are many great books available on coaching, leadership and strategy.  I often get asked; what are good books to use as resources for football?  There are several that come to mind, such as: The Assembly Line by Milt Tenopir, Complete Offensive Line Play by Rick Trickett and all of Tony Dungy’s books.  There is however, one book that was written centuries ago that stands out to me.  It is one of the best reads available on the art of leadership and strategy.  The book is The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  The book clearly is about warfare, but almost all of its principles can be applied to football and leadership.  I will go through The Art of War and demonstrate how these concepts play a role in our game and roles as leaders.  This review will cover first 8 chapters, as they are dealing with leadership and tactics.  The remaining chapters are concerning the movement of troops and using terrain to house the troops.  I do encourage you to read the book in its entirety, especially the chapters dealing with Spies and Fire, good stuff there even if it’s not relatable to football.

CHAPTER 1 – LAYING PLANS

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  1. Sun Tzu – The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road to safety or to ruin.
    1. While football and coaching may not have the finalities of what Sun Tzu says about war, it’s easy to see the correlation. Football is often vitally important to the school (state).  The moral and economic boost that football provides are undeniable.  Football also provides an avenue for student athletes to be successful.  In its most literal sense, football can be the difference between a life of ruin, or a life of success for our players, we have all seen this in some facet or another.
  2. Sun Tzu – The art of war is governed by 5 constant factors: Moral Law, Heaven, Earth, The Commander and Method and Discipline.
    1. Sun Tzu goes into detail about what each factor means for warfare, but for football the connection is apparent
      1. Moral Law – the standards of behavior and accountability set by your program
      2. Heaven – the passing attack or defense
      3. Earth – the rushing attack or defense
      4. The Commander – the Head Coach who stands for virtue, wisdom, courage and strictness
      5. Method and Discipline – Marshaling the team into its proper position areas for coaching, providing rank among staff and players, maintenance of equipment and control of expenditure both physical and financial.
  1. Sun Tzu – The 5 factors should be familiar to every general and he who knows them shall be victorious; he who knows them not, shall fail.
    1. I believe what Sun Tzu is saying here is you have to be able to establish all of these factors into your team (army) in order to be successful. I feel this is 100 percent true.  It is displayed on a yearly basis for us to see.  We have all seen the team loaded with athletes but no discipline.  They get off the bus and you think you’re in trouble, then you beat them by 30 points.  Or the team that gets off the bus and you think you will handle them no problem, then they proceed to throttle the opponent.
  2. Sun Tzu – when making your deliberations, when seeking to determine conditions let them be made on these 7 considerations for you can forecast victory or defeat before the battle has begun. 1-Which army is imbued with the Moral Law? 2-Which of the two generals has the most ability? 3-With whom lies the advantages of heaven and earth? 4-On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? 5-Which army is stronger? 6-On which side are officers and men more highly trained? 7-In which army is there greater constancy both in reward and punishment?
    1. Let’s break this down for football!
      1. Which team is most in accord with the program?
      2. Which Coach is most knowledgeable in the game and able to motivate players?
      3. Who has the better passing/ground attack/defense?
      4. Which team is more disciplined?
      5. Which team is more talented?
      6. Which team is better prepared?
      7. Which team has consistency in accountability?
  1. Sun Tzu – One should modify ones plans in accordance to which of the 7 circumstances are in your favor.
    1. Pretty obvious here, game plan to your strengths so you can exploit the opposing teams weakness.
  2. Sun Tzu – All warfare is based on deception. When able to attack, appear unable. When using our forces, appear inactive. When close, appear far. When far, appear near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy, and crush him. Attack him where he is unprepared and where you are not expected.
    1. Wow! I know all the wing-T guys out there are nodding in firm agreement for sure. Offensively clearly this applies to counters, misdirection, fakes, all option reads and play actions.  Defensively this applies to stemming and moving fronts, disguising blitzes, rolling to coverages not previously aligned in, etc…   this is one of my favorite points made by Sun Tzu
  3. Sun Tzu – If the enemy is stronger than you, avoid him.
    1. If your opponent has a power 5 commit at defensive end, probably not a good idea to go that direction lol.
  4. Sun Tzu – the general who makes many calculations before the battle is fought is the general who wins.
    1. As coaches we need to scout, game plan and prepare for all possible scenarios so our players have the highest chance possible for success.

