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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.

 

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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.

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.

 

 

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.

”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.

“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.”

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