conditioning

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.

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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”.

 

Why Go Wide? A look into “Installing the Wide Zone”

This article is a preview of my exclusive ebook: “Installing the Wide Zone“. It is the only resource available that comprehensively covers full installation of the system as an offensive scheme.  You will have access to drills, diagrams, change ups, and how to block the play against different fronts.

Installing the Wide Zone” is a complete guide to installing, applying and running the wide zone play, the most consistent play in football today! The book will cover philosophical applications, coaching points, drill work and change ups. This comprehensive guide is complete with diagrams for blocking different fronts, how to establish and carry out the drills necessary for the success of the play, and how to get the most out of your offense by using the wide zone system. Take your offense to the next level and incorporate the most consistently productive offensive system ever developed in the game of football!

Blocking the wide zone is very easy in concept, but requires a lot of patience, discipline, and repetitions.  So why commit to something that takes so much effort in order to run correctly?  Let’s see why:

  • It’s safe
    • You are blocking a zone instead of a man, or a gap. Each zone is accounted for by the adjacent lineman.  The lateral movement of the offensive line eliminates penetration by the defensive line.
    • It is effective against stunts and pressures. Because the zones move laterally you will find that stunts and blitzes are picked up naturally by your blockers.  This makes blitzing extremely dangerous for the defense.  Once the stunt is picked up, the runner is up and in the secondary!  There is no DB in the nation that likes to see a free running ball carrier bearing down on them.
    • No 1st level penetration. The lateral movement by the offense means that the defense line also has to move lateral or risk being overtaken.  An up field step by the down lineman results in being cut off from their assigned gap.  The use of double teams up front also forces the DL to choose; flow, or be cut off.
  • It forces the defensive front to be disciplined
    • The flow of the offense forces lineman and linebackers to maintain gap integrity and flow with the play. If just one man is not fast enough or is too fast you will have running lanes open for the ball carrier.
  • It places defenders into conflicts
    • The linebackers are taught to flow and pursue… yet doing so will cause them to get washed by the play as it cuts up behind them. The backside LBs are taught watch the cut back… but this is a cut UP play.  They will hang back and be cut off by the climbing OL.
    • The defensive line is taught not to get reached. They fight outside and the play will cut up behind them.  If they try and jump inside to stop the cut up by the back, the back takes an outside path and the offense captures the edge.
    • The secondary will be forced to make plays in the run game. This naturally puts them in a huge conflict with their assignment.  Do they play safe and let the ball carrier chew up yards? Do they come up to support the run game and give up the pass?
  • It takes what the defense gives
    • The movement of the offense takes the defenders on the path they are choosing to go. The defender will feel like they are fighting leverage.
    • This allows less athletic lineman to block much better athletes on the defense. Let’s face it, as far as linemen go, the best athletes almost always play defensive line, and now we are asking the guys not good enough to play defensive line to go block them.  Why not use a system in which the OL can use the DL’s natural athleticism and ability against him? Your OL only has to be willing to do one thing, RUN! (which we will dive into later)
    • Do not have to drive defenders off the ball. This is a big misconception with wide zone.  We are not trying to set the edge, we are trying to stretch the defense out!  If the defense gives us the edge we will take it and a big play will ensue, this happens when the defense becomes frustrated at being chewed up in between the tackles on a play that looks like an outside run.
  • Limitless complementary actions
    • You can use the same blocking scheme up front for change ups, motions, back field actions, play fakes and options. All this, without changing rules for the offensive line.
  • Universal progression
    • A TE can play center. A guard can play tackle. A center can play TE.  Every rule is the same for all offensive linemen.  They all practice the same techniques and drills.  This makes the play by its very nature, extremely injury resistant.  If somebody gets injured, you can move a starter to the edge or to center and put an inexperienced guy at guard where he is protected.

By incorporating the wide zone into your offense you will accomplish a few things.  You will have a base offense to use each week.  You may have a change up or two, but your “offense” will be the same week in and week out.  You will have a scheme that your team has master’s degrees in.  They will be confident in the play because they have run it a thousand times that week.  They know they can block anything the defense throws at them because they have had the answers drilled into them.  They don’t need to think, or analyze, they can just go play ball.

You will have an offense that can control tempo.  Whether you are a face melting spread team or a team that likes to get into 21 and 22 personnel.  You will have a system that can control the tempo with a consistent and effective ground game that stays in front of the chains. Staying in front of the chains avoids the dreaded 3rd and long.  3rd in long gets you stopped.  To many gets you beat.

You can now focus on manipulating the defense with formations.  Because you can run this play from any formation and any personnel set, you can develop as many formations as your heart desires.  This prevents the defense from practicing against your scheme, and forces them to practice lining up correctly all week long.

You will avoid becoming too scheme heavy.  Having to jump from scheme to scheme makes you fundamentally unsound.  This also leads to illogical progressions.  Switching from scheme to scheme cuts down on practice time.  You can only practice each scheme so much, then factor in each scheme vs multiple fronts. You will simply run out of time.  Having too many concepts also causes lineman to become tentative because they are unsure of the answer.  They develop paralysis by analysis.  By limiting your schemes you give your lineman the necessary repetitions in practice to be confident and play with reflex speed instead thinking speed.