CHAPTER 2 – WAGING WAR

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  1. Sun Tzu – When you engage in actual battle, if victory is long in coming, the mens weapons will dull and their ardor will be damped. You will exhaust your strength. The resources of the state will not be able to equal the strain. Then no man, no matter how wise can avert the consequences. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
    1. Here, Sun Tzu is clearly waring of the dangers of a prolonged battle or war. This applies to football in the sense that one will significantly increase odds for victory if you put the other team away early. Get the mercy clock running and take away all chance for the opponent to come back, shorten the game by controlling clock once you have established significant lead.  The longer a team is able to hang around the less likely you are to seal victory.  A back and forth game ultimately results in a longer game and both teams odds of winning begins to equalize.  Those games with scores of 58-62 come to mind here or 14-10 on the opposite end. The point is, you need to put the other team away early to avoid exhausting your players and giving the other team a chance to fight back.
  2. Sun Tzu – In order to kill the enemy, our men must be aroused to anger.
    1. To me what Sun Tzu is saying here is that it is up to coaches to mentally, and emotionally prepare our players for the game. We want and need them to on edge, stimulated and excited for what is going to happen in the coming moments.  The “hype” before the game starts so to speak.
  3. Sun Tzu – In defeating the enemy, there must be rewards. Reward the soldiers who take an enemy chariot. Reward the soldier who eliminates large numbers of the opposing force. Reward the soldiers who sacrifice own glory for the victory of the army.
    1. Turn over chains come to mind here lol. But it also stresses the importance of acknowledging individual and group performances.  As well as rewarding those who put team before themselves so the game can be won week in and week out.
  4. Sun Tzu – May it be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the peoples fate. The man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or peril. The man who the responsibility of defeat fall upon, yet he must give out responsibility for victory to his men.
    1. Here Sun Tzu is refereeing to where the public eye is going to be. That is clearly on the Head Coach.  In defeat all blame is falls on his shoulders and he must take it and overcome it.  In victory the credit must be given to the assistants and to the players.  That is the burden of being the man in charge.

CHAPTER 3 – ATTACK BY STRATAGEM

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  1. Sun Tzu – In the art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy whole and intact. To shatter and destroy is not as good. It is better to capture the army than to destroy it.  Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.  The highest form of generalship is to prevent the deployment of the enemies forces, next is to attack the enemy in the field, and worst is to attack a walled city.
    1. Sun Tzu’s words here reflect the high regard he has for defeating an enemy without fighting. I feel this applies to the “new” head coach coming into a program.  you want to win the battle of bringing all coaches into your new direction.  To dismantle the staff and have to find and hire a new one is difficult and often can cause discord among players, and remaining staff members.  It is better to keep the current staff if possible. As long as they will fit in with the new direction of the program, or are willing to learn to fit, it is better to absorb them than to cut them out.
  2. Sun Tzu – There are 3 ways in which a general can bring misfortune upon his army: 1-By commanding an attack or retreat when the army cannot take action to obey. 2-By governing an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom and being ignorant of the conditions of his soldiers. 3-By employing officers of his army without discrimination.
    1. Three was a Head Coach can bring discord into his program
      1. By forcing the team to do things they are not able to do. Whether in training, offensively or defensively. For example, no reason to run spread if you have 5’10 wide receivers that all run over 5 second 40’s.
      2. By governing the players in the same manner as his assistant coaches. The players will be emboldened and lack respect and the assistants will lack motivation and desire to lead.
      3. By choosing assistants without lots of thought and deliberation before giving them access to his players
  1. Sun Tzu – There are 5 essentials for victory. 1-Know when to fight and when not to fight. 2-know how to handle superior and inferior forces. 3-Animate your army with the same spirit through all their ranks. 4-Be prepared and take the enemy when he is not. 5-Have a military that is not interfered with by the sovereign.
    1. The 5 essentials for a successful program
      1. Knowing when and where to attack the opponent. Knowing what fights are worth having and which ones are best let go.
      2. Knowing how to handle a team that has athletes and one that does not. This should be applied to both the coaching of them, and against them.
      3. The spirit of the team should be the same through all players and coaches. Do your best to attain this.
      4. Prepare yourself, your team and your assistants in all possibilities and strike the opponent in places they are not prepared.
      5. A successful program is one that is not hindered by the administration of the school.
  1. Sun Tzu – If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but not your enemy, you will suffer a defeat for every victory gained. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
    1. Scout the opponent to know them like you know yourself. Watch so much film that you know what they will do before they do it.  Hold your assistants to the same standards.  If you don’t know the enemy like yourself they will catch you unprepared.  If you don’t know yourself you should not be a Head Coach.

