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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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Find Your Number 1!

“I fear not the man who knows 10,000 kicks.  I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times!” -Bruce Lee-

punch

Roy Jones Jr, Rocky Marciano, Joe “Brown Bomber” Lewis, and Floyd Mayweather. What do they all have in common?  Other than being phenomenal fighters, they all are known for the straight right hand.  you know its coming, its their best and most frequently used punch.  They throw it all the time, and they land it.  Why?  Lets look at wrestling and Olympian and NCAA champion Jon Smith.  The low single is coming, no doubles, no ankle picks, no throws.  Just the low single, and guess what? He is going to get it and take his opponent down.

These legendary athletes were never hard to scout.  Every fan in the stands or watching from home knows exactly what is coming.  The problem is, its coming from all types of angles.  All types of looks.  All types of different scenarios.  It must be defended at all times.  The opponent must be sound against it in all aspects of his game plan!

The point that I am trying to make here is that all of the greats find what they are good at, believe in it and rep it thousands of times!  How does this apply to football you might ask; well I as you this, HOW DOES IT NOT?!  I can tell you now, that when I am scouting a team that we will play, I never get nervous when I see a plethora of different blocking schemes.  More often than not they are mediocre at all of them and if you stop one, one time they illogically jump to another scheme. Want to know what makes me nervous?  When I scout a team and they run 2 or 3 plays, and they run them over, and over, and over.  They have PhD.’s in those plays. They come from all different formations, from multiple looks. What makes it worse is if their number 2 or number 3 plays look just like number 1!  That is a nightmare!

system

I’m sure all of you can think of somebody you play that is like this. Some real life examples I can give are Bishop Moore in Orlando, FL and Gold Beach in Gold Beach, OR.  It is no secret the speed sweep is coming when you play Bishop Moore.  You are going to have to stop it.  Not once, twice or three times; but all night long.  You will have to stop it and be sound against it from multiple formations, looks and set ups.  Its coming, and its coming frequently.  In Gold Beach you better be ready for the veer!  Its coming, right at you.  You may stop it, but guess what?  It is coming again, and again, and again.  To quote the head coach for Gold Beach @kdawgswift “You better buckle up peckerwood, because we are gunna run it till you bleed to death!”  (still one of my favorite quotes of all time lol)

So, what constitutes a good number 1 play?  Your number 1 play should meet these criteria in order to be considered as your go to play:

  • Must be able to run it out of any formation
  • Must be able to run it out of any personnel group
  • Must stress the defense in multiple facets (assignments, techniques, alignment)
  • Must be gap sound against all defensive fronts
  • Must have a companion play that constraints the number 1 play while looking the same
  • Must run it religiously

Here are my top recommendations for number 1 plays in no particular order, beneath each play I provided example(s) of good companion plays:

  • Jet Sweep
    • belly, inside zone, GTO, trap
  • Wide Zone
    • dive, inside zone, GTO, keeper, load and speed option
  • Power O
    • jet sweep, power read, GTO
  • Trap
    • jet sweep, GTO
  • Veer
    • mid line, trap, GTO
  • Mid Line
    • veer, trap, GTO
  • Inside Zone
    • wide zone, keeper, GTO
  • Belly/BellyG
    • jet sweep, toss, buck sweep, GTO

DISCLAIMER: GTO is in there a lot.  Everyone should be able to run some counter…. BUT; counter is a set up play,  not a play you live and die by.  Many a teams have learned this the hard way…

CLOSING

This article follows along the lines of two of my previous articles “Whats Your System” and  “A Systemic Attack”.  KISS is my general coaching philosophy, and most teams that adopt this approach tend to experience success.  By doing this are you going to go win a state title???  Well, if you do please give me all the credit!  All joking aside, I can say this: If you simplify, results get better, period.  Subscribe to my email list to be notified when ever a new article is published and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

 

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.

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.

“Coach, They Know Nothing”

We have all been guilty of it.  Myself more than I would like to admit.  We assume our players know things just because they are playing high school football.  As coaches we must treat every player like they’ve never played before when they come into our programs, sometimes we must do that with players who have been there for four years.  I’m going to tell a couple of funny stories here; but it is not to laugh at the players.  These stories happened because I failed to communicate exactly what I wanted, and I failed to understand exactly what they knew.

“Chicken Wings”

It was storming in Florida, go figure.  Due to the lightning we took the team into the school’s cafeteria.  Naturally space was limited, and we could not do anything live due to being indoors.  We decided as a staff to just have the Defense align to formations and walk through run fits and stunts.  I was running the scout offense, showing play cards so they could see formations and just get lined up for defense.  A young player, a transfer for us was on the scout team as one of the skill kids.  After I showed the card he just kind of stood there and looked back me.    I said, “Hey man, go line up in a wing to the right.”    He still kind of just looks at me, I can see the confusion in his eyes and already feeling impatient for being rained off the field, I raised my voice and said in my stern coach voice, “GET LINED UP IN DANG WING LIKE I TOLD YOU!  TO THE RIGHT!”  the player then quickly trots just to the right of the quarterback who is under center, gets in a half squat and puts both hands in his armpits to make his arms little wings!  Funny now, but probably embarrassing for the player.  He had come from a spread team, played one year of freshman ball and had never heard the term before.  He had no clue, that was entirely my fault.

“Mr. Freeze”

This one happened in a game.  It was late in the 4th quarter in a preseason game and we were beating the other team badly.  Head Coach decided to call off the dogs and put in some young guys to get reps.  I send in my freshman tailback, first play he rolls forward before the snap taking a step, false start penalty, he does the same thing on the next try.  Time out gets called.  I tell him “you cant move, just stand there, do not roll forward again or your coming out”.   Well the players go back to the field and you can probably guess what happens next.  The ball is snapped, the fullback is going down field and there’s my young tailback, just standing there not moving.  This is again, not the players fault.  I assumed he knew that I was referring to during the cadence only.  I should have said clearly “until the ball is snapped”.  I guarantee in his head he was thinking “I’m doing exactly what coach told me”.

“The Goose”

This was a JV game when I was a young coach.  I was the Head Coach and defensive coordinator for the JV team.  We were on the 11-yard line.  It was 4th and maybe an inch, barely missed the chain post on the measure.  I call time out and we are going to go for it.  I just told the offense to run a sneak, and as the QB was heading out to line up I grabbed him and said to him “Hey just go up there and goose the center so you can catch them off guard”.  He nods adamantly, and sprints back out to the offense who is already lined up.  Nothing is happening, the offense is just lined up and doing nothing.  It looks like the QB is saying something, but I can’t hear him.  I start yelling from the sideline as do the other coaches.  The refs finally blow it dead and we have a delay of game penalty.  When the QB comes over I ask him what happened.  And he replied with “COACH! COACH! I yelled GOOSE like 10 times and nobody did anything!”  This is very funny to me now, but again, not the players fault in the slightest. That’s entirely on me and my assumptions.

Closing

As coaches, we must be sure we are clear and communicate exactly what we want and expect from our players.  They are not going to know what a 3tech is just because they play high school football.  They aren’t going to know what bender route is just because they play high school football.  These things need to be taught to them.  As coaches, we are also teachers.  To assume that players know things without checking for understanding, is to set them up for failure, and that is not why we do what we do.  To quote one of the Head Coaches I have worked for “Coach, they know nothing.  Teach them everything as if they have never played before.”

Comments always welcome, follow me on twitter @thecoachvogt.com