CLOSING

Installing the Wide Zone” might be the key ingredient your offensive is looking for this season!  Eliminate negative plays and be sound against anything the defense tries to throw at you.  Don’t waste any more time and grab your self a copy now!   subscribe to my email list to be updated anytime I post an article and follow me here on twitter @thecoachvogt.

 

”FUN”ctional Training

How do we incentivize the “grind”? Most of your players will end up enjoying the strength training process, and seeing themselves get stronger, faster, and bigger.  But, let’s face it, the “grind” can be a dang grind sometimes.  We need to remember that these are 14 to 18 year old kids, they still like to do frivolous things and have fun.  Hell, I’m 33 and I still like to do dumb things too! So, how do we incorporate FUN into strength and conditioning and still promote, competition, toughness and functional strength? This article will touch on rewards, competition, and challenges all designed to put some fun into your training programs.  If you haven’t read my article on effective strength training then you need to go check it out here (Simple But Strong). These exercises are not meant to merely push them to compete, but to breed winners through competition.  I am not seeking competition, but DOMINATION in the weight room, on the field, and in life from my players.

REWARDS

Rewards are an obvious way to incentivize your players to train hard. But there is a catch, they cant be too frequent or they become expectations instead of extra incentive.  As far as rewards go, follow these 2 rules and the kids will want them.

1-Can they eat/Drink it; Protein bars, Candy, Protein Shakes, Fast Food

2-Can they wear it?  Will others see it? Social recognition can be important to them.

Its that simple, if it falls into one of those two categories they will compete for the chance to win.  How do you determine the winner(s)? Again, keep things simple.  Here are some examples

  • Most reps on the last set attained (pick 1 of your core movements)
  • The player who completes the conditioning portion the quickest
  • The player(s) that did not miss a day that week
  • The player who is working out with the weight closest to their old max (pick 1 core movement)
  • The player you ID as taking leadership roles (explain why as a group, and use specific examples, again social recognition)

These are all easy ways to provide some incentive and extra motivation, don’t make it a daily occurrence, or even a weekly occurrence.  About every other week or so seems to be right.  Whole team rewards are great too!  Here are some great examples of whole team rewards:

  • After lifting, instead of conditioning have some of the coaches set up a giant slip and slide outside while the players continue to lift. When they come out for conditioning and see that instead you just had an easy and huge moral boost.  They will go nuts.
  • Have an ice cream/snow cone truck show up to lifting so when they finish, it arrives and they can all go get something cold to eat. (obviously something like this would be dependent on funding, you want it to be free for them…)
  • Have T-shirts made for the players that never missed a day of training all off season

COMPETITIONS

Competitions are a great way to condition and compete at the same time.  Most of the time the players will not realize how tired they are until after the event is completed.  They can be as simple as relay races (get creative). Or as complex as games.  Divide the field into 4 separate zones that way you can have 8 teams all playing at the same time.  Gatorball is a great fast paced game that will get them all breathing hard.  Flag football is an obvious choice.  There are countless games that could be played, set it up in a tournament fashion so you have a team that is declared champions, but have the losing teams still play each other so they are still moving and competing.  Tug-A-War might be the simplest one, yet gets the most heated and competitive.  The most fun to watch…. Is towel fights.  Take a towel, roll it up and tape it.  Then have to players grab it with one hand overhand grip and the other underhanded.  Have each players hands staggered with the others.  Then say go and watch you wins, gives you an instant view into who your fighters are and who will need extra motivation to keep from quitting!

CHALLENGES

I love challenges. You can literally make anything a challenge that you are already doing in the weight room.  Here is what I choose to do.  Every Friday is called “Big Friday”.  Each Friday one of the Big 3 lifts (Push Press, Front Squat, Dead Lift) is going to done for the heaviest set of five possible instead of 5 sets of 5 across.  Rotate the lifts so they are done every 3rd week.  For example, if it is the week for Front Squat, instead of doing 5 sets of 5 at 205 pounds, the lifter will start light and work up heavier each set until he cannot get 5 reps any more. The players who get the highest total get to write their names up on the boards as king of that lift until the next time that lift is done and somebody beats them.  On the boards you will have 3 groups for the lift. OL/DL, RB/LB and WR/DB. So you will have 3 kings for each lift.  The players love to write their names and totals on the boards, and they get a big kick out of erasing the name of somebody they beat.  Here are some other simple examples:

  • Who can hold 205 the longest in a locked out Dead Lift position
  • Who can Plank the longest
  • Who can do the most push ups/sit-ups/ pull ups in a given time period.

All quick and easy to judge.  Give a reward for the winners if desired.

CLOSING

These are all simple ways to take some of the grind, out of the “grind”. As coaches, its our job to make sure we are promoting healthy competition and keeping moral high.  We want our players to want to be there.  Kids want to be successful, and they want to have fun too. There is no reason we can’t give them both. What better way to keep kids in the weight room working hard, than creating an environment in which they have fun doing it in? In doing so, you will create not competitors; but instead, you will develop Dominators! Please subscribe to my email list so you can be notified whenever I post a new article, and give me a follow on twitter at @thecoachvogt.