CHAPTER 4 – TACTICAL DISPOSITIONS

TD11

  1. Sun Tzu – to secure oneself against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity for defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. Thus a good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy.
    1. Here Sun Tzu touches on the importance of being defensively sound, but this does not ensure victory. Only that you are securing yourself from being beaten, while waiting for the opportunity to strike.
  2. Sun Tzu – Standing defensive, shows insufficient strength, but open attacking shows a super abundance of strength. The general skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth, but the general skilled in attack strikes from the topmost heights of heaven but does so exposing himself to possible defeat.
    1. I believe what Sun Tzu is trying to imply here is that you need to be effective both offensively and defensively to ensure a total victory. You must play sound defensive football and be able to score points.
  3. Sun Tzu – To lift an autumn hair is no sign of strength, to see the moon is no sign of keen sight, to hear thunder is no sign of sharp hearing. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes certain victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. Hence a skillful fighter puts himself in a place where he cannot be defeated and does not miss the opportunity to defeat the enemy when the moment arrives.
    1. This reminds me of a quote- “Beware the old man in a profession in which most die young.” This applies to the Head Coach being able to put his team in situations that are favorable to victory.  Having a disciplined team that won’t make mistakes, and knowing exactly when to attack the enemy to seal victory.  He knows how to play sound on defense and how to strike explosively on offense.
  4. Sun Tzu – In war, the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won. The consummate leader cultivates moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.
    1. This again goes back to being prepared for you opponent. As coaches we should know the opponent where they are strong, where they are weak.  Where you should defend and where you should strike. The coaches that have the strength of a high team moral, and have players that are disciplined can have much greater control over the outcome of a game than ones that do not.

CHAPTER 5 – ENERGY

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  1. Sun Tzu – The control of a large force is the same principal as the control of a few men; it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers. Fighting with a large force is the same as fighting with a small force; it is merely a question of instituting signs and signals.
    1. This statement is referring to delegation and communication, both are essential to the success of a program. The responsibilities of the coaching staff should be delegated appropriately.  Effective communication and transparency will make the program run smoothly and keep everybody on the same page.
  2. Sun Tzu – In battle, the direct method may be used for joining, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.
    1. Starting the game is direct, the nuances of play calling and knowing when to deceive, strike and defend are the indirect methods of battle.
  3. Sun Tzu – Energy may be likened to the bending of a bow, and the release of the arrow likened to making a decision.
    1. I feel Sun Tzu is referring to the tension before a battle, or in the coaching world before a game, or big play call after a time out. Once the decision has been made and the ball is snapped that energy is released.
  4. Sun Tzu – The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize their energy.  Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet high.
    1. Sun Tzu is obviously talking about how to pick out your leaders! They will be identified by their high levels of energy and not having the need to be motivated by others.  They are the motivators themselves.  They can use their energy to infect their teammates and you can ride that momentum to victory. The leaders of your team should be identified early so they be put in place to utilize their natural gift of imbuing energy onto others.

CHAPTER 6 – WEAK POINTS AND STRONG POINTS

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  1. Sun Tzu – Whoever is first to the field of battle and awaits the enemy will be fresh, whoever arrives second will be exhausted from travel.
    1. Home field advantage! And if you are traveling, make sure you leave early enough to let your players recover from the bus ride.  I am a big believer in arriving as early as possible to allow this for your players.
  2. Sun Tzu – Make the enemy approach of his own accord, then inflict damage to keep him from drawing near.
    1. I can’t help but think of the offense when I read that. Draw the enemy in with your run game, then inflict damage with a quick strike play action pass for big yards or a touch down to back them back off.  The same can be said of the spread offenses bubble pass attack and deep strikes that are set up because of them.
  3. Sun Tzu – You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks, only if you attack places which are undefended. You can be sure of defending your position only if you hold a position that cannot be attacked. A general skillful in attack keeps the enemy from knowing where to defend; a general skillful in defense keeps the enemy from knowing where to attack.
    1. This is the numbers game at its most basic point. Attack the defense in areas they are not defending.  Wing-T guys have perfected this.  I believe this concept is also what led to the spread attack.  Spread the defense out and find the spot they leave open and attack.  On the defensive side, this goes into game planning to make sure you defend what the offense does best. To have it broken down even more, defend what they do where and when they do it.
  4. Sun Tzu – Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength comes from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us.
    1. Again I think of offense here. Force the enemy to prepare for multiple things.  I choose to use formations.  I want the defense lining up to formations all weak instead of practicing defending my plays.
  5. Sun Tzu – Carefully compare the enemy with yourself, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.
    1. Scouting and game planning. You should know exactly who/where to attack and avoid.  The more you study your opponent the more you will understand and come to know them.
  6. Sun Tzu – He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
    1. What is your ability to adjust on the fly? All great coaches have the ability to do this. You must be able to identify what the other team is doing and adjust to give your team the best opportunities you can give them for success on the field.

We are going to skip chapter 7 as it has to do with moving armies through country side.

CHAPTER 8 – VARIATIONS IN TACTICS

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  1. Sun Tzu – In the wise leader’s plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.
    1. I feel this refers to planning around your personnel. Know where your strengths and weakness lay. Know where the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses lay.  Then try and attack their weakness with your strength.
  2. Sun Tzu – In the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune.
    1. This is stating that we need to always be ready to strike. To identify a weakness and take the opportunity. Even if the game is not going in our favor we must remain ready and vigilant.  How many times have you seen a game completely turn around because of one play? Think of the pick 6, or the strip 6.  Think of a long touchdown run or reception.  We must always be looking for these opportunities and we must train our players to attack them with relentless aggression when they arrive.
  3. Sun Tzu – Reduce the hostile chiefs by inflicting damage on them; make trouble for them and keep them constantly engaged. Hold out specious allurements and make them rush to any given point.
    1. I absolutely love this! We always plan to attack and scheme against players.  Sometimes the most effective thing to do is attack the opposing coach.  What I mean by that is make him constantly coach on the fly. Hold out baits, break your own keys and attack in areas that you have not shown on film, then go back to what you have shown.  If you can confuse and frustrate the coach on the other sideline, the team will descend into confusion with him as well.
  4. Sun Tzu – The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likely hood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our readiness to receive him. Not on the chance of his attacking, but rather that we have made our own position unassailable.
    1. I like to think of defense when I read this statement. When establishing a defensive game play, we must be prepared for all possible outcomes and ways the offense may choose to attack us.  It’s when the offense catches us in something we are unprepared for, that is when a route ensues.
  5. Sun Tzu – There are 5 besetting sins that will prove ruinous to a general. When an army is defeated and leader is slain, the cause will most surely be found among these 5 dangerous faults. 1-recklessness, which leads to destruction. 2-cowardice, which leads to capture. 3-a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insult. 4-a delicacy of honor, which is sensitive to shame. 5-over solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
    1. While I believe number 5 is not applicable to us as coaches, the first 4 definitely are! All 4 can very quickly lead a program into disarray and chaos.  A reckless coach will put his players in danger with unsafe practices and training protocols or take too many chances in his play calling. A cowardly coach can be too easily influence by assistance, administration, parents or even players.  A short temper has never worked out long term for any coach. (minus Saban lol) Finally, a coach that is over sensitive wont last long in this world.  You will be judged, criticized and harassed.  It goes with the job and title of coach/leader.  You are put there to make the decisions and deal with any and all consequences. That’s why they call you coach!

CLOSING

As you can see, Sun Tzu didn’t just know about war and fighting, he knew about leadership! The tactics used to overcome and enemy are easy to correlate to the game of football; but I feel the advice that he gives on leadership is invaluable. I enjoyed reading this whole book and I do recommend reading the whole book yourself! It can be found for download on various sights all over the internet.  The chapters on the use of fire and the chapter on spies are very interesting.  Subscribe to my email list to receive the weekly news letters and bonus football related content and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

10 Steps to be a Good Offensive Coordinator

Sometimes calling plays can be a daunting task.  Especially if you are new to holding the call sheet.  In order to gain confidence and be able to call plays effectively I have provided 10 steps that will help you become a good Offensive Coordinator.

  1. Coach Defense
    1. I started my coaching career on the defensive side of the ball. I would highly suggest that if you want to be an offensive coordinator that you spend time coaching defense.  Nothing will give you better insight as to what will cause problems for a defense than spending time trying to coach against those same concepts.  As an offensive coach you will also be able to think like a defensive coach, because you’ve been there.
  2. Coach the Offensive Line
    1. It is my belief that nobody should take an OC job until they have spent at least one season coaching the offensive line, even if it’s just as an assistant OL coach. It’s an entirely different world and you need to understand that world.  Nothing dictates what an offense can do like the offensive line, and nobody understands what the offense can do, more than the OL coach.
  3. Establish an Effective Ground Game
    1. Good football teams can and will run the ball. You need to have at least 1 play that your offense can run out of any formation and against any front, and always get yards.  Even if you’re an “air raid” team, you better be able to run the rock.  At some point you will have to, it is going to happen and you better be able to pound it in there.
  4. Run a Limited Amount of Plays
    1. If your playbook looks like a medical manuscript… you are doing it wrong. You want to have a small number of plays that your athletes can run to perfection, no matter what the defense throws at them.  When the lights come on and the bullets are live, your players will resort to instinct. You cant have them play with reflex speed if they are thinking about what they need to do, they need to just know what needs to be done.  Trim your play book down and your offense will instantly get better.  I get into detail on this concept in this article here (What’s Your System)
  5. Learn to Place Defenders Into Conflicts
    1. As much as you want your players, playing with reflex speed… you want the opposite for defenders. You want them hesitating, thinking and NOT, playing fast.  You can place defenders in conflicts many ways.
      1. Having plays that look like other plays
      2. Using formations to force the secondary into run fits instead of just focusing on pass responsibilities(love doing this). Reading defenders in options and RPOs
      3. Using motions , fakes and mis-directions
  1. Learn to ID and Use Personnel
    1. Scout who to attack and who to avoid. Spend time developing ways to get your best players matched up on their worst players.  Find ways to get DB’s taking on lead blocks or formationing them into playing on the LOS.  Use formations and motions to get LBs matched up on RBs and WRs.  And always find multiple ways, to get your play makers the football.
  2. Take Advantage of Numbers and Angles
    1. Wing-T guys all know the advantages angles can give you. If you can get the defense outflanked with a formation, a simple toss can be flat stealing yards (or bubble if your spread).  Numbers should be a no brainer.  If you have more bodies than the defense does your in good shape.  In this article I break down in detail how to use numbers to your advantage, and its quite simple. Check it out here (A Systemic Attack)
  3. Manufacture “Shots”
    1. You need to have at least 1 or 2 plays each week that will take a shot at the end zone. You can set it up how you see fit, but it needs to be used in a situation that will exploit a defender in conflict.  One of my favorite ways is to force DBs to play in the run game, then have a specific play action route that targets that defender’s area of the field.  Often times it’s just a 1 man route.  But it can a double move, a trick play, or anything that will pick on that guy you have place into a conflict situation.
  4. Have the Ability to Get in 21 Personnel
    1. Nothing is more disappointing than watching a team that has the game won, but they can’t seal the win because they don’t have the ability to play nasty ball. 4 minute offense is just as important as hurry up.  Blistering tempo is all fine and dandy, but you need to understand when it’s time to slow down and put the game away.  Even the patriots understand this.  They are almost exclusively air raid with Tom Brady, but when it’s time the put the game away, they are without a doubt the best 21 personnel team I have ever seen.
  5. Develop Trust
    1. Maybe the most important one here. You need to trust you’re your system. Trust your coaching staff and trust your players.  If your coaches are repeatedly telling you something is there… guess what, it probably is!  Listen to them!  Same goes for your players. I can’t even tell you how many times big hitting plays were called by one of the players themselves.

BONUS-Learn to Self Scout! Scout your own tendencies and then break them to keep the defense off balance.

CLOSING

I feel this guide can really help both new and old offensive coordinators increase their production.  Comment and add ideas! What are some things that are on your list??  Subscribe to my email list for weekly updates, and if you’re not following me on twitter your missing out!  Check out my page here @thecoachvogt and hit the follow